Tara Austin “Green Mantle”, oil, acrylic and silverleaf on plexiglass, 48″ x 72″, 2019


An Abstracted Landscape

Green Mantle is an abstractified landscape of mountains, lichen, northern lights, and other natural happenings. The sum total of its parts have turned into triangular points and ornate filigrees, representing a rarefied geometry as pure as mountain air. As Austin notes, it’s as clear a representation as we can get of her orchid totem pole, also present in Boreal VII. Although there does seem to be an orientation, with clearly defined celestial orbs upon an atmospheric or aquatic blue backdrop, the above is also mirrored below as the orbs are spread out within fragments set upon an earthy tone. The effect is one of definitive lines uniting heaven and earth. Showing us that there is unification in all things.

Within the greater context of Boreal Ornament III, Green Mantle is by far the most panoramic. Although many of her pieces in the show include circular references to (at least in part) celestial objects, Green Mantle’s definitive skyline and earth below make it one of a kind within the greater body of her paintings. While Boreal VI, VII, VIII and IX may hint at the quintessential essence of planets or moons, they do not contain the same horizon lines as reference. Austin anecdotally mentions a trip to Kakabeka Falls, where she discovered the namesake of this piece.

It is not a coincidence that this area of southern Ontario holds a striking differentiation of sky, elevated land, and earth below.

Green Mantle itself is an Ojibwe legend. When an Ojibwe chief in the area heard of an attack about to take place from a Sioux tribe, he instructed his daughter (Princess Green Mantle) to devise a plan to intervene. Thinking quickly, she entered the warring Sioux camp and pleaded for her life in exchange for leading them to her father’s camp. She instead led them over the edge of Kakabeka Falls.

It’s only when we realize this as the impetus for the painting that the atmospheric backdrop comes clearly into focus as also representing the falls themselves. To look at an image of Kakabeka Falls and Green Mantle side by side is to experience the same image behind different lenses.

Interested? Call 218-418-7750

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Green mantle projects lichen, northern lights, and other elements of the sublime.

  • About Tara Austin

    Tara Austin is a Duluth artist whose vast body of work is a testament to nature and reality. Her rich landscapes are of chaos, complexity, and order. They hold as much inherent beauty as a satellite image of a hurricane, a sunflowers' petals, or an assemblage of diatoms under a microscope.
  • Exhibition Overview

    Boreal Ornament III
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