Tommy Mavra explores narratives relating to our relationship with the natural world through painting, drawing and sculpture. The work spans from solo series in drawing and sculpture to collaborative interdisciplinary projects in experimental film and sound design. Mavra is a first generation American and the first generation to grow up not depending on farming and fishing. The contrast of being taught to have a reverence for nature while living in urban and suburban environments is most likely where his interest in understanding our role in the world as it relates to life began. Each work questions agreed upon notions of morality and explores the magic and the mischief of life.
I am interested in how we negotiate our place in nature.
Technology, medicine, housing, farming, etc. are thought of as being artificial, yet they support the survival of our species. If survival is what motivates the actions of all living things, our “artificial” creations are also part of nature. However, no other animal has had the same impact on the ecosystem that we do. In the long term it seems that our inventions, intended to insure our success, could usher in the end of most life on Earth.
My work examines the paradoxical relationship mankind has with the natural world; its beauty and repulsiveness. Through painting, drawing, and sculpture I focus on narratives of daily life — our everyday interactions with animals, the food we eat and the things we buy — to reassess situations overlooked due to their banality. I dramatize these ordinary moments to encourage an investigation of our expectations and assumptions.
Writing fiction has become an increasingly significant component of my studio practice. Much of the visual work I make is contextualized by these fictions. Building out a world in which my work can exist allows for multiple points of entry for the viewer and provides myself references outside of the dominant art cannon.
2020 We Met in Memphis
2018 Average Art Magazine
2017 A5 Magazine, September
2018 - Present Urban Arts Partnership, New York, NY Teaching Artist: Story Studio; EASE
2018 - 2019 Rasmussen College Adjunct Professor
Awards & Honors
2017 Charles G. Shaw Grant
2016 Official Film Selection, Urban Action Showcase
Official Film Selection, Mecca Con
Space Grant, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Subsidized Studio Space, A.R.T./New York Creative
Charles G. Shaw Grant
2012 Puffin Foundation Grant, Dusky Projects
2001 Sally Crump Byrnes Memorial Scholarship
2000 Myrtle Powell Bowld Traveling Fellowship
2021 Magikal Beasts, Mystical Byways, Deja 42, Philadelphia, PA
2020 And Then I Wake Up, Exponential Festival, Brooklyn, NY
2019 Animals, Site:Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY
2017 Commencement, Smack Melon, Brooklyn, NY
2016 Last Days of Kartika, HBO Urban Action Showcase, New York, NY
Our Voices, Medialia Rack Hamper Gallery, New York, NY
2014 Hero How To, Brick Comic Book Theatre Festival
2013 Fe"-Ma-Le, Budapest, Hungary
2010 Now & Next: Interdisciplinary Works, Tanz Haus NRW, Düsseldorf, Germany
2007 Bought the Farm, Morgan Art Space, Brooklyn, NY
2005 Riveted, Gallery Five, California State University, Long Beach, CA
2003 Complimentary Tangents, David Mah Gallery, Memphis, TN