Tracy Dillon Timmins is an artist living and working in New York, NY. Her work merges two extremes. The first consists of entertainment icons propagated to us through media. The second pulls from her rural upbringing, in the woods outside of Eugene, Oregon. She experiments with many mediums including drawing, painting, sculpture, video, collage, and installation. Her work amasses various stripped down details in pursuit of unveiling the original intent of the images thereby reflecting on their significance.
What have you been involved in post NYU?
I worked for Urs Fischer right out of grad school. It was a super inspiring 3 years that got me more interested and versed in sculpture and casting. When I was offered a few classes to teach at NYU I left to make more time for my own practice while still being connected to academia.
What is the reason for the obsessiveness to render the various hair and fur textures? Can you talk about your background and upbringing in Oregon in relation to that?
I had a lot of time to myself as a kid because I grew up without siblings in the country outside of Eugene, OR. My dad is a veterinarian and did a lot of wildlife rescue, so animals were a really important part of my early years. My mother passed away when I was 5 and in her absence, I found myself surrounded by llamas, goats, parrots, cats, a dog, and various other wild beasts that would come home with my dad in these cardboard carriers with little circular breathing holes. In our house I always had to be aware that there could be a sick snake in the bathtub or a baby opossum with a broken leg lurking in the darkness of the spare room.
Since leaving Oregon, I have always lived in big cities, but I’m still really comfortable around animals and being in the woods. Perhaps, fur lingers in my psyche as a memory of my past and adversely, a reoccurring theme I’m constantly exposed to in contemporary culture.
Can you talk about your switch from drawing to more collage based works?
In my first years out of school I couldn’t be at my studio for the extended hours needed for drawing or oil painting. I worked on a lot of sketches for future larger ideas with the time I did have. Often assembling collages, cutting and reconfiguring the gestures, which re-appear over and over again in my drawings. Breaking the repetitive, unspoken, visual coding and cataloguing the fragmented parts, for study at a later time.
I was also making collages from the newspaper for a project curated by Maya Joseph-Goteiner called 365 Days of Print where artists were asked to make daily work in response to the New York Times. My focus was to compare and contrast gestures found in various sections, especially politics, fashion and sports. By cutting out and reconfiguring them, I began recognizing visual language postured for power, status and strength.
I’m interested in how, through repeated exposure and recodified visual language we have somehow diverged from associations based on reality and we’ve learned new connections to materials based on images of wealth and power. When looking at consumer-targeted photography, I am always interested in the space, which lies between the subject depicted and the often, misleading perception of that reality. All of the images I’ve been studying and making are always some sort of a study of this. In a sense, I’m trying to recover materials and gestures from commercial manipulation and propose a new conversation involving questions rather than statements.
You have recently started working with marbling, how do you explain the transition from the warm and textured nature of the first to the cold and austere surface of the marble? Also, what is marbling? What does marble symbolize to you?
Similar to fur, hair and other naturally occurring materials, I find there is an innate relationship with the surface of marble as a stone or in its’ natural state. Whether it’s the touch, sensation of the material, or even the smell, most likely an association exists. For me, marble embodies slowness, weight, and strength. I’ve been using marble in my collages and really enjoy painting the texture and naturally randomized surface patterns.
Personally, I love the feeling of lying very still on a cold marble floor, and I have always had this fantasy of a room made entirely of cold stone, just laying on the floor allowing the mind to drift. When Mike Shanahan (Strange Cessation Printing) contacted me about doing an edition, I knew I wanted to make a fabric print into a marbled pillow and already had the two images in mind. Each pillow is a unique edition as each alternate side is hand marbled by me. They are released through a collaborative project I am working on calledEmporium Objectum.
Do you find the process of drawing meditative or more isolating? How do you feel about it in relation to some of your more interactive and collaborative mediums like jewelry, casting, and sculpture?
For me the drawing process is both meditative and isolating, I find it super important to find the perfect balance. Drawing becomes a process of muscle memory, as eyes, hands, and thoughts connect. I find my thoughts wandering and the chattering distractions of day today life calm themselves. I could draw for days and not come out of my studio. But, when I do come out I realized I miss the outside world and that is the place where I find most of my inspiration based on music, conversations with friends, and teaching.
Who, if anyone, would you wish to collaborate with in the future?
Right now I’m in the midst of various collaborations outside of my painting studio that I’m super excited about.
It’s been great to work on casting and sculpture with my friend Serena Chang. When I can’t do a lot of the casting/plaster/cement work in my own painting studio, she’s kind enough to invite me to her in her sculpture studio, which is super fun and we can talk about ideas we have for ridiculous and awesome objects both functioning and not.
I constantly share ideas with Bryce (my boyfriend) and he is a huge inspiration for me. I find he perfectly grasps a balanced combination of both thoughtfulness and fearlessness, in terms of art making. Recently Bryce and I have had the great pleasure to visit Risa Nishimori in her incredible ceramic studio. Risa had invited us to paint on some of her incredible vessel forms and I’m really excited to see what comes from it.
My good friend Josh Sachs makes awesome collage work and really great zines, it’s super fun to work with him and we plan to put another book out soon.
Also, I’ve been really excited to work on some videos for 2 bands my friend Nicole Lawrence plays in IYEZ and Aircrafting. They are mostly collaged imagery and gesture. I’m having a lot of fun working on them, I’m super inspired by the music and the conversations I’ve been having with Nicole about music and life in general.
Can you tell us about your photography work like the blown out wool and the reflection in the TV screens?
These works are about reflected surfaces. I’m interested in bringing the viewer back into the room with me by hinting with a glimpse of the space reflected in a TV screen, a window or the glare of the neon lit room in the page of a book. I’d like them to be able to smell the hotel room I was staying in, watching TV all night long. It’s like a perfect psychological space for me where inside and outside become the same.
What do you have coming up?
I’m working on some curatorial projects with EmporiumObjectum.com and am excited to collaborate on some more objects / zines with friends.
I am really looking forward to a show in September at the 3A Gallery Annex, Mieko Meguro’s gallery space.
What music are you listening to right now?
Over the year there have been certain albums I will listen to on repeat, which constantly transport me mentally to that place where I can work and time doesn’t seem to pass, and distractions dissipate. I love that music can do this!
I can always listen to any album by Neurosis but mostly Times of Grace, Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone, Black Cobra’s Bestial, Noothgrush’s Live for Nothing, Bauhaus’ The Sky’s Gone Out, and The Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys. Today I’ve been listening to 3 Hurel, Nu-Sensae, Orange Juice, JJ Cale, Kaleidoscope and some Flaming Groovies...