History and heritage serve as inspirational, guiding forces in life. Without knowing one’s history, how can she plan for the future or fully comprehend her present? Many of us look to familial history to better understand ourselves and what has brought us to this very day. Furthermore, cultural roots can color our creativity, for they instill in us concepts of traditional and abstract beauty. For painter Tamara Natalie Madden, heritage is a dominating theme of her artwork. This artist’s cultural ancestry not only serves as a pivotal force behind her paintings, but it actually saved her life.
Growing up in Manchester, Jamaica, Madden was exposed to art very early in life. Her mother was a writer and photographer, and various members of her family were visual artists. In an interview with the online art magazine The Morning News, Madden described her early artistic influences: “My uncles were ‘raw’ artists. They were [Rastas], and they sculpted and drew. One of my uncles was actually my very first artistic inspiration.”