Spotlight on Tulsa Artist Alex Tamahn: Discovering Inspiration and Self-Discovery in Los Angeles Residency


Alex Tamahn: Tulsa Artist Finds Inspiration and Self-Discovery in Los Angeles Residency
Written by: Grace Wood (@grace_wood1)
Photographed by: Iasiah G Pickens III (@iziapluscamera)


Tulsa-based artist Alex Tamahn is the second of eight artists-in-residence living in Los Angeles, California. Through a partnership with A Creative House and Donkey Bridge, Tamahn and his fellow artists have the opportunity to spend 5 weeks in L.A. creating, building relationships with other artists, honing their skills, and gathering inspiration.


Tamahn arrived in L.A. in early February and will stay through mid-March. While in this residency, Tamahn said he is taking full advantage of his time to connect with other creatives, but also, with himself on a deeper level.


“I’ve never been here for this length of time with these specific people, so there is a newness to this experience that I’m really grateful for,” Tamahn said. “Some of our existential crises as artists are born from the monotony and tedium of ‘doing the thing’ and keep at it for as long as we have … We ask ourselves, ‘Am I where I’m supposed to be?’ or ‘Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?’ Right now, I feel very aligned with myself in my practice and my process because I’ve been given the opportunity to do work that I’m excited about.”


Tamahn is a talented Tulsa artist whose work is not limited to a single category. Whether he is designing a colorful mural, creating a sculpture, painting, or working with textiles, his art knows no bounds and is meant to spark conversation.


“My work is narrative-based and oftentimes looks at social issues — things that are a bit less savory and not always easy to talk about,” Tamahn said. “I’m able to ostensibly have conversations with people through my work, [conversations] that we may never actually get the opportunity to sit down and have face-to-face. Even if they don’t necessarily share my thoughts and feelings on a matter, the fact that they’re engaged in the cognitive and emotional listening to talk about it and to feel about it is meaningful, and I think it means we’re doing something right.”


While in Los Angeles, Tamahn is focusing on utilitarian sculpture that is inspired by one of his biggest passions: pole dancing. The artist started pole dancing during the pandemic as a way to connect with others and reconnect with his body, where he discovered a true love for the practice.


Since starting only a few years ago, Tamahn has grown extremely skilled in the art of pole dancing and regularly competes in competitions all over the country. Since flying to Los Angeles for the residency, Tamahn has dedicated a lot of time to pole dancing, exploring different studios, and meeting other dancers — honing his craft while forging a mind-body connection that, in turn, inspires his art.

“Pole dancing involves my body, and it also involves storytelling, moving through trauma and giving a physical expression to it ,” Tamahn said. “This whole opportunity with A Creative House and Donkey Bridge has been so aligned because it helps me further the convergence of a very diverse, multi-faceted creative practice — I’ve been able to merge dance with the visual components of my art.”


Tamahn’s love for pole dancing comes as part of his desire to be his best self, physically and mentally, in order to reach his full potential as an artist.


“I believe that the best version of myself is capable of doing my best work,” Tamahn said. “The whole, ‘tortured artist,’ and ‘What’s bad for your heart is good for your art’ narrative has never resonated with me — I’ve been in unhealthy emotional places and it hasn’t been great for my creative practice. I want to have a well-rounded, holistic, healthy experience, where I’m using and engaging with my body. I’m very grateful to have as versatile a movement practice as I do a visual artistic practice.”

The opportunity to see Tamahn’s finished art on display will happen once all artists have completed the residency next fall. To stay up to date with Tamahn and his work, follow him on Instagram @alexandertamahn and @alex_with_his_fine_ass.