Meet Our 2021 Artist in Residence: Tara Taylor

Meet Tara Taylor

Tara Taylor is Halifax Public Libraries' first-ever Artist in Residence. Funded through the TD Ready Commitment for African Heritage Month 2021, this new position is an exciting foray for the Library into the world of immersive art, and we're thrilled to step forward with Tara Taylor at the forefront. Tara's residency will touch and draw from all branches of Halifax Public Libraries; she will host some workshops, opens a new window; and her creations will be made accessible for viewing and experiencing both in branches and online.

Originally from East Preston, Tara has recently returned to her roots in the community—"I'll never leave again. I love my hometown. It helps ground me, and inspires me to create when I'm home; when I'm standing on the land, in the front yard, in the grass."

When it comes to art, Tara is a master of many forms as a full-time artist—from writing and acting in theatre, to singing in a praise-sing choir, to oil painting, to resin casting, to polymer and clay art, to digital artistry. Manager of Community Navigation and Programming for the Lighthouse Arts Centre, as well as a playwright and filmmaker, Tara's creativity seeps colourfully into all corners of her life.

Read on to learn more about Tara and her plans for creating through the Library.

How has creativity played a role in your life, growing up?

Tara's family is filled with creators: other painters and singers; her uncle does wood-burning art; and she grew up watching her grandmother create folk art, establishing a name for herself in the community. Tara knew she wanted to be a creator ("in any way, shape or form"), but wondered, "where do I fit in?"

In Junior High, she began doing oil portraits of her friends, and sold her first piece in Grade 9 to an art dealer in Vancouver.

What inspires you to make art?

A grassroots artist, Tara does not define or limit herself to one style, although the terms "realism" and "hyper-realism" strike a good chord with her overall artistic approach.

"Everything inspires me. If I'm out walking after it rains, and I see a leaf, dripping, shaped 'just so,' I want to recreate and capture that in resin, or a painting."

Tara shares that she is highly inspired by nature, as well as the creativity of her kids, and the children she's worked with—such as the kids at the MacPhee Centre, who inspired her to continue pursuing resin art. She dreams in vivid colour and images.

What inspired you to sign on with the Library as Artist in Residence?

Tara knows the Library well. Halifax North and Central Libraries have served as office, meeting space, and playground for Tara and her family at different times in life, and Tara's Emerging Lens Film Cultural Festival, opens a new window has partnered with the Library in the past. A friend who works at the Library (Shannon Hansen, Halifax North Memorial Public Library) alerted Tara to the open Residency position, and encouraged her to sign up. Inspired by the evolving role of libraries in communities, and brimming with ideas, Tara applied.

"I was always afraid to show my visual art. But now I have no reason—it's time to be scared and dive right in."

Your Residency will feature three components. Tell us a bit about them?

1. A Community Mosaic

In collaboration with staff, Tara gathered recent photos from branches of Halifax Public Libraries, and turned them into a video mosaic of faces and moments. View below!

2. Workshops

In Spring 2021, Tara hosted free Zoom workshops via the Library for community members, imparting some of her knowledge and skills.

A resin casting demonstration (May 15) shared how to create a one-of-a-kind clock, like the one pictured above. Functionality is important to Tara—combining the beauty of art with real-world needs. 

3. Lightform Experience

A chance discovery led Tara into the world of lightform art. She put her name on the list several years ago for a newly released projection mapping tool that can be programmed to take the shape of your design, and she'll be using it to transform the Library, with the help of her daughter, who is a graphic artist.

In June-July 2021, Tara and her daughter have lightform-'painted' the first floor Central Library with light and fairytale-style art. Take a look below for a sneak peek video, and visit Central Library in June or July to see it in action!

Check out this video that inspired Tara's work on this project:

What do you hope to achieve through this residency?

"I hope just that people know me as an artist. With art, we can't be selfish with it. When we are given these artistic gifts, they actually belong to the world. You never know who you're going to touch. I hope that other artists from the Black and BIPOC community, who have never shared their art, will see someone who looks like them sharing art, and be inspired."

Tara says that viewers and participants can expect to be wowed. She wants anyone who comes into contact with any of her residency projects to follow suit: Be inspired, be taken aback, and try something new. She's especially excited for people to immerse themselves in the lightform project.

How does your residency connect to this year's African Heritage Month theme of Black History Matters: Listen. Learn. Share. Act.?

"We have a history of creativity. We have a history of building homes, growing food out of nothing. Once these hurdles are jumped, over time, creativity shines through. It's part of our grain, in our genes, passing stories and art down."

Tara has been inspired by local creators that have paved the way in Halifax, as well. Edith Clayton, her great grandmother, passed on the tradition of basket weaving to her daughter, Clara Gough, for example. Tara encourages the sharing of your talents and creativity with the world, and your family, and acting upon that urge, seeing it passed on.

What advice would you give to Black creators looking to start their own business?

While Tara shares that she wishes she had gone to school to study art, she stresses that you don't have to. She values the many mentors who supported her via NSCAD University, and notes that "the industry can be brought to you through universities and colleges," but it's not the only way.

Her best advice is to find mentors, and join forums. For Black creators, she recommends a private Facebook group, Black Artists Connected.

What are your hopes for African Heritage Month, and beyond?

"After Black History Month has passed, I'd love the same energy to stay around in everyone. Celebrations for Black Heritage Month should extend beyond February. We still exist the other 11 months of the year— so should the events and opportunities!"

More about Tara

You can find Tara on Twitter, @risentalent.

About African Heritage Month at Halifax Public Libraries

More than a month.

Every year in February and the months that follow, Halifax Public Libraries, in partnership with the Black History Month Association and countless dedicated individuals and groups, offers high-quality programs that highlight and celebrate the rich diversity, culture, and heritage of our African Nova Scotian community and people of African Descent.

The TD Ready Commitment is the generous presenting sponsor of African Heritage Month 2021 at Halifax Public Libraries. Their ongoing sponsorship—2021 marks 6 years of support!—increases our capacity to host important programs and conversations, and expand our collection, year-round.

Discover more stories, events, resources, and videos on our website at