Monday, April 9, 2012

Indigenous Stories by Tamara Adams

Gathering of Mexican Women ~ Tamara Adams

As you know from previous posts, I love Mexican art. I love Diego Rivera. And I love art that represents under-told stories. There are many artists in Latin America that still work with the legacy of Diego Rivera creating their own highly stylized paintings with themes of power, struggle, family, and indigenous life, heritage and culture. But here in the states, these are less commonly explored arenas. The work of Pacific Northwest artist, Tamara Adams, picks up just where Diego Rivera left off. Adams creates deep, vivid paintings that explore the rich and spiritual lives of strong indigenous women. With bright colors and artistry clearly influenced by  Rivera and others like him, Adams manages to pull from these painters she admires, but raise her own voice and bring to the fore the stories of women who are often overlooked, but have much to say.

Whimsical Mother and Child

Black Madonna and Child

Nursing Mother and Child

I love the themes of spirituality, motherhood, sisterhood, and oneness with nature that run through Adam's paintings. In many pieces, mothers nurse or care for their young in moments of total devotion and quiet bliss. In Nursing Mother and Child, we sense a profound satisfaction in the mother's care-taking, and that through it she becomes ever-closer to her earthly environment as represented by her surrounding foliage. Adam's images harken to the native spirituality that conquistadors and other colonialists attempted to wash away with their organized religions upon arriving in the new world.  Her sensitive portraits celebrate the beauty that lies in these resilient and thoughtful systems of belief.

Sing Away the Blues

Girl and Birds

Tree Spirit and Ravens

None of Adams' paintings represent the connection between women and nature quite as strongly as Tree Spirit and Ravens. In it, she paints a tree inhabited by ravens with the soulful face of a woman. It's as if she says that women are borne out of the earth just as flora and fauna, and are one in the same. It's a powerful image, and I love how she makes each element such that you don't know where one ends and the other begins. In other words, where does the woman end and the tree begin, or the tree end and the ravens begin? They are all part of one same organism.

 Gathering of Women

Importantly, Adams also delves into the relationships women have to each other. Just as they are bound to nature and youth, they are bound to each other and provide one another with a unique strength. In Gathering of Women, we see four women gifting a sister plants, fruit, a bird, and peppers. It seems to me that the women are saying, "Among us there is an unspoken bond, and together we will always provide each other with what is needed." It's my own spin perhaps, but I think what is sure is that these female relationships are based on loyalty, trust and allegiance.

Colorful Prayer Icon

I'll be in Oregon later this summer, and I'm hoping to make a trip to see Tamara's radiant paintings in person. The glimpse of texture I can glean from web images must be stunning in person. If you can't make it to Oregon like me, you can purchase Tamara's work on Etsy, or visit her website for more images and information. Posters of several prints are also available for purchase on allposters.

Goddess Portrait with Bird

What do you think? Are you moved by Tamara Adam's work like me? Share your thoughts!

*All images for this post were taken from Tamara Adam's Etsy shop.


  1. Thank you for featuring my work!

  2. is their any vendor from which i can purchase any of these paintings.They would be great to have at home/work.

    1. Yes, you can purchase them from Tamara right here!

      Enjoy! :)