Tamara Ruiz is a contemporary artist working in a number of mediums, primarily mixed-media. She lives on a small farm in Nebraska with her husband Bob and a menagerie of rescued animals. Living in the Midwest her entire life - Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and now Nebraska - has impacted both the style and subject matter of her work.
Tamara works in two different, but related styles; mixed media collage featuring vintage photographs, and oil painting on a mixed media background. Her mixed media collages start with a background of vintage ephemera combined with modern aspects of paint and surface design. An enlarged vintage photograph comprises the focal element of the collages. Tamara’s oil paintings begin in a similar way, with a mixed media background, but then differ as the focal element is a bold, stylized oil painting of iconic western imagery. She constantly experiments with new techniques, but starts each work with the same focus on shape, composition and color.
Tamara's collection of original vintage photos provide the focal point for her mixed media collages. She creates her own story, or interpretation, of the featured vintage photo with the composition and design choices she makes. Layers of paper and paint - distressed with sandpaper throughout the process - allow her collage process to show through. She says, "Many of the photos I use show people having a good time or expressing a sense of humor. I like that. I want people to smile when they look at my work. I want them to feel a connection with - or a curiosity about - the person in the photo. The expressions and nostalgic details of the photographed subjects, when enlarged to 3 or 4 feet, make a big impact on the viewer. It saddens me that in 50 years there aren't going to be boxes of vintage photos and handwritten letters at estate sales for someone to buy. Photos are kept on phones and computers today, and emails have replaced handwritten letters."
As an opportunity to make her design work available to a wider audience, Tamara has ongoing collaborations with two U.S. textile companies; American Dakota Textiles in Georgia; and Sweetwater Trading in Wisconsin; that offer her mixed media designs on floor coverings and luxury pillows.
Tamara currently has work in collections across the U.S. and also in Belgium, Norway and Singapore. In 2013, she had a month long, solo exhibition at the Nebraska Governor's Residence in Lincoln, Nebraska. Recent exhibitions have included invitations to several well known western museum shows; Cowgirl Up! Exhibition and Sale at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona; The Russell: Exhibition and Sale at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana; and Western Visions at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Throughout the year, Tamara’s work may be seen in juried and invitational gallery and museum shows, as well as online at www.tamararuiz.com.