Athena LaTocha (b. Anchorage, Alaska) is an artist whose massive works on paper explore the relationship between human-made and natural worlds, in the wake of Earthworks artists from the 1960s and 1970s. The artist incorporates materials such as ink, lead, earth and wood, while looking at correlations between mark-marking and displacement of materials made by industrial equipment and natural events. Her works are inspired by her upbringing in the wilderness of Alaska. LaTocha’s process is about being immersed in these environments, while responding to the storied and, at times, traumatic cultural histories that are rooted in place.
Her work has been shown across the country in places such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; CUE Art Foundation and Artists Space, New York City; South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings, South Dakota; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana; and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in Anchorage, Alaska. In 2019 she had solo exhibitions at JDJ | The Ice house in Garrison, New York; the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota; and the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Also in 2019, she was artist in residence at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. In early 2021, her work was on view in Land Akin at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, New York and ID: Formations of the Self at Shirley Fiterman Art Center in New York City. Presently, she has two solo exhibitions in the New York City area: Athena LaTocha: In the Wake of . . . on view at BRIC House in downtown Brooklyn; Athena LaTocha: After the Falls at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit. Her work is also featured in Greater New York 2021, Long Island City.
LaTocha is the recipient of artist grants, residencies and awards, among them the Eiteljorg Fellowship and NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Painting in 2021, Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2019 and 2016, Wave Hill in 2018, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in 2013. LaTocha received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Stony Brook University, New York. The artist divides her time between New York City and Peekskill, New York. She is presently in residence at the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program in downtown Brooklyn.
Athena LaTocha, Burning, Sulphuric, Violent, 2020, shellac ink, World Trade Center building sand on paper, 132 x 204 inches. Images courtesy of Shirley Fiterman Art Center. Photo by Jason Mandella