These days, it can feel like every rising talent is known by a hyphenate, and 23-year-old Tali Lennox is no exception. But this model-painter-actress is so much more than someone who simply dabbles in different art forms; she's a wildly creative young woman who has an interesting perspective on why she likes to shift her artistic focus from one thing to another. "I have to mix mediums to keep it fresh, so I do installation work and I do a lot of acting," she says. "Painting can be extremely isolating. It's intense but it's a beautiful process for me."
Just over a year ago, Lennox went through severe personal trauma when she and boyfriend Ian Jones were involved in a tragic kayaking accident that resulted in his death. Lennox remains composed as she touches on how the experience deeply affected her, but there's no doubt that this tragedy was a source of inspiration for her recent one-night-only exhibit "ASHES & CONFETTI" sponsored by Vogue and AG Jeans.
"Confetti is a symbol of something that's passed, of an energy that has happened. It's the pretty yet melancholic sparkles left behind on the floor. I wouldn't want the message of the show to be anything pessimistic or negative; it's rather to look at things that might frighten us in with curiosity, and it's just something that I have dealt with personally," she says. "We are just visitors here, after all. I have tried to use my art to try and explore it."
Held at the soon-to-be-closing Chelsea Hotel's restaurant El Quijote last week, the exhibit celebrated the journey of life and the iridescence of spirits. All the paintings were reinterpretations of original black-and-white photographs that Lennox randomly found tucked away at antique stores and flea markets or on the streets. She also configured a gigantic memory box made out of clear, plastic cubes that contain items that Lennox hopes will remind people of "a game they played when they were five, a religion, or their grandmother's perfume."
Lennox works out of her home, which has served as a "trinkety, treasury" hub to host all of the pieces until this point. For the past year, she has "lived with the images," and describes them all as the people she sees every day. The location for the show was crucial to the atmosphere that Lennox aimed to create with the pieces, which almost blended into the pastel-colored walls.
"Everyone used to come and have dinner here: Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. This was the spot they would all hang out when they were in the hotel," she says. "The skeleton holds so much, but at the same time, it's kind of a gone moment, so in my way, it's kind of an evening trying to recreate a moment passed which will never be recreated."
The gutted and renovated appearance of the hotel almost adds character to her creative vision and complements the spirit of the show. "You can feel it, but it's a dead moment," she adds. "So it's kind of that window between life and death that I find really interesting."
As she continues to go on about life and death, Lennox is reminded of how her mother always said she had a "morbid curiosity" when she was a child. "For me, it's the unknown and it's the mystery, and I find there is such great beauty in that. I don't make assumptions about death at all, but it's the mystery of it," she says. "It's one of the biggest unanswered questions of history. It's just playing with time, and it's also kind of in a way fighting death with memory or fighting death with the recreation of memory... And just trying to get to grips with the transients of life."
Learn more about the source of Lennox's inspiration in the interview, below.