Library Artist-in-Residence Program: Terrain Walker

We are thrilled to introduce one of two Resident Artists who will be joining us during the 2020-2021 year in the Library .  Each year, we select artists from different disciplines across the college to take up residency in the library, allowing for studio space,  exhibition opportunities, new projects, and  collaboration.

Terrain Walker II (Tj) is a photographer and writer based out of Chicago, IL. Before photography he also dabbled in graphic design, video editing, and making photomontages. Around the age of 15 he took multiple photography classes that elevated his love for the artform. He dropped everything else and fully committed becoming a photographer. He currently studies photography at Columbia College Chicago while also adding new skills to his repertoire.  When he’s not out taking photos you could most likely find him reading, competing in fighting games, getting tattooed, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or watching anime. 

Photography Instagram – @/tlw.ii 


Twitter: @/tlw.ii 

 We are very excited that you are joining the Library this year as one of our Artists in Residence. Can you speak a bit about your background as an artist and what brought you to Columbia?  I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember but as of the last six or so years, I’ve been completely enamored with photography (With some writing and design sprinkled in here and there too). Columbia felt like the perfect choice for me to continue my career as an artist due to the unconventional college environment. The city of Chicago being considered my campus was much more compelling to me as opposed to the standard college campus.  

What initially inspired you to apply for the Library Artist in Residence Position?

My first semester here at Columbia I took a fashion class. The former artist in residency, Julia Arrendondo, was one of the TA’s for that class. And that’s where I met her and discovered her work as an artist for the first. The semester after that we connected a bit and she’s personally helped me out with multiple projects. She encouraged me to apply for the position which I was hesitant about at first, but after a while I realized the resources and space I would be provided with would help me out a lot. 

We were very excited to see that you work in various mediums (visual arts, writing) in your creative practice, especially since we always try to emphasize the Library as a place for interdisciplinary synergy to happen.  How do you feel working across mediums informs your work?  

Working with both writing and visual arts has always been an interesting thing to me. I’ve always loved doing both in one way or another. Both mediums work perfectly fine on their own, but I think when text and image are used in conjunction with each other they can create amazing works of art. I don’t always include writing with my work but when I do my ideas and final products are usually at their best. 

Can you speak a bit to your experience of libraries in general—school, public, academic–how it relates to both your personal education and development as an artist?

Libraries have always been an important part of my life in one way or another. I first started to really love reading because of the library in elementary school. My experience with libraries gets a lot more personal in high school. Highschool was a weird and stressful time for me in more than one way. The school library was always a haven for me to read or work on projects with a peaceful state of mind. Plus, I had a good relationship with my librarian around junior year.  She helped me get back into reading which is something I really needed at the time. After graduation, I went on to work at a library for a while before college. It gave me the opportunity to see how helpful libraries could be from an insider perspective and it helped me learn to interact with different people as an artist.

What do you hope to gain from your Residency in the Library this coming year?  

My want to continue to develop and evolve as an artist overall. After one year of being in downtown Chicago my art has already vastly improved from where it was. Now that I have this residency, I feel that I’ll grow just as much if not more because of that. I also always hope to be meeting new artists and just people in general. I love collaborating with others, but I haven’t had the chance to do that too much recently. 

What are your current and future projects?  What should we look forward to from you next?

I’m currently working on/conceptualizing multiple short and long term projects. Right now, I’m working on collaboration project with a friend that will tell a story in three parts using only photos. My current long-term project is called “Impressions”. I’m going to be interviewing tattoo artists and collectors about their relationships with tattoos and tattoo culture as well as taking portraits of them. Hopefully over the course of the next year I’ll be collaborating with more musicians on things like album covers and promotional shoots as well.  These projects are where my focus is at right now but, I’m always writing and documenting life around me so new things come up constantly. 

Watch for an interview with our second Resident Artists, Laura Hawbaker, soon…