Playful and Potent

Tavarus Blackmon in his studio at Headlands Center
Tavarus Blackmon during his residency at Headlands Center for the Arts

Artist embraces the light and dark.

Tavarus Blackmon (M.F.A., art, ’18) has been making art his entire life. First comics as a kid, then experimental music, tattoos, video and film, short stories, poetry, painting, and now art that brings it all together. His work gives viewers a noisy, candy-colored, loop-the-loop ride that journeys to darker places, and tackles issues of poverty, labor, and violence.

“The work has serious repercussions, but I also want it to be playful,” said Blackmon, a native of Sacramento, where he lives with his partner and their three children. “I want to have a middle ground where I’m not telling people what to think, but providing them an opportunity to reflect.”

At UC Davis, Blackmon found fellow students and faculty artists with similar aims and concerns. “The M.F.A. program is very much attuned to the world, with attention to a critical discourse about society and culture,” he said.

Blackmon has had several recent exhibitions and honors, including a solo exhibition at Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento, a nine-month residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County, and a Sustainable Arts Foundation Parent Artist Residency through the Kala Arts Institute in Berkeley.

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the College of Letters and Science, wrote this article for the fall 2019 issue of the College of Letters and Science Magazine.

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