There’s a lot of glitter in Gallery 2506 (2506 N. California Ave.) right now. A temporary rug made of black and gold glitter will be on display until the gallery’s closing reception, from 6-9 pm on Friday, Aug. 21.
Tina Tahir, a contemporary artist based in Chicago, creates rugs that are made of a variety of small materials. These rugs have been made of mostly natural materials like sand, soil and ashes, but Tahir is also exploring the use of shiny, reflective materials such as glitter or glass beads.
She makes these rugs temporary in an examination of the cycle of nature. “Everything is constantly changing and in a continuous process of growth, decay and dissolution,” she says.
This piece was inspired by toxic plants, such as opium and poppies. In a previous artist statement, she wrote: “I wondered, what do they have in common, what are the effects when we come in touch with them? … There is something beguiling about sharing the dark little secrets of these plants. Most of them don’t grow in exotic jungles, but right in your own backyard.”
Her recent piece, “41.927455, -87.697607,” is currently installed in Gallery 2506 as part of the gallery’s Drawn to Nature exhibit. (The titles of her pieces refer to the coordinates on which they reside.)
This is one of Tahir’s larger rugs, measuring 85 by 155 inches (about 7 by 13 feet). Temporary rugs have ranged in area from a single square foot to 480 square feet (24 by 20 feet). This large amount of glitter can often take a full day to arrange.
Based on her research about certain toxic plants, Tahir creates a stencil. A matrix is then made around the stencil to be laid out on the gallery space. “Each tile, however, shifts slightly in appearance, as it can never be copied identically.”
Pieces are custom made and created on site, taking into consideration the architecture and dynamics of the space, she says.
Now, how can a rug made of glitter still be intact for a month? By limiting the interaction with the piece, Gallery 2506 was able to preserve as much of it as they could for the closing reception.
The longest amount of time a Tahir piece has been intact is six weeks. It was made of gold dust, so the gallery-goers at BEGE Galerien Ulm, a German gallery, felt it was too precious to walk on, Tahir says. Rugs made of ashes, on the other hand, are destroyed very quickly, lasting one day.
Despite their temporary nature, people can purchase them. In previous shows, she’s placed portions of the rug in a box, along with a picture of the original rug and a certificate of the GPS coordinates. A stencil can also be purchased to reinstall the piece elsewhere.