Named one of the Grio’s 40 amazing Black artists to watch in 2014, Tamara Natalie Madden painted brilliant, spiritually attuned mixed media portraits of people of the African diaspora. Sadly, over the weekend news of the Spelman College professor’s sudden death sent shockwaves through the creative black community.
According to a GoFundMe page set up by family members, Madden lived by the mantra “create as much as you can, while you can.”
The 42-year-old was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Her GoFundMe page says the Jamaican-born painter discovered her passion for art after a rare diagnosis and kidney failure that left her on dialysis in 1997, and she credited her newfound creativity with getting her through that life-threatening illness.
She pursued art professionally, and had her first exhibition in 2001, the same year she received a kidney transplant from her brother. Since then, she had numerous solo and group exhibitions nationwide and her magnetic, blue black hued works were featured in numerous publications, including Upscale magazine, the Huffington Post and the New York Times.
Madden is survived by a daughter.
“No one is more affected by this sudden loss than her only child, Nini, a senior at Georgia Southern University who also works three jobs,” the GoFundMe reads. “Tam instilled in her daughter a drive to succeed, and Nini has found her passion: she is pursuing a degree in education with a minor in theater, and has just started her teaching program. As we all try to cope with this sudden loss, we ask that you please give what you can to support Nini through this difficult time.”