Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tracey Adams: Carmel, California

Installation of eleven scrolls in Adams' show:
Between Gesture and Geometry,
Fresno Art Museum
Fresno, California 2011

LH: Can you tell us a little about your background? 
TA: I was born in L.A. and am the daughter of a ceramic artist. My Mom provided many opportunities for art expression in her studio and through summer programs and classes. Her sensibility was Japanese minimalistic drawings and prints, obviously a very strong influence on my work.

Adams at work

After college in L.A., where I majored in music, I received a scholarship to study conducting (grad school) at the New England Conservatory of Music. At the same time, I realized I wanted to be an artist, but did not have a portfolio to support my being accepted anywhere. I enrolled in many drawing and printmaking classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and MFA courses later on at California State University at Long Beach. I studied with Michael Mazur, Hugh O'Donnell, and others who influenced and shaped me as an artist, but this was many years ago. I've been painting in a focused way since 1978 and creating art since I was a child. Art and music have been the primary focuses of my life since I was young.

LH: What is your current work about? 
TA: My current work is about the "cannibalisation" of my prints, both encaustic monotypes and etchings. I cut and tear my works on paper into fragments deconstructing them, then proceed to construct new images in a jigsaw puzzle-like process. This way of working allows me to recycle my long scrolls, which have been exhibited in many public installations as well as creating new smaller works. For the last 2 years I've been working on collages on paper as well as on panel. The works on panel use encaustic and oil as a basis for embedding the collages. To provide a little history, I attended New England Conservatory of Music and am a trained musician. This helps me visualize things in a musical way. In other words, people who choose to spend time with my work view it horizontally as well as vertically, much like a piece of music. 

Collages photographed by Renee Balducci Huston

Collage on paper 

17" x 14" 

LH: What is your studio like?
TA: My studio is on the second floor of my house and looks south to Point Lobos, though now it mostly looks out to trees which have grown and blocked my little ocean view. I have an etching press, 2 hot boxes bought from Paula Roland, an inking table and a table for working on encaustic paintings (I work flat).

Adams at work in her studio 

LH: Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? TA: At various times I've been involved with the Los Angeles Printmaking Society and a group of women who are printmakers where I live on the Monterey Peninsula. For many years, I offered workshops through my studio and the Monterey Museum of Art, but have not done so for quite a while. I am a member of IEA, but don't participate. I live 2+ hours from San Francisco which makes active participation difficult. I am also a member of the San Francisco Collage Collective, a group of artists who get together on an informal basis to collage and share work and ideas. Recently, some members of this group had work featured in a collage show at Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto. The demands on my personal life have become such that I don't have very much time to be involved in arts organizations.

Collage on paper 

17" x 14" 

LH: How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?
TA: I have a few good friends/colleagues who live locally and we share our work and our struggles, helping each other out as needed. I also have 2 close friends who live in Santa Fe, one being Paula Roland, and we share issues pertaining to art and the art world. I receive many emails and requests via my website and Facebook, usually with questions attached about how I create my work, how to find a gallery and getting started as an artist, etc. I always answer these questions.

Collage on paper 

17" x 14" 

LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
TA: Habits? Yes, I meditate daily and try to live as presently as possible. I am a quiet and introspective person by nature which allows me periods of observation and contemplative time. As I've gotten older I realize these moments of solitude are essential to my creation process, not to mention my well-being. I do a lot of drawing where I turn off my brain and see what happens. This practice is a prerequisite to almost everything I do in the studio.

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art? 
TA: I have another job that is really important and essential. I teach yoga at 2 studios: Yin, Restorative and Gentle yoga, and Pilates. I love sharing with people and helping others learn to relax and work through the stressful moments of their lives. Most of my classes are filled with women who are between 40 and 60, trying to connect with something that gives them peace and balance in their lives.

LH: Please describe a bit about your process.
TA: A few years ago, I realized that I enjoy process. Process in printmaking, process in painting, specifically in encaustic. I was a member of the first R&F Encaustic workshop in San Francisco in 1998 — we came close to burning down the post WWII wooden building in Sausalito where the workshop was held. I am a restless artist who works in series and when they come to their natural completion, I move on to another body of work. My work is deeply connected to the music, to the coastal area where I live, and to my spiritual life.

LH: What is your media? 
TA: Drawing, printmaking, painting in oil and encaustic and for the last 2 years: collage. I combine and reconfigure many ideas that I've worked with for the last 30+ years.

LH: What are you reading? 
TA: I don't have a lot of time to read, but find I like to constantly educate myself about yoga and Pilates. I'm currently reading Allen Menezes: Joseph Pilates' Techniques of Physical Conditioning.

Photo from Amazon.com

Where would you like to be in five years from now? 
TA: I try not to go there as it gets me in trouble when I think about the future too much. I love to solve problems within the art making process and am satisfied to let this lead me down the road to wherever things end up. Everything has always worked out during the last 30 years of art making, not without the usual bumps in the road and struggles, but that's when the good stuff happens. I love struggle and get concerned when the "process" goes too easily. There are times every few years that I stop working for a few months because I'm stuck. The last time this happened was the end of 2007 for four months and that was followed by an incredibly fruitful period of collage work and scroll making.

You can read another interview with Tracey on Geoform.net

And you can see more of her work at http://www.traceyadamsart.com. There are inks on her website to galleries where her work is shown.

Thank-you, Tracey!


Unknown said...

Thank you Lynette and Tracey for this post. Loved getting details on the working process and how other elements of Tracey's life influence the art. Also enjoyed a new bit of info about her background in music.

Nancy Natale said...

This was an interesting interview - as usual. I'm also a fan of cannibalizing my old work and enjoy seeing what I've made previously used in new ways. The influence of music and movement on Tracey's work has to account for the rhythmic but subtle compositions you show in the post. Thanks to you both for sharing. I'm glad to know more about Tracey's background. I'm envious of her having a mother who was an artist.

LynetteH said...

Thanks Nancy and Jane. Tracey's work and background are very interesting.