Tracy Carefoot

Article written for The Low Down
June 4, 2014

Tracy Carefoot, The Lesson of the Flowers

Chelsea artist Tracy Carefoot has come home to the garden, a wild garden of delicate, hidden layers of growth. As a new season of life springs forth in all its freshness, she is celebrating with an enchanting exhibition of her sewn and sculpted wildflowers at Galerie La Fab, from June 12 to July 6th.

The journey to this whimsical Alice in Wonderland world has taken Tracy from her childhood beginnings steeped in the vibrant colours of the Caribbean, Central and South America and Mexico, through her Fine Art training (BA and Masters) at Washington State University, to finally moving home to Chelsea in her late twenties to marry, raise her family and launch her graphic design business, Tracy Carefoot Visual.

Twenty years later, with the creation of a home studio space, the elements of her Fine Art background, design experience and illustration skills finally came together. In the company of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe and Diego Rivera, to name a few of her influences, she began to play.

Taking long walks in nature and watching the seasons change, Tracy was inspired by the natural world around her. Instinctively she turned to her garden where she discovered “an Emily Dickinson-like tiny world that people usually run over with their lawn mowers.” The wildflowers had come into view.

“In every art project there is a ‘what if’ moment. For me it was noticing the Bleeding Heart blooming in my garden, each tiny heart dangling from the plant at a different stage of development. In a flash I saw a huge three-dimensional flower I just had to create.”

Motivation grew with the making of each flower. As she studied them more and more closely, photographing and dissecting them before recreating them, she discovered how fascinating and complex they are. Stamens and pistils, petals, sepals, leaves, she can almost feel their botanic physicality in her own body as she works.

Art like life is about infinite patience, a slow blossoming of delicate beauty. To be willing to wait and then seize the brief moment when a wildflower emerges: Columbine, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Dutchman’s Breeches, Siberian Scilla, Red Trillium, Dogtooth Violet, Bittersweet Nightshade, Gill-over-the-Ground – knowing that each flower may take over three months to create; to see each shape in its unique intricacy and to honour it through the shaping, supporting, stitching and painting – this has been the constant challenge for Tracy, and the delight.

Mirror images of the fleeting seasons of a life, wildflowers are ephemeral. Tracy observes, “I am saying – ‘Come. Look. Did you see it? It bloomed and died a moment ago’. I see my work as an act of translation – capturing the flowers in fabric that could potentially last forever.”

For Tracy the lesson of the flowers has been a lifetime in the making. From the exotic cultural richness of her childhood, it is as if the flowers have come to express the many layers of her own life – the influences, colours and patterns of growing up overseas, her family roots in Canada, and her twenty-five years living in the Gatineau – buried deep in her heart and rising to the surface in an explosion of Life.

Come and walk among the flowers at La Fab. Arching and curving off the walls, they offer a joyful celebration of the magic and fecundity of Nature.

Tracy Carefoot Speckled Violet Mixed Media, Acrylic on Canvas

Tracy Carefoot
Speckled Violet
Mixed Media, Acrylic on Canvas