Tara Polansky

The images on my work are based on my family’s old photographs. They are of first generation Jewish Americans in immigrant neighborhoods in New York City in the 1930s. Some of the people represented I have known personally, others only through stories and photos, and others only through my imaginings. I chose to use plates and cups as a medium on which to evoke narratives because of the importance of ritual family gatherings around food and drink. Traditions, especially those related to preparing and eating food, are passed down from generation to generation, as are the stories of our ancestors. There is an intimacy in scale and content, a familiarity in the object.

I am inspired by European porcelain dinnerware and commemorative platters. Here I memorialize people and events that are only partially known to me. This work is a celebration of the search for one’s past through fragments of other people’s memories. I give the viewer enough information to pique her curiosity about the characters or the story but still leave questions unanswered.

Although this work is not overtly political in content, I am deeply influenced by my background in social justice work. I use a format which historically has been used to commemorate kings and other “great” people. Instead, I place images of my family (immigrants, children, the un-famous) thereby asserting that their lives are worthy of commemoration, that they are people who should be remembered and honored.

Tara Polansky earned a Bachelors of Art from Hunter College of the City University of New York (2004). She studied as a special student at the Kansas City Art Institute (2007-2008). She was awarded a University Fellowship from the Ohio State University where she is currently a candidate for a Masters of Fine Art in Ceramics. Tara’s work has appeared in exhibitions nationally.

© Tara Polansky