Interview With Traci Fowler

We've fallen in love with Traci's work that lives in a space between sculpture and still-life. Three of her pieces are on display in our current exhibition.  

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
Well, I'm from Texas (born and raised) but moved to Chicago, Il to get my BFA from Columbia College. I work primarily with sculpture and installation and focus on the relationship and tension between decor and functionality, class, gender, and where those three things intersect.  I was a 2013 and 2014 resident at 8550 Ohio and my first solo exhibition, the love that let us share our name opens on Nov. 20th at C33 Gallery in Chicago.

Along with my partner, I operate an exhibition space in the kitchen of our apartment. Kitchen Space opened in April of 2014 and operates as a project space for artists to either adapt their work for the setting or create work in reaction to the site.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
Most of the inspiration for my work comes from my family and my environments (both past and current), as well as contemporary craft, horticulture and gardening, and Southern aesthetics.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I tend to rely more on intellectual tools, but a very important component of my practice is the display structures themselves, such as shelves, hooks, and funky pedestals. I also couldn't get anything done without my loving partner/studio assistant Trevor Schmutz.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them? 
My primary challenge as of late is finding a successful balance between overly conceptual thought process and formal driven decision making. I also find myself getting caught up with unnecessary polarities such as art or craft, sculpture or installation, documentation or photography etc.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
Inheritance, queerness, Texas, plants, craft and womanhood are all ideas/themes that are constantly showing up in my work.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?
There are so many artists that I'm constantly looking at/up to. Betsy Odom, Karolina Gnatowski, Laura Davis, Allison Wade, Noel Morical, Virginia Aberle, the list could go on. These are all extremely smart and talented women and I've learned so much from their work.

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
Once in a studio visit with Betsy Odom, we were talking about a sculpture I had made in which there were two notes my partner had written me buried in coffee grounds from coffee he'd brewed for me in the morning on a table. She told me it's important that this is not a table, but that it reminds us of a table. This really stuck with me and was a pivotal point in my work.