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Atlanta-based artist, Tamara Natalie Madden, dies at 42

Tamara Natalie Madden, an Atlanta-based mixed media artist, has died at age 42. 

The Jamaican-born artist who was also a professor at Spelman College, died Saturday, Nov. 4, two weeks after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

"The arts community is in mourning for our dear friend. She was such an inspiration and encouragement for young artists, women of color and especially Spelman students who respected and revered her. Her work celebrated the African Diaspora and her iconic images will live forever in her memory," said Charmaine Minniefield, lecturer, Art & Visual Culture.

Madden was relatively new to the College, said President Mary Schmidt Campbell, but during her time there Madden had developed drawing and Materials and Concepts courses. She was an “extraordinary artist” who also loved teaching, Schmidt Campbell said.

Though Madden had always been surrounded and motivated by art, she did not turn to the profession full-time until 2001, after recovering from an illness.

Madden had suffered from IgA nephropathy -- an auto-immune disorder which can progress to kidney failure. Diagnosed in 1997, Madden underwent a life-saving kidney transplant in 2001, after receiving a donation from her brother. The experience led her to dedicate her life to the art she was so passionate about.

Her early work reflected her experiences growing up in Jamaica and would evolve over the years, but she always felt compelled to use her art to elevate black people and their image. 

Madden’s work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions around the world, including most recently “i found god in myself: the 40th anniversary of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls” at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. 

Friends of the artist have created a GoFundMe page to help Madden’s only child, Nini, who is a senior at Georgia Southern University. The fund has raised just over $17,500 of the $30,000 goal. 

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.