Columbus Makes Art Presents: Tariq Tarey Bringing the Wonder to Wonderball
Tariq Tarey is a documentary photographer, skilled in both still photography and video, who specializes in refugee affairs. In July of 2006, Tariq’s show, Forlorn in Ohio, which documented the plight of Somali refugees, appeared at the Kiaca Gallery in Columbus. Forlorn in Ohio also traveled to Wright State University in 2007. Several images from that show are now part of the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, where Tariq is currently co-chairing the annual Wonderball, an event celebrating the curious, the strange and the marvelously mad.
Melissa: What drew you to photography?
Tariq: Photography is a language that has been developing for only 140 years. It’s so young and it’s a language that is very simple and universal. You don’t have to go to school to see human emotion. What drew me to photography is the simplicity of the language and how you tell your message. How you can tell a story in one frame.
Melissa: What is your creative process?
Tariq: I shoot large format photography. In my art and documentary film I use a 4×5 film camera. People ask me why I use this old technology. I use it because archiving is so important to me. Cultural preservation is important to me. I use film, especially black and white film, to maintain that archive-ability and longevity.
Melissa: What inspires you?
Tariq: Being able to communicate and navigate between two cultures inspires me. I’ll give you an example. Two people are from different countries — an East African Muslim culture and a Middle Eastern culture. To be able to bridge the gap between those two people or between someone who is from a foreign country and someone from U.S., that is inspiring to me. It inspires me to create a narrative for us to be able to realize that we are the same.
Melissa: Why is creativity important?
Tariq: Creativity — whether it’s painting or photography or graphic design — is asking why. The only way that human beings can grow is to ask questions. We need to ask why. Why do refugees come to this country? Why do people create art? Creativity to me is asking why. It’s important to Columbus and to other communities to ask why to enable us to grow.
Melissa: What about Columbus excites you?
Tariq: Columbus is untapped resources. In terms of employment, Columbus has one of the largest logistics industries in the country. That industry has gaps in its market that refugees and immigrants can fill. Columbus positions itself to fill those gaps. The art community does the same thing. There are livable wages here so you can work and raise your family. And diversity exists here. Diversity in religion, culture, age and art forms exists in Columbus. I hope that people who haven’t experienced the art scene in Columbus can come out and experience it.
Melissa: Why did you decide partner with the Columbus Museum of Art on Wonderball?
Tariq: Mostly for the drinks. No, it’s really because of the Columbus Museum of Art and what it does for our community. I want to really raise awareness about our great museum and our great community.
Melissa: What’s your favorite part of Wonderball?
Tariq: Seeing entrepreneurs, working with fabulous people and artists. But the really the best part of Wonderball is getting to know people who love what you love.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.