We had the good fortune of connecting with Tracy Richardson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tracy, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Why did you pursue a creative or artistic career?
I have always been an artist and as a kid growing up in the early 1960’s, I wanted to be a photojournalist. My parents had a yearly subscription to National Geographic magazine and I was fascinated by the pictures of people and places that were so different from my surroundings. The images fired my imagination and influenced my life and still does. I come from a family that is very creative on one side and conservative, businesslike on the other. I was influenced very early in life by the music playing in the house and my parents were co-owners of an International art gallery in the 1970’s. They started collecting oil paintings and other great works from artists like Peter Max and Norman Rockwell. I really never considered or believed that a career in art was possible for me until I took some studio sculpture classes in the early 1990’s. My sculpting instructor, Michael Golden encouraged me and introduced me to great female artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Louise Nevelson. Other artists such as Francis Bacon, Franz Kline, Robert Rauschenberg, Lucien Freud and Mark Rothko also inspired me and I wanted to produce works of art like that with a strong impact on the viewer. While living in Houston I spent quite a bit of time at the Rothko Chapel and de Menil Museum and sold my own assemblages at the Menil bookstore. At that time, I was a hairstylist and working my way through college. In the mid nineties I fell into the film industry, moved to Los Angeles and started painting. With the exception of one painting class in junior high school I consider myself self taught.
I really understand what James Baldwin meant when he said ,” As artists, it is our responsibility to add lightness to the darkness. We understand the darkness as others don’t”.
Going through the pandemic solo with my dog, Dodge, has been like going through a dark night of the soul. A part of my life fell apart. My mothers dementia was progressing beyond our ability to manage and my family and I moved her into an assisted living during the pandemic. My fear of getting COVID was off the chart because of my own recent battle with health issues. My art work gave me something else to focus on and the subjects of the art became really personal for me. It was exactly the painful experience I needed to help me grow into a better person. I hope my artwork will impact someone as much as a Francis Bacon or a Nevelson does to me, that would be fantastic!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I don’t know what sets me a part from other people, I imagine whatever it is, its the same that sets all of us a part and unique. I have a way at looking at life based on my personal experiences and I try to respond to adversities as best I can. I try not to live too much in the past, but it happens to be a rich manure to fuel my work sometimes. The “Deconstruction” series is an example of what grew out of my 2020 experiences. That series came about from a culmination of pressures in my personal life and the collective heartbreak and outrage over racial killings and political tensions from purposeful misinformation. I began seeing myself chopping up a 30×40 painting of mine that I had hanging on the wall. I borrowed a hand saw from my neighbor and cut the piece up and made a sculpture out of it and what has followed is a growing body of new work that I am very excited about.
I look for the similarities with my favorite artists and use that to motivate me to keep going. I am currently reading two biographies, one on Francis Bacon,” In Your Blood” and “Dawns + Dusks” a biography on Louise Nevelson. One of the similarities I have with Louise Nevelson is working with found objects, especially wood. It is abundant and easily accessible in my neighborhood and I have carried arm loads home while out walking my dog. I like to maintain some of the historical aspect of the found material but rearrange its structure. I like breaking down the original structure with an electric saw to the smallest parts before rebuilding into a new assemblage that evokes mystery and curiosity to the beholder. I see the material as an extension of myself, physically, emotionally and the act of creating is the spiritual aspect.
The similarities with Bacon are deep and emotional for me and I also really love that Bacon had no formal education in art and that gives me hope to be as effective as he still continues to be. Bacon also destroyed lots of his artwork and I often wonder what those pieces looked like and why he just didn’t recycle them. I will admit that cutting up old pieces of my art has been cathartic and freeing. I had a ceramic instructor in the 90’s who challenged me to destroy a perfectly thrown bowl and “throw it again”. I like the practice, it helps me to practice non attachment in personal and professional life.
So far, I have learned my life is not lived in a straight line. My life is more like “tacking”, a sailing term used by “pointing the head of the ship into and through the wind”. Boats move in a zigzag instead of a straight line across the waters. Jung calls it, “Living or following your snake”, in other words, follow your intuition. Joseph Campbell talks about it in, “The Heroes Journey” as “following your bliss”. As an artist, that is how I live my life and it is an interesting, mysterious, breath taking journey.
My hope is that more people will resonate with my work and find it different, refreshing, mysterious and beautiful.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Silver Lake Pho on Sunset, Chinatown’s Chung King Road, Little Tokyo, Venice Canals. The Getty, The Broad, drive the 2 up to National Forest, go camping or hiking in Joshua Tree, drive up the PCH in any direction. Museum Of Jurassic Technology
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Stephanie Gangel, Ashlea Patterson, Dannie Gaulnier, Matt Richardson, Maude Simmons, Debbie Murphy, Natalie Gaza, Dr. Z
These are all my original photos of my art work.