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Discarded instruments become colorful pieces of art in the hands of musician and artist Tara Nolan Moody. written by Melanie Crownover photographed by Joe Worthem


ver since Crave coffee shop co-owner Tiffany Franks hung the vibrant sugar skull guitar her husband commissioned six months ago, it’s been a conversation starter in the Tupelo café. “We get a lot of questions about that one, no doubt,” she said. “We have a small Elvis theme going on in there, so it fit, but it gets quite a reaction. The table where it hangs is one of the most popular spots in the place now.” The piece was made by country singer and professional artist Tara Nolan Moody (pictured at left). Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee for more than a decade; however, custom guitars have become part of her repertoire only in the past year. “My mom had started buying me cheap old guitars at yard sales and thrift stores because of my music, and they’d started to pile up,” she said. “Painting them was just a natural progression because it combined two of the things that I love the most.” Moody calls it “guit-art.” It takes her at least a week to reinvent one instrument from start to finish. The process involves de-stringing her secondhand finds and sanding them down until smooth. Then comes a base coat of spray paint, preferably in a metallic finish. After freehand drawing the overall design in permanent marker on the back of the body, Moody applies acrylic paints to create the images. Each project is finished with a heavy coat of epoxy to give it durability and gloss. Sugar skull guitars – resembling the traditional decorations for the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday – are her specialty and most requested pieces, but they’re far from her only October 2017 | INVITATION TUPELO


Invitation Tupelo - October 2017