Tau Lewis: Vox Populi, Vox Dei

Curator’s note by Ebony L. Haynes. Text by Tiana Reid. Poem by Yves B. Golden


Tau Lewis’s mythical sculptures create elaborate portals into fantastic worlds. 


“At 52 Walker, artist Tau Lewis transmutes the lifeblood of scrap objects into something sanctified. . . . I’m reminded that an art gallery can also be a temple.” —New York magazine

Following her acclaimed presentation Divine Giants Tribunal at the 2022 Venice Biennale, Lewis has continued to create—from salvaged textiles and other found materials—anthropomorphic forms inspired by those in Yoruban mask dramas, which are spiritually activated by the wearer and the audience and, by extension, their community. Likewise referencing the work of the Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka, classical Greek and Roman mythology and drama, science fiction, and angelology, Lewis develops her characters’ identities and narratives in an intermediary world that implicates our ancestral pasts, spiritual and cultural similitudes, and multiplanar existences. Documenting and expanding on Lewis’s body of work shown at her 52 Walker exhibition Vox Populi, Vox Dei, this catalogue contextualizes the artist’s investigations and expressions.

Poetry by the multidisciplinary artist and activist Yves B. Golden complements Lewis’s otherworldly motifs. With a curator’s note by Ebony L. Haynes, this publication also features an essay by Tiana Reid that explores Lewis’s practice, drawing connections between sources that range from Joy James to Frederick Douglass.


Publisher: 52 Walker/David Zwirner Books

Artists: Tau Lewis

Contributors: Ebony L. Haynes, Clarion, Yves B Golden, Tiana Reid

Designer: Andrea Hyde

Printer: VeronaLibri, Verona

Publication Date: 2023

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 6.5 × 9.25 in | 16.5 × 23.2 cm

Pages: 104

Reproductions: 56 illustrations

ISBN: 9781644231142

Retail: $35 | $47 CAN | £25

Status: Available

Tau Lewis

Born in Toronto, Tau Lewis is a self-taught artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Lewis was included in the 2022 Venice Biennale exhibition The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani. The Public Art Fund commissioned work by the artist to be included in the 2022 group presentation Black Atlantic at Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York. The artist has forthcoming solo exhibitions at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Hayward Gallery, London; Haus der Kunst, Munich; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Lewis is represented by Night Gallery, Los Angeles, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Her work is held in the collections of Grinnell College Museum of Art, Grinnell, Iowa; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Library Collection, New York; and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Ebony L. Haynes

Ebony L. Haynes is a writer and curator from Toronto. She is based in New York, where she is a director at David Zwirner. Haynes is a visiting curator and critic at the Yale School of Art in the painting and printmaking class of 2021. She also runs an online “school” that offers free professional practice classes to Black students worldwide. 


The Clarion series of illustrated publications is positioned as an extension of each exhibition at the groundbreaking gallery space 52 Walker, curated by Ebony L. Haynes. The program focuses on showcasing conceptual and research-based artists from a range of backgrounds and at various stages in their careers. The series title is derived from the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the oldest of its kind, at the University of California, San Diego. Octavia Butler attended this workshop in the 1970s. Butler’s writing has been influential in the conceptual framework of the program and the Clarion series. With a sleek design influenced by encyclopedias, each publication features color reproductions of the works on view, alongside an introduction by Haynes, commissioned essays, artist texts, archival materials, and more.

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Yves B Golden

Yves B. Golden is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and organizer. Her collaborative and solo works have been featured at Caleb Bingham Gallery, University of Missouri, Columbia; ICA, London; Raw Material Company, Dakar, Senegal; Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, London; Springsteen Gallery, Baltimore; and Yaby Project Space, Madrid.

Tiana Reid

Tiana Reid is an assistant professor in the Department of English at York University, Toronto. She is a former editor at The New Inquiry and Pinko, and her writing has been featured in Artforum, Dissent, Frieze, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and The Paris Review, among other publications. She lives in Toronto.

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