Ta-coumba T. Aiken
Ta-coumba has been an artist/art activist for over forty years.
Aiken is the force behind some of Minnesota’s most acclaimed public artworks. Since the early 1970s, he has created public art in collaboration with schools, neighborhood organizations, and city planning and development departments on works such as the Jax / Gillette Children’s Hospital mural, the Minneapolis Central Library’s fourth floor fireplace, Seventh and Robert Street Municipal parking ramp, the Good Thunder Grain Elevator North Side’s Pilot City murals project. He supports the use of his artwork by organizations involved in pursuing social justice.
As an artist who has worked in the public sphere, Aiken has learned how to identify opportunities that exist in architectural, landscape and public works projects. He works in a wide range of glass, metal, clay, wood, and landscaping materials, and some of his recent public art projects with painted glazes on large ceramic installations have given his mural work new permanence.
Inspired by his mother at a young age, his first canvases already showed an eye-catching style and an advanced command of lines. Then, when an accident at age 11 impaired his perception of colors, the young artist turned to paint pens and ink, opting to paint directly from the bottles when having problems seeing colors. Today, the variety of tone and contrasting colors in his work has become a hallmarks of Aiken’s eye-catching style and perspective. Working from black and white outlines, he describes his process of coloration and shape building as “spirit writing” and his usage of repeating imagery as “rhythm patterns.” His artistic philosophy is driven by his desire to “create art to heal the hearts and souls of people and their communities by evoking a positive spirit.”