Alexandra Dawn Taggart is taking you on a journey into the very heart of the American Southwest–and well beyond. Her paintings are like fingers pointing at the moon: what each points to, regardless of the landscape or mountainscape depicted, is something unspeakably more. In one sense, her paintings, pieced together as if in the form of a montage, are magical dreamscapes, yet in quite another sense they are gesturing, behind the ephemeral appearance of all things, at the Unnameable Truth. Each painting, therefore, is meant to engender an unanswered question. No doubt her heightened sensitivity to the Southwest comes from the sharp contrast she experienced between where she was born and raised–the flatland and vertical jungle better known as New York City–and where she has since felt called to explore. In fact, it wasn’t until moving to the Southwest that she was able to give herself up to a sense of freedom in and communion with a natural environment–two themes braided together in many of her paintings. Whether the subject is a vast landscape or a single cactus makes no essential difference: the paradox between uninvolved curiosity (freedom) and textured intimacy (communion) remains at once tangible and palpably felt.
Before she began painting full-time, Taggart spent nearly a decade designing handbags in New York City’s fashion industry. She also was an adjunct instructor of Accessories Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Taggart and her husband Andrew, a practical philosopher, currently live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“Each person connects deeply and intuitively with a certain kind of natural environment. Such a place–be it an ocean redolent of infinity or a desert suggestive of austerity–is precisely where one feels most at home, most oneself, and also somehow most beyond oneself. Significantly, that same aesthetic sensibility, or subtle signature, is evident in one’s interior design choices, in one’s interior landscapes, in one’s musical predilections, and, above all, in one’s very vision of a good life. In this way, the type of natural environment to which one is most drawn reveals something essentially true about one’s existence.
For me, the natural environment to which I naturally thrill is the American Southwest. It brings forth in me a sense of aliveness; it’s where I feel most sensitive to, as well as most in tune with, the Mystery at the root of what I am, of what we all are, of what the sun and the moon and the roadrunners and the junipers trees also all most surely are. This sense of the divine is, rightly understood, panentheistic: it’s immanent in all material things and yet, transcending space and time, abides in and as Itself. Zen calls it sunyata, or boundlessness, though the name doesn’t matter – or apply. Before a name is given, what wonder, curiosity, and longing all of this stirs! Through my paintings, I hope to evoke in the viewer the wonderment, curiosity, and longing I feel in the American Southwest. May we all find our own way home.” – Alexandra Taggart