Death of ‘Facing the Fearbeast’ Artist Tigre Mashaal-Lively Mourned

Artist, 37, co-founded Santa Fe’s Earthseed Black Arts Alliance

Santa Fe multi-disciplinary artist Tigre Mashaal-Lively died over the weekend. Friends and family who say they’ll remember Mashaal-Lively, 37, for being a creative storyteller and a loving collaborator wrote and released a statement through Mashaal-Lively’s social media accounts on Tuesday stating the artist “left this world of their own volition to travel to the next realm of their being.”

A co-founder and member of Santa Fe’s Earthseed Black Arts Alliance and graduate of Vermont’s Bennington College, Mashaal-Lively grew up in Philadelphia and has shown their artwork across the planet. They moved to Santa Fe in 2019 and almost immediately set to work creating across a wide swath of mediums, including dance, illustration and, perhaps most famously, large-scale immersive sculpture.

Mashaal-Lively’s work appeared at enduringly popular arts and music festivals such as Lightning in a Bottle and Electric Forest; they were also an honorarium grant recipient from Burning Man, one of the most-known gatherings on the planet. In addition to helping establish Earthseed, Mashaal-Lively was also a co-founding member of the Braided Branches Collective, which created the O’Gah Po’Geh Altar Project, an altar of wood and manipulated branches that stood in Santa Fe’s Railyard Park for a time. They also worked in various forms with arts incubators and dance troupes, including Design Science Studio and Bad Unki Sista, the latter of which being the arts and performance project of close friend and collaborator Anastazia Louise, who was a key player in the creation and installtion of the 21-foot “Solacii” sculpture outside of Guadalupe Street’s form & concept gallery.

Just two months ago, Mashaal-Lively was wrapping production on the interactive sculpture that turned out to be their swan song, “Facing the Fearbeast,” about which SFR wrote in-depth. Created with a grant from Burning Man and with assistance from a wide variety of donors, volunteers, interns, fellow artists and multi-talented fabricators and welders from local shop Stark Raven Fabrication, which Mashaal-Lively helped found, the Fearbeast was an interactive piece about facing one’s fears, evolving with and through them, and hopefully becoming better for it.

“The real crux of this piece is not just about facing the things that terrify us, but being able to see through that to what needs love and compassion,” Mashaal-Lively told SFR about that project in August. “It’s finding this place that’s like, ‘OK, is there a place of peace that is not inaction, but that allows access to careful thought, considered choices?’ When you’re at peace, you have access to a wider range of outcomes.”

According to Mashaal-Lively’s mother, Linda Marshall, the artistic spirit was simply a part of them.

“I will tell you two things,” she tells SFR. “It absolutely was there from the very beginning, and that the number one classic story I tell is that when they were in daycare, they were probably 9 months old, and they had done some finger painting, and [the caregivers] gave me this finger-painting they had done and said, ‘It looks like a firebird.’ There was an image in there that, at 9 months old, people could recognize.”

Marshall says she was dedicated to Mashaal-Lively attending more arts-focused schools, and by the time they went off to Bennington, they were adept at creating worlds and stories through more media than seems possible.

“Their creativity, their sense of storytelling, their ability to relate to the animal kingdom—there are so many things,” Marshall continues. “Their love of books and learning, and their interest in mythology; these are things they carried with them the rest of their life.”

“I think Tigre was a person of so many different communities,” says longtime friend Ruben Pacheco, who met Mashaal-Lively at a roleplaying summer camp when the artist was still a teen. “From the start, they lived their truth.”

Storytelling and introspection through visual arts became almost like a reflex within Mashaal-Lively’s practice. And as much as their creations seemed to speak of love and comfort for others, they were open about searching for such things themselves. Perhaps this could explain their dedication to working across so many mediums. Because of these efforts, friends and collaborators say Mashaal-Lively cast an inimitable shadow during a short time in Santa Fe.

At form & concept, for example, writer and gallery director Jordan Eddy tells SFR he’s been slingshotting through emotions for days. Artist Pascal Emmer, who suggested form & concept show Mashaal-Lively’s work alongside their own for 2021′s Entangled Futurities exhibit, tells SFR that “Tigre was a brilliant spirit who was ushering us toward the future we need—a future world where everyone is cared for, liberated from fear and oppression; to be our most free, compassionate selves.”

It doesn’t end there.

“There are absolutely no words,” says Stark Raven Fabrication’s Calli Beck. “We just are trying to figure out how to move forward without them. We don’t know how because they’re so intrinsic to who we are and what we do.”

“Everything that was big, I built with them…I don’t really know what we do now,” adds Stark Raven’s Lucas Janowski. “I don’t know what I do now, but I am alive because of Tigre; I am an artist because of Tigre; I know how to be loved because of Tigre. They were my grandest love.”

Lifelong friend Sophia Wise One chalks Mashaal-Lively’s magnetism up to a willingness to be vulnerable on the deepest level, but also to embrace their own flawed existence.

“They always had a profound sensitivity inside a really rough world,” she tells SFR. “One of the things I can say is that their ability to articulate the suffering most conscious and sensitive and alive beings feel at some point came from their ability to share and reflect in this beautiful way that was a result of the magnitude to which they experienced being alive.”

A memorial service will take place at 10 am Friday, Oct. 7 at Rivera Funeral Home and is open to all, according to the social media post. Friends and family will also hold an informal gathering at form & concept from 1-4 pm on Saturday, Oct. 8 to be followed by an evening dance party at Stark Raven Fabrication.

In addition to their mother, Mashall lively is survived by father Donald Lively, partner Jhana Goldenflame, cat IshqAllah and “their family and community in Santa Fe as well as the uncountable friends and loved ones all over the world.”

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