Tariqa Waters manages a multi-faceted practice as a visual artist, alternative gallerist, curator and educator. Waters was born in Richmond, Virginia. She taught herself to be a painter, learning from other artists in her family and a period of time working as a muralist in Sicily. She exhibited her paintings in group exhibitions in the Metro D.C. area and in Atlanta where she lived prior to moving to Seattle in 2012. In only four years in Seattle, Waters has made an indelible mark on the city’s arts community and the Pioneer Square neighborhood. The move to the neighborhood also shifted Waters’ practice as her life and work began to merge in unexpected ways. In 2013 Waters opened, Martyr Sauce: A “renegade” gallery and platform for generating press and attention for marginalized perspectives. Originally located in the stairwell/storefront entry to her live/work loft space, Martyr Sauce recently re-located two blocks away in a larger underground space that used to house, Bud’s Jazz Records. In the summer of 2017, Martyr Sauce became a Cultural Partner to the Seattle Art Fair.


In 2014, Waters’ public art installation, No I in Self in Pioneer Square’s Occidental Park was commissioned through ARTSparks and the Office of Arts and Culture. Waters’ commitment to providing a creative platform for other artists is evident in First Thursday openings, exhibitions, and performances at Martyr Sauce and in her co-curation of a series of exhibitions at The Paramount Theater. She and co-curator, Jonathan Moore, describe the mission of Re:definition as a place to “showcase, within the historic cultural space of The Paramount Theatre, the work of Black Seattle artists. By providing sustained exposure for ideas and perspectives too often marginalized, we hope to challenge preconceptions and facilitate awareness and understanding.”


Waters’ own artwork has been garnering support and critical acclaim in the region and abroad. Her art and her gallery were featured in 2017 spring issues of French Rolling Stone and Madame Figaro magazine. She created cover art for The Stranger three times and was herself featured on the cover of City Arts Magazine’s annual 2015 Future List edition. She has been included in group exhibitions at Vermillion, The Art of the City Festival, Seattle Public Utilities Cultural Perspective, The Frye Art Museum, Pivot Art + Culture, and Out of Sight. In 2016, Waters was nominated for the prestigious James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award and recipient of the Conductive Garboil Grant. Her solo exhibition, 100% Kanekalon: The Untold Story of the Marginalized Matriarch, exhibited at the Northwest African American Museum June 4 - October 16, 2016. Tariqa was a featured speaker at the 2017 Seattle Art Fair and she also works as a teaching artist at the Seattle Art Museum, where she presented two interactive mural installations as part of the Pop Departures and City Dwellers and Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic.