Interview with Traci Shipley


Neoteric Art: Tell us a little about yourself.

Traci Shipley: If I had to choose a type of novel I would be, I would be a mystery novel, a classic novel like Agatha Christie. Where the heroes and villains are ambiguous, not until the final pages is the real story revealed.

I always say that I happened upon being an artist; I knew I could draw from an early age, but I never cared to use it. I grew into it over time, when my interest in the tangible of art took over; the smell of oil paint, the feel and textures of objects, the visual illusions on canvas. The vulnerability and immortality of a great piece of art led me down this path I am currently walking down.

philadelphia1.jpgNA: Your current work deals with conspiracies and legends. How did you become interested in these topics?

TS: I am a huge reader, especially as a young child. It was an event for our family to go to the weekly book mobile down the street. I read Encyclopedia Brown adventures. One of my favorite authors was Daniel Cohen; he wrote books on monsters, ghosts and the unexplained. I also lived on choose your own adventure novels. These images of the unknown and unbelievable, has always fueled my imagination. As I grew older it evolved into a psychological study on why people look to the fringe and beyond to search for something that may or may not be there.

NA: The main components of your work are chalk and board. Is there a varnish or protective coating? Chalk on board seems fragile…meant to be erased. Is that the point? Please elaborate.

TS: I do put a protecting coating on my work. I enjoy the dichotomy of the fragility of chalk, and the monumental impact we associate this delicate medium with, that of education. As chalk is disappearing in our schools as a method to teach facts, I feel that the history associated with chalk as an educational tool is important to my work. To present an avenue of fringe beliefs, and alternative histories with chalk and board through a medium that historically presented facts as a tool to educate.

NA: Do you consider your work painting, drawing, sculpture…?

TS: When people ask me what type of art I do, I say I paint. I guess it is just a remnant of my past. I have painted for so long, tried to become a classical painter and then three years ago I had an idea to use chalk. I use the chalk like I did with brushes and oil paint. Except now I use my hands and water, smearing and layering like oil paint, with just a little more dirt on my hands.

NA: Do you see yourself continuing with your current ideas or are you planning on experimenting with something new?

I feel that I am just tapping this vein of thought; it is an evolving door of new myths and legends. As long as people continue to look beyond our perceived history into the outskirts of credibility, I’ll have something to do.

moondet1.jpgNA: Who have been your influences and why?

TS: I like to look at Artists who use their medium well. I enjoy Joseph Turner’s brushstrokes and how he used his hands to move around the paint. I find Rembrandt enlightening for his textures and paint application. Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer for their fragility of the medium they used. Those who influence my work go beyond those who create Art. If I meet a person who I have a good conversation with (a really great conversation is hard to find) then I leave that interaction an enlightened person.

NA: Do you have any shows coming up?

TS: As of right now I have been holed up in my apartment/studio wondering if Amelia Earhart will ever be found.