Profile: Tamara Natalie Madden (1975-2017)

Tamara Natalie Madden was a Jamaican-born painter and mixed-media artist working and living in the United States. Madden’s paintings are allegories whose subjects are the people of the African diaspora.

Biography

Madden was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica. She moved to America from Jamaica permanently when she was an adolescent. She studied at several universities including the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. In 1997 Madden became ill with IgA nephropathy. While ill, Madden rediscovered art. Art helped her to heal emotionally, so she decided that it was important to pursue it further. She received a kidney transplant from her brother in 2001, and participated in her first art exhibition that same year. Her first solo exhibition was in 2004, and it garnered her an interview with the late James Auer of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

After her solo exhibition in 2004, Madden relocated near Atlanta, Georgia. She met her mentors Charly “Carlos” Palmer and WAK (Kevin A Williams) while living in Atlanta. In 2007, Madden debuted a series entitled, “Kings & Queens”, which focused on heightening the everyday person. Her work continued to focus on recognizing nobility, honor and respect in those often overlooked by society. Her subjects can be perceived as wealthy and powerful, but for the artist the imagery often represents a power that exudes from within.

Madden created images based on her memories of the people of her native Jamaica, placing them in high status fabrics (raw silks, colorful satins, etc.), that mimicked those worn by royalty. Birds were a common theme in many of Madden’s paintings, chosen as a personal symbol of her freedom from illness. Madden’s influences were varied, and included Gustav Klimt, Milwaukee artist Ras Ammar Nsoroma, African royalty, Egypt, Asia and the clothing worn by native African and Indian women. She chose to paint imagery that represented the people of the African diaspora.

Madden resided and worked in the Atlanta area and was a fine art professor at Spelman College. Two weeks after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Madden died.

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