By Veronica Burniston
Painter, sculptor, potter, and jewelry maker, local artist Tara Belk uses her “gifted vision” to worship God, whom she says gifted her with abundant life.Born in Minnesota, Tara developed a deep love for drawing at a very young age. When she was 14 years old, she received her first oil painting lessons as a gift from her mother and a family friend. Over the years, she continued to pursue her passion for creating art in various mediums.
Tara eventually moved to Arizona, where she married and spent many days sharpening her drawing and painting skills beneath the desert sky. When her husband’s work transferred them to Charlotte, North Carolina, Tara pursued a Creative Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina. After a providential visit with fellow artists in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Tara felt an undeniable “calling to the mountains,” which led her first to Ashe County, North Carolina, and then to Johnson County, Tennessee.
For over four decades, Tara’s paintings and sculptures have been woven through exhibitions, competitions, fairs, and art shops. She has received awards, sold numerous pieces to “private and public collections,” and continues to further her passion by sharing it with young and aspiring artists through teaching.
“Art has been a passion of mine all my life,” Tara noted in her Artist Statement. “I love to teach…and with God’s direction, I desire to influence the next generation of artists positively.”
In recent years, Tara has divided her time between working at her home studio and teaching painting and pottery in Appalachian State University’s Craft Enrichment Department. However, due to the pandemic, her ASU studio art classes have been put on hold, giving her time to work privately in her studio, dabble in online art sales, and focus on the wonders of nature around her.
“I am not interested in merely duplicating something that already exists,” Tara said, “rather in drawing the viewer’s attention to the personality inherent in every living thing waiting to be discovered. Emotional expression and heart connection are the most essential elements I strive to include in each work of art.”
Tara and her work will be featured in an upcoming book “Painters of Ashe County,” which will be released this May on Amazon. To learn more about Tara Belk, visit her website at www.tarajartist.com. For more information about the Johnson County Art Center and its many talented artists, visit its website at jocoartcenter.org or visit in-person on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.