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Tracy Harris

Peju Art Exhibit - Tracy Harris

Peju Art Exhibit - Tracy Harris

Tracy Harris 

In her paintings, Tracey Sylvester Harris presents a dazzling aqueous vision of California that merges the past with the present.


Harris began working with photographic source material as inspiration for her art in 2008. Anonymous snapshots found at flea markets, yard sales, and on the internet provide the diving board for her transformation of black and white memories into dazzling light and color. Her first one-person exhibition inspired by these found images was Lost Holiday at the Campton Gallery in New York in 2009. Following that, she experimented with imagery of women that was derived predominantly from films made in the forties and fifties. Those works depicted women mostly as torsos, or cropped stills. Harris titled that series, Noir, after the film genre. Suspended in time, they have been captured smoking, waking, sleeping, and sitting in contemplation.  With the context of their actions removed, the women become mysterious.   Dressed in swimsuits or lingerie, they are alluring not for their bodies, but the secrets they hold.

Harris states, “The exciting challenge is to keep the paintings relevant and current even though the subjects come from another era. To avoid sentimentality, I keep the compositions bold and cropped, the
paintwork loose, drippy and rough, even pushing some areas into abstraction…”.

The paintings are colorful but bittersweet in their depictions of fleeting moments of summer captured almost a lifetime ago. The leisure time of the past in these paintings is an elegant era - one of stylish red swimsuits, flowered white caps, and scarlet lipstick. Looking closely at the paintings however, reveals Harris’s true theme.

In one painting, a woman in a red suit and white cap contemplates the ripples encircling her.   Like all of Harris’s female swimmers, the woman betrays no sense of vulnerability.  She is a master of moving through the metaphorical waters of life.

Harris dates her fascination with the subject of water, to childhood in Las Vegas where most of her summers were spent at the pool or on vacation to a lake or beach. If she wasn’t in the water, she was sitting close to it, watching swimmers, color, splashes, and patterns. She began drawing what she saw at an early age, choosing as one of her first subjects her own feet in the pool, distorted by the movement of rippling water

Raised by two professional artists--her father was a commercial graphic artist and her mother was a popular impressionistic painter- Harris’s art career began at an early age. Harris’s parents moved to California when she was a teenager and opened an art gallery featuring her mother’s work. Far from being an “easy in," Harris worked hard to create an artistic identity separate from her parents’
and to hone the quality of her paintings to earn an invitation to exhibit in the family gallery. Since that time Harris has been represented by galleries nationwide, exhibiting in group shows from San Francisco to New York City. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held in New York, Santa Monica, Carmel and her hometown of San Luis Obispo.
The work of Tracey Sylvester Harris took an exciting twist earlier this year when her paintings were chosen to star in a film about the relationship between an artist, played by Ed Harris, and a widow, played by Annette Benning. Over thirty of Tracey’s paintings appear in the movie as artworks created by the character played by Ed Harris.  Look of Love is scheduled for release in 2013.



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