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Art & Life with Tracy Spadafora

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracy Spadafora.

Tracy, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I have loved to draw and paint since childhood. I focused on art from grade school to high school and continued on to Boston University’s School of Fine Arts where I received a BFA in Painting in 1989. After college I waited tables for years, while doing freelance photography and graphic design. After years working various jobs in the field of art, I decided that commercial art would not be the best career choice for me, so I decided to go back to school for an MFA, mainly to get the credentials to teach on a college level.

I chose the State University of New York in New Paltz, not only for its program, but also for its beautiful setting in the Hudson Valley and its close proximity to NYC. SUNY New Paltz challenged me to focus creatively, develop themes in my work, and become a critical thinker. During graduate school I also worked for the company R&F Handmade Paints as a paint maker. At R&F I learned a lot about encaustic painting, a technique I have used in my work ever since. Following graduate school, I started teaching encaustic painting workshops, as well as other studio art classes, at colleges, museums, and art centers. I have taught art to all ages over the past 21 years. In addition to teaching, making art has been my career. When I am making art, I feel like I am searching for meaning as I try to express elusive concepts or emotions. Although I research subjects of interest and sometimes have a methodical approach to working with materials, I often let materials speak through me by simply following my intuition.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Over the years I have primarily worked with themes exploring the relationship of man and nature. Environmental questions and concerns are the focus of my current work, the “DNA” series. I find beauty not just in nature but also in decay, such as, collapsing structures, peeling paint, and rust. I have been collecting organic matter and rusty objects for years and they are often incorporated into my work. DNA sequences serve as a foundation for my paintings, box constructions, and sculptures. The sequences are intriguing because they provide both visual patterning and symbolic reference. The sequences of letters represent one universal meaning, the building blocks of life, yet each DNA string is completely unique and mysterious. Although I often use specific DNA codes that have a relationship to the subjects I layer on top, the significance is not in the actual codes themselves. The work is built on visual and symbolic associations and the layering and preserving of images and objects helps to address a complex and shifting relationship between man, his biological roots, and the shaping of our natural environment.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
As a visual artist I spend the majority of my time in the solitude of “creative flow”, but over the years I have met many artists through art groups, co-op galleries, taking classes, going to art openings and conferences, and volunteering in my local community. Most towns / cities need artists to help facilitate programs and projects that bring art to the community and this is a great way to meet other artists. I am also fortunate in that I continually meet talented and interesting people through teaching art.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can explore my work on my website and at Fountain Street Gallery in Boston, MA. I am currently showing work in a group exhibition called “Recreating Nature” at Fountain Street, which will be on view until Aug. 26. I also have work listed on an online global marketplace called 1stdibs. You can support my work by coming to see my exhibitions and by purchasing my art!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Marie Craig

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