Artist of the Week

Tatiana Sky

March 5, 2024

Tatiana Sky (b.1998) is an artist based in Chicago who primarily makes sculpture with ceramics, plaster, concrete and cast metal. Their work focuses on our relationship with natural environments and is informed by garden decor, architectural details and magic. They received their BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020. Tatiana Sky has exhibited their work in galleries across Chicago and was featured by New York gallery EUROPA at NADA New York 2023.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

My name is Tatiana Sky. I am an artist living in Chicago, Illinois. I moved to Chicago to go to SAIC and I graduated in 2020. Recently I’ve been making sculptures with clay, plaster, and concrete.

Twosome (Fountain) |  2023 | concrete  fountain pump, water, paint, sealant | 64.5” x 58” x 43.5”

Could you describe your practice?

A lot of the time, my process is very improvisational and intuitive. I work with a lot of different materials but usually ones that start wet and dry quickly like clay, plaster or concrete. I like allowing the material nature of the piece to influence the final shape by embracing the saggy, drooping forms that come from working quickly against gravity. I think this relationship with the material is really important to me. I don’t want to have complete control over the outcome of the piece while I’m working. I like having the give and take of what I want and what the material can do. So, in the studio I’m really led by emotions rather than a calculated plan and finishing a piece looks more like, okay what mistakes or material results do I keep and which ones do I push against. 

Reliquary |  2024 |  fired ceramic, concrete, rocks, wood, plaster, chicken bone, mylar butterfly |  31.5” x 13.5” x 13”

What/who is influencing your work right now?

Spring, Spiritualism, Fairies, Portals, Seances, Grief, Flowers, Plants, Mud, Gardening

What are the main motifs in your work?

Flowers, High Heel Shoes, Butterflies, Fountains

Shoes |  2019 |  fired ceramic |  13” x 10” x 3”

Describe your current studio or workspace. (Please provide a photo of it if you have one)

I love my studio. I started working in a shared studio space about a year ago with some other artists and it’s been great being around other people working. This is the first studio space I’ve had with windows. I’ve found that a lot of sculpture studios are dark, little hobbit holes so I feel really lucky to see sunlight while I work. 

Sky’s studio

You currently have a show up at Sulk Chicago with your romantic and creative partner, Daniel Champion. Can you talk about how this show came to fruition and some themes you were focusing on?

We were super fortunate to have Taylor approach us with the idea of having a couple show their work at her gallery around Valentine’s Day. We had never shown our work together before or even really had it in the same space but we felt that there were natural similarities in our work because we are so connected as a couple. So the show grew from this place of: these two people are in love with each other and share so much of their lives, but have very separate studio practices, how is their work connected and how is it different.

Wand | 2024 | fired ceramic, concrete, paint, rocks | 12.5” x 3” x 4.5”

The element of the hand is highly present in your work, can you explain the importance of this and ideas around craft and kitsch within your work?

In part, the hand is important to my work because of the way I love to make things. I just really love the physicality of making sculpture and when you can feel the presence of the person who made it. 

In other ways, the hand is present in the work because I like to position these sculptures as anti-monuments. They are not clean, highly polished, fabricated sculptures. They are wobbly, fragile creatures that kind of come into being against all odds in a way. For me, that strategy and the results are a move towards craft over craftsmanship.

Kitsch is harder for me to contextualize because it’s not how I immediately relate to my work but I definitely don’t reject it as a connected idea. I think it comes into play for a lot of people because there is a cartoon-ish, over simplification of the forms in the sculptures. But for me, those shapes come from a place of trying to make a flower or a shoe or a body from memory without a visual reference. I think in doing so, I can connect to a more sincere, emotional part of my memory while making something. And then the shapes are kind of the symbol of the thing it’s meant to represent rather than just being the thing. Kitsch also makes me think about appreciating something for what it is rather than what it’s trying to be or supposed to be. I do feel like that kind of acceptance is how I try to relate to my own work. And my process of making stuff usually involves accepting imperfections in a sincere, sentimental way. So, that’s pretty kitschy too.

Flower | 2019 |  plaster, wood, wire, spray paint | 36” x 18” x 48”

What does a garden mean to you?

The idea of the ‘garden’ in my work has sort of become this metaphor for a fantasy space. In the past, I’ve described the garden as an enclosed space designed for deep sentiments to be shared and for things to grow. 

But a garden is also a place where people commune with their natural surroundings. So, the idea of the garden has become the context for exploring the relationship between people and their environment. 

All of my sculptures live in the garden. And even though I imagine this space as an enchanted realm, it is not a utopia. It’s derived out of necessity from the anthropocene. It’s a garden that grew on top of a post-apocalyptic ruin where we find the remnant of a high heeled shoe and a wobbling, alien-esque flower who spits polluted water. The ‘garden’ in my work exists as a dream space to subvert our desire to conquer nature and instead offers an alternative landscape to cultivate new ideas for the future.

Low Hum |  2020 |  Ceramic, live bait dye, dirt, spray paint, fountain pump |  2’ x 1.6’ x 2.3’

What are you really excited about right now?

Spring, Community Organizing, Love & Friendship

What do you collect?

Four leaf clovers, Knick-knacks made of seashells, Swirly scrap metal, Valentines


Interview conducted and edited by Lily Szymanski. All images courtesy of the artist.