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, five shelter dogs and a stray cat named Barney. 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’s mixed-media work combines vintage photographs and ephemera with the modern aspects of paint, surface design and imagery of the graffiti on trains that pass by her farm. The work consists of strong shapes and a well-defined color palette influenced by the small towns and open prairies of her environment, as well as by the graphic style of old postcards and vintage photographs populating local estate sales and antique shops. The juxtaposition of the old and the new give her work a contemporary twist.
Tamara's collection of vintage photos and abandoned family photo albums provide the focal point for each piece. 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."
Tamara currently has work in collections throughout the U.S. and also in Belgium, Norway and Singapore. Her work has been exhibited in juried and invitational shows across the U.S.. In 2013, Tamara had a month long, solo exhibition at the Nebraska Governor's Residence in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 2015 she was invited to exhibit at Cowgirl Up! at the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona, and The Russell: Exhibition and Sale at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana.