Washer Woman (Grandma)

Named a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, Aiken’s oeuvre encompasses hundreds of public murals and sculptures in the Twin Cities alongside a dedicated studio practice. Born in 1952, Aiken is fond of reminding interlocutors that his first art exhibition was held at six years old in the basement of his family’s home in Evanston, Illinois.

Through paintings and works on paper rooted in abstraction, with particular affinities to the work of Norman Lewis and Romare Bearden, and alongside a renowned public art practice ignited through John T. Biggers’ mentorship, Aiken has spent decades channeling the spirits of his ancestors through form and color.

This winter, Aiken revisited printmaking for the first time in many years. With the support of Drew Peterson at Entity Editions, he spent months in the Winter of 2023 working to translate his ideas to screenprinting. Like in all his works, he began with loose intuitive gestures that the artist calls Spirit Writing. From there, he worked with Peterson to build up a symphonic complexity through layers of his iconic motifs and loose, swirling gestures.

About The Artist:

Ta-coumba T. Aiken has spent decades channeling the spirit of his ancestors through form and color in works rooted in abstraction. In a recent essay, Senior Walker Art Center curator Siri Engberg described Aiken as “part of a lineage of Black abstract artists who have employed strategies of abstraction as containers for deep meaning, and as explorations of the personal, the historical, and the social.”

A vessel for the collective memory of his community, Aiken begins each painting with intuitive freeform underpaintings that he terms Spirit Writing. Drawn from the artist’s ancestors, these gestures form the grounds of his work and suggest shared history, community, and experience. Rhythmic and sinuous, Aiken's line doubles back on itself in the infinite manner of a Mobius strip, nesting one body or visage inside another.

Aiken’s work is held in numerous public collections, including the Walker Art Center, The Minnesota Museum of American Art, The Minnesota History Center, the Walker West Music Academy, and the Gillette Children’s Hospital. He attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and is the recipient of numerous awards including a 2022 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Fine Arts, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, a Gottlieb Fellowship and a Bush Visual Arts fellowship. Aiken has served on numerous boards including the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, City of Minneapolis Arts Commission, African American Cultural Arts Center, Forecast Public Arts, Saint Paul Art Collective, and Springboard for the Arts. He has been a public arts advisor to the cities of St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Bloomington, Minnesota, and Marin City, California.

2024, English

40 x 29⅛ in

Ta-coumba T. Aiken. Washer Woman (Grandma), 2024

Screenprint on Arches Cover. 40 x 29⅛ in.

Ta-coumba T. Aiken. Washer Woman (Grandma), 2024

Screenprint on Arches Cover. 40 x 29⅛ in.

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