For three years, artist Tallulah Willis has been working quietly and fervently to create vessels for emotions that she found difficult to express in words. A series of simple line illustrations drafted on notebook paper with watercolor and pastels quickly grew to an army of genderless creatures that defied anatomy and classification.
I almost created these friends I wanted to see,” says Willis of her figures. “I challenged myself to create emotion through minimal imagery; ultimately this collection of images presents an account of feeling isolated and displaced.
After she began posting her creatures on social media, Willis’s popular Instagram feed was inundated with encouraging responses. Though they tend toward the morose, her illustrations are drafted with great sympathy and levity. The curious figures invoke in equal parts the whimsy of Shel Silverstein and the mordant aphorisms of David Shrigley. Willis’ work has appeared in a line of sweatshirts, under the label Buuski , and a t-shirt created with photographer Natalia Mantini benefiting Planned Parenthood.
"Tallulah’s minimal and curious line illustrations express deeply personal emotions, which instantly resonate far and wide," says Buterbaugh. "There is a real feeling of honesty and intimacy as you experience her private world of amorphous characters and friends."
At Eric Buterbaugh Gallery, the artist will present a collection of 45 petite illustrations that will wrap the length of the space in single file infantry of tender grotesquerie. Genderless creatures with oversized noses, feral gums, and displaced limbs, these “characters that don’t belong in the world” are charming at their core and represent what Willis calls “the floaties—a feeling of detachment from oneself.” It’s an emotion that began to take shape during the artist’s very public childhood, having grown up the child of two celebrity parents. “Creating this work” she explains, “has become a safe-haven and has allowed me to express myself freely, without judgment.”