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Conversations with the Inspiring Taleen Batalian

Today we’d like to introduce you to Taleen Batalian.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Taleen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started my career in fashion design. After working in that field for a few years, I discovered I was more interested in painting. For the next 15 years, I did that exclusively. In 2012, I lost my Mom to a brain tumor. During the time of her illness and death, I lost touch with myself and with my interest in making art. Through the process of making my way back, my work has changed significantly. I’m working with fabric and textiles again but now in a much more experimental way. I’m creating textile sculptures along with paintings. Recently, I’ve been working on collaborative performance pieces with some of the sculptural garments.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Making a life as an artist has not been a smooth road. I’ve felt very lost at certain points in my career. There is no clear road map for artists. It’s great in the sense that anything is possible. But sometimes that can feel overwhelming. The key has been to understand what works for me, specifically. I enjoy wearing different hats ­– not doing the same thing every day. Even at times when I was in my studio five days a week, I realized that I don’t enjoy my time there as much because I don’t have a chance to miss my work. I’m constantly working on a balance that feels right and this process has become a creative project onto itself.

My advice to young women: listen to your intuition, find mentors, build a community of women who inspire you and who will help you talk through challenges when you need it. Embrace the process!

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
For over a decade, I’ve been working with Encaustic. This is an ancient technique in which you work with molten beeswax, oils, and resin. The wax starts to cool and dry as soon as it leaves the heat source, so I’m able to build rich, luminous layers that play with transparency and opacity.

With my more recent textile objects and sculptural garments, I’ve been working on installations and also collaborating with other artists. For example, in a recent performance at the RISD Museum, a dancer wore a sculptural garment I created, a garment that affected her movement.

Teaching is also an important part of my work. I’ve been a faculty member at Rhode Island School of Design’s Continuing Education program for more than ten years. This has enabled me to share and learn with and from students who inspire me with their energy.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
My Armenian heritage played a big role, especially in my early life. In addition to attending public school Monday thru Friday, I attended Armenian schools on the weekend, so I was speaking, reading and writing in two languages while I was growing up. Also, my cultural life at home was different than a lot of other kids. I think this experience taught me how to adapt and change roles. This is something I’m able to do pretty seamlessly in my career. Sometimes, I go from artist to teacher to various freelance projects sometimes within a single week!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Installation images by Karen Philippi

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