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Inside the Art Studio of Tschabalala Self

A photo of artist Schabalala Self in her art studio


Tschabalala Self is an American artist who uses a variety of materials -- including re-worked sections of previous paintings -- to create her works. Self is known for stylized depictions of black female figures, combining a sense of symbolism with slice-of-life realism. 


Self’s studio pictured above looks pleasantly chaotic. Everywhere you look in this photo, there are multiple details and hints at the sort of work that’s being done. The floor seems half-covered in some sort of fabric construction, and the artist appears to be wearing knee-pads -- all the better for spending long periods of time kneeling over a large expanse of textile or producing large-scale works on the floor. I wonder about the green cords hanging from the ceiling on the right side of the image. Are these power cords for a drill or a stapler? Perhaps rigging for hanging a textile artwork?


I also really love the central window in this space. The artist’s desk is positioned right in front of it, and though you can’t see anything of the outside world in this shot, I can imagine that the space gets a great deal of natural light. It would be interesting to know what sort of scenery the space looks out onto, and whether this environment informs the artist’s work. 


The artist’s work often veers into a political sphere, though Self has noted that this politicization is often due to the inherent politicized nature of her subject matter. The artist’s work currently exists in public collections throughout the United States, as well as select collections in Europe and Asia.

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About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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