TIFFANI TAYLOR IS proof that you’re never too successful to go back to school.
The Tiffani Taylor Gallery celebrated nine years in April, and the Savannah Art Walk has been going strong for six years. Those two ventures have kept Taylor more than busy for the past ten years, but she’s also an ardent supporter of local art and artists.
There’s no doubt that Taylor has been one of the most visible local alum to come out of SCAD, so she could be forgiven for resting on her laurels, so to speak.
But that’s just not Taylor’s style.
Three years ago, Taylor enrolled in the MFA painting program at SCAD to help her hone her skills and become an even better artist.
“I feel relieved,” she admits. “It’s been a long three years, and I’m definitely leaving a better artist than when I entered the program. I feel the program taught me to be much more communicative and to slow down.”
Taylor’s thesis exhibition, “Meditations in Art and Nature: The Journey to Peace...” will be on display at the Tiffani Taylor Gallery through the summer.
This also marks one of the first exhibitions available to see in person since the shuttering of Savannah nearly three months ago.
That decision didn’t come lightly: Taylor ensured that her gallery was in full compliance with health regulations.
“As we get more information, we always just want to put our health as a top priority: the health of ourselves as well as our patrons, which is why we did not open to the public until the summer,” she explains. “We are taking every precaution we can, with the hand sanitizer and the masks and everything.”
Taylor speaks about the importance of coming together right now to have that human connection.
“I think it’s important to have that human connectedness and interaction,” she says. “Specifically for the gallery, having been open for nine years, we have people who travel to Savannah to experience the gallery and the energy and the sanctuary that it is. It was important to me to safely reintroduce our venue so people have the possibility of experiencing the gallery space. Art carries energy, and we all need good energy, now and always.”
Taylor has good energy in spades. She’s a big believer in meditation, which is why it factors into her thesis work. Meditation has helped her become a better painter.
“You sit with your past, you sit with your emotions, you observe—it’s like emotional intelligence, too,” she shares. “You can better articulate what you want to on the canvas.”
Taylor has been a proponent of meditation for a long time, but the MFA program reinforced her love and need for it.
“It’s so important that I needed to be articulate in my words and my message and make sure that my materials and techniques match the vision that I want to make manifest instead of assuming that people can read my mind,” she says.
During the program, Taylor discovered new artists and writers that helped her refine her perspective.
“I fell in love with the writings of Annie Dillard,” she shares. “She just gave me the bravery to really delve into who I am. In one part of the book ‘The Writing Life,’ she articulates that you should write as if you’re speaking to a terminally ill patient, because that is the case. We all are. And to not mince words and to speak your truth and be honest, because it’s all a short amount of time we have here. It really encouraged me to be brave and talk more about my childhood.”
Taylor’s outlook of speaking her truth is inspirational to other artists, who sometimes don’t seek a similar path of enlightenment. She hopes that’s the trend forward, though, and sees some artists breaking from the “tortured artist” trope that’s been pretty standard for a while.
“A lot of artists are turning to meditation for self-care and self-love, as opposed to the romanticized way of living of the past, such as with alcohol [abuse],” says Taylor. “I think it really is a moment where a lot of artists are recognizing it didn’t really turn out well, like Jackson Pollock.” (Jackson Pollock died in an alcohol-induced car crash in 1956.)
In Taylor’s eyes, we can learn from artists like Pollock and choose positivity and self-enlightenment to help ourselves reach our best potential.
“We see that we need other methods to deal with fame—or lack thereof—reinventing of oneself, the fact that you’re only as good as your last commission, or you have to continuously have sales,” she reflects. “Meditation has been an important tool for me, so much so that for the past five years I’ve made it a priority.”
Taylor points to the stressful time we’re collectively living through and speaks on the importance of decompressing.
“I wanted to learn healthier tools for decompressing, such as exercise and meditation, because life is stressful,” she says. “We’re inundated with so many layers and it’s just a wonderful thing to have different tools in our pocket to lead happy, filled, peaceful lives.”
That happy, peaceful life that Taylor is living is on full display with this exhibition.
“My transcendence and the connection to divinity and energy of nature is not geographically specific, so you’ll see works from Paris to Wyoming to our Savannah marsh,” she says. “I think divine energy is available to us wherever we are. My intent with this show was to indicate the peace I have found through meditation and nature, and that really the finality that I have found home with myself. Wherever I am in the world, I feel at home. I’m at home with myself, and I think the body of work is indicative of that.”