• Rachel Deiterding

Returning to Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls

As the sun returns and spring blossoms emerge, I keep returning to Tau LewisTriumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls. I was fortunate enough to visit this show in October 2020 while it was on exhibit at Cooper Cole in one of the short periods that galleries were open to the public. Lewis’ figurative sculptures capture history through found materials, explore the experience of the Black diaspora, and imagine new geographies for black existence. The work featured in Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls makes an aesthetic pivot from Lewis' past work while continuing to uphold visual and thematic through lines that distinctly identify the work. When I saw the show as summer turned to fall it felt pertinent, linked to the time and the place. Now as I reflect on it months later, it feels similarly relevant as we unfold into spring.


Tau Lewis, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls, 2020. Source.


The show was nothing short of magnificent. Its power was equally expressed in the digital documentation that circulated online and on social media. The images exuded an otherworldly aura, the tactility of the textiles called for touch, and the scale demanded physical interaction in the space.


Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is invited into the realm of the T.A.U.B.I.S. This realm is a pocket of the universe dedicated to justice, fertile abundance, care, and communal knowledge. These themes are personified in the three main sculptural figures located in the gallery and its extended space.

The work takes on a particular aesthetic through its materials. Lewis works with found textile materials and this body of work was made from reclaimed household items such as bed linens, clothing, blankets, and towels. The materials were then all hand-dyed in pastel hues and meticulously hand-stitched to produce the resulting forms. The warm pastel colour palette is described as being “meant to resemble a light-filled womb.” Stepping into the space from a cool fall day was like stepping to your grandmother’s kitchen, bustling with safety and intergenerational wonder.


The pull of the material was strong and there was nothing I wanted to do more than sit safely under the figure's skirt.


Tau Lewis, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls, 2020. Source.


Tau Lewis, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls, 2020. Source.


At the same time as these ethereal beings felt warm and connected, they remained out of reach, each surrounded by a curtain and of blossoms hanging from the ceiling. Visitors had to maneuver between them, careful not to cause a disruption as the blossoms responded to human presences in the space. The blossoms served to both connect and distance. The keepers of the realm.


Tau Lewis, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls, 2020. Source.


In the gallery basement, another figure sits tucked into the back corner. Almost hidden, it seems to be waiting for you to come find it. With an outstretched arm it beckons you closer. The mysterious power evoked by the object is succinctly described in Kaya Joan’s interpretation where they describe the figure “as a conduit between worlds.” The room felt statically charged, as if an outstretched hand could only mean one thing.


Tau Lewis, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls, 2020. Source.


To access the final element of the show, the visitor has to be escorted by a gallery attendant down the street and into a storage unit facility. The journey takes you into a parking garage, up an elevator, and a down a fluorescently lit hallway lined with white garage doors. A disorienting and unexpected journey that leads to an equally mystifying universe. A towering head overtakes the room and an outstretched tongue is unfurled onto the floor. The figure seems to be all-knowing while at the same time offering a space to rest. A pair of feet poke out the mouth, toes interwoven with flowers.


A common theme in Tau’s past work is an exploration of the potential for an emotive transference from found materials. The magical world that Lewis has created seems to harnessed the warmth, safety and wisdom of the domestic worlds they were collected from to create a space of love and belonging. In October I was struck by the sense that I might like to live here among these mysterious soft pastel beings. Months later, I'd still like that.


Tau Lewis, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous

Blossoms of Incarnate Souls, 2020. Source.



Tau Lewis, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous

Blossoms of Incarnate Souls, 2020. Source.


See the full digital archive of the work here!

May we all return to museums and galleries soon.