Tiki Garcia shares her place in Jackson with four roommates and, without a professional studio in which to work, a rotating lineup of drying oil paintings.
That makeshift art factory has been up for the better part of the year. Garcia has been preparing for her debut art show at The Rose, titled “Caution: Wet Paint” as a nod to the sticky notes she’d leave around the house for her roommates.
The show, which opens Saturday, consists of about 10 of Garcia’s oil paintings and paper sketches. It also serves as a double entendre for the sense of sensuality the young artist strives for in her work.
“When I look at my pieces of art, I want to feel euphoric about it,” Garcia said. “I want to feel attracted to it in a way.
“It doesn’t even necessarily have to be some kind of sexual attraction, but an attraction. I want to look at this piece and be completely drawn into the way that it makes me feel and the way that I want it to make me feel is turned on.”
Many of Garcia’s pieces center on the female form, usually drawn with true-to-life silhouettes contrasted by saturated colors.
“The number one reason why I love painting women,” she said, “is simply because they’re such beautiful creatures.”
In some paintings, like “Pink Girl,” in which the subject’s vivid pink skin is framed by electric green hair, the effect is almost extraterrestrial. In “Wavelengths” a woman is surrounded by a bright geometric pattern, like she was plucked out of her life and into a fever dream.
Garcia’s identity and that of her subjects are not fully separate entities. They’re more like two parts of a collective consciousness.
“I think that my relationship to being a woman is one that is unbridled and unapologetic,” she said. “I definitely think [my art] is a statement of, ‘I’m beautiful, I want to make things that are beautiful, I want people to feel beautiful.’ And if I can make something and when they’re looking at that they get that vibration from it, then maybe I’ve accomplished something good.”
Though female nudes are far from a revolutionary subject in art, Garcia is conscious of depicting women as liberated from the male gaze, or male-centric viewpoint, through which they’re often filtered.
“I just want people to feel free,” Garcia said. “I think that that’s why I like painting women who are in the moment of feeling free.”
While this is Garcia’s first show, she has considered art an important part of her identity since the days she was a middle schooler in the East Bay area of California who was obsessed with creating realistic drawings to impress her classmates.
“When people ask me who I am or what I do, I always start with just saying first and foremost, ‘I am an artist.’ That’s just what I am,” she said. “And everything that I apply myself to comes from an artistic place.”
Garcia’s method is born less out of careful planning or detailed method and more out of following her impulses and emotions. Not being formally trained, she admits to sometimes feeling doubts about her work.
“I ask myself, ‘Well, what if it doesn’t come out good? And what if I’m really not an artist? What if I’m not this thing that I truthfully am?’” she said. “Pushing through that is always a really gratifying experience.”
Her method, with all its chaos, is just a means of getting to her goal of creating art that provokes a reaction — one that is euphoric and liberating.
For Garcia it all comes back to art as an expression of self.
“The more that people are willing to just be themselves and not worry about what other people think of them is just one of the healthiest ways that you can be your own best friend,” she said. “And I freaking like painting beautiful women. That’s who I am.” ￼