Q&A with artist Tracey Snelling

Interview by Jen Lassen
Arts & Life Editor

Q: Can you describe your exhibit that is currently being featured in our Downtown Gallery? What was your inspiration behind creating this exhibit?

A: “The exhibit there is called ‘Another Day in Paradise’ and it’s a collection of some older work I have and some newer pieces. A lot of my work revolves around Americana in everyday life. This group of work looks at any place in the United States–the edge of town, strip malls, a supposedly quiet neighborhood–that ends up being houses from horror films. It’s a combination of those put together that gives an overview of American life. All of my work is inspired by landscape, by culture, sometimes by films and also by my travels.”

Q: How long have you been a professional artist? What motivated you to pursue becoming an artist?

A: “I graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1996. I had wanted to be an artist for a long time; at first I had thought it would be photography, but then I started doing sculpture and video. It’s just something that I love, and so I kept after it. You know, You do it because you love it; otherwise, it’s so much time and effort. It just is something that I would do regardless. My father painted when he was younger. He’d either done woodworking or something with his hands his whole life. So I think that influenced me, and when I was young my parents saw that I really enjoyed art. I liked drawing and painting, so they encouraged me.”

Q: Your other exhibits and works have been/are currently being featured all across the nation and globe. Has showcasing your exhibits in various places, and traveling in general, had any influence on your work?

A: “I’ve done quite a bit of traveling, and whenever I travel, while I’m there I’ll take photographs and video and just explore the area. Then, that will probably end up in a future piece. I did two residencies in China and made work while there; I traveled around and made work of what I saw, and that was pretty amazing.”

Q: What other projects are you currently working on?

A: “My film, ‘Nothing,’ premieres at the San Francisco International Film Festival in about a week, so I’m really excited about that. My instillation ‘Women on the Run’ is travelling right now, and that’s an instillation that I keep adding onto and innovating so it’s fresh and interesting. That will eventually travel to the West Coast. Another project that I’m working on is a group of sculptures for show at a museum in Oslo, Norway. They are based around Latin authors. Each sculpture is based on a story or novel.”

Q: What called you to Lewisburg to showcase your exhibit in our Downtown Gallery?

A: “I was picked for it. I was contacted by Richard Rinehart and he saw my work years ago at San Francisco Cameraworks. I guess he liked my worked and thought of me to come here! It’s great to come here. The thing about my art career is that I end up going to places that I probably wouldn’t ever even know about.”

Q: What advice can you give to artists striving to make their work original?

A: “When I was going to the university for my undergrad, I was getting in these classes with critiques. I eventually realized that another student telling me what I should put in my work … they didn’t know any better than I did. Art is so subjective. I think it’s really important to be open to criticism from people that you respect, but if it doesn’t make sense to you, let it go; don’t hold onto it. Try to have your own vision and follow it, and don’t let other people sway you.”

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