Athena Tacha

Athena Tacha (1936- )

A native of Larissa, Greece, Tacha received an M.A. in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts, Athens (1959); an M.A. in art history from Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio (1961); and a Doctorate in aesthetics from the Sorbonne University in Paris (1963). After her studies, she worked as Curator of Modern Art at the Allen Art Museum of Oberlin College (1963-73), and published two books and various articles on Rodin, Brancusi and other 20th century sculptors. In 1973, after gaining wide recognition as an artist, including First Sculpture Prizes three times at the Cleveland May Show, she began to teach sculpture as Professor of Art at Oberlin, a position she held until 2000. In 1981, the same year she was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize for Visual arts, she installed her monumental sculpture Twist in Harris Park for the Putnam Collection. In the four decades since then she has emerged as one of the most prominent artists on the international scene. Tacha has been credited with not only creating some of the earliest site-specific pieces in this country (the work for which she is best known) but also with being one of the first artists to use the phrase ‘site-specific sculpture.’ In the mid-1970s her large-scale outdoor works have won more than a dozen national competitions and commissions. In 1986, Tacha created Merging, one of her best site-specific sculptures situated on the former campus of Mather College for Women. Designed to symbolize the merging of the several educational institutions that came together to become Case Western Reserve University, a monumental “step” sculpture evocative of the architectural forms of her native Greece, it combines two kinds of hand cut granite slabs with cascading water to form a “dry “ side of red granite for sitting and a “wet” side of gray granite that catches the sunlight and reflective movement of the water as it flows over the textured stone. It is a poetic tribute by a woman artist to the generation of women who studied and lived on that part of campus and went on to make significant contributions to scholarship and society. The terraced sculpture has been used by the Dance Department for annual performances to welcome Spring, and has been voted the favorite place for students to sit, gather, and study. Tacha is recognized world-wide for her many large public projects and installations in urban and university settings . She has created important, works for the International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, an “Ice Walls” sculpture for Anchorage, Alaska, “Green Acres” for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and an unrealized “Five Massacre Memorials” series referencing the Holocaust, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Vietnam, India/Pakistan conflicts, and wars in Central America. In addition to such large public projects, Tacha has created a homeless shelter, body sculptures, and environmental and other works in support of social and political awareness and advocacy. Among her other notable large public projects are the Muhammad Ali Plaza (two levels with a glass fountain, an amphitheater and performance area) covering one city block in Louisville Kentucky (2000-09) , and the Wisconsin Place Metro Station at Bloomingdales Plaza, Bethesda, Maryland (2000-09). Since 1998 she has been an Affiliate of the University of Maryland, College Park, and lives in Washington, D.C .

Works in the collection:

3 Twist, 1981
Bellflower Road, Harris Park, [1981.3]

15 Merging, 1986
Bellflower Road Mather Quadrangle, [1987.1]


The Putnam Sculpture Collection
Case Western Reserve University
11201 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7110