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Anthem: A Solstice Portal

Anthem: A Solstice Portal (2023)

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, a time to look deep into what has healed us and what we need to leave behind to evolve.


Experience a body of painted and built work by Buffalo-based artist Tara Bystran and their healing portraits, featuring gilded scars turned into sigils of strength.


The Bandaged Place Project (I and II) is a series of paintings exploring the liminal healing space within the edges of a scar. The white surface of a painting is built up along the scar-like edges of the painting to reveal glimpses of the magic and mundanity that adds up to healing over time. Within are the supportive and divertive moments that pull us through the healing process.


This series emerged from a sequence of Tara’s own surgeries: cancer, appendectomy, dilation and curettage, heart ablation, tendon repair–that created personal upheaval and a fascination with scar tissue. Only after the fact can the chaotic process become a linear story. Along the way, things are whirling and multifaceted. This work became a way to articulate their identity after it had been physically destabilized.


“Anthem” as a series expands on this idea to pursue themes of healing between community members, with scars outlined in gold as emblems or sigils that unlock future pathways. Their process now includes interviewing models as they share their own complex narrative of healing.


Anthem has a particular focus on gender non-conforming, queer, and femme voices. Connecting physically with truth and pleasure through the medium of paint and cultural stamp of gilded images serves as a reclamation of power and narrative.


Anthem/The Bandaged Place Project is made possible by the NY State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, as well as support from ASIWNY.


Snowy Owl Tea, Buffalo, NY


Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, acrylic and gold leaf on panel, mixed media on mylar, mixed media on panel