Process Statement

Tracie Heller

Description Of The Process/Print Type

The images in both the series “Abstraction” and “Landscape” are all shot on 35mm Ilford HP5 black and white film. The “Landscape” series is printed on 16x20 fiber-based, warm-tone, silver gelatin paper. Film negatives from the “Abstraction” series are digitally scanned, corrected only for exposure, contrast, and spot-removal, then printed with an Epson 3800 as 16x20 archival inkjet prints on Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper. They are finally mounted to archival board and covered with several layers of clear wax encaustic (melted beeswax and damar resin).

“Abstraction” Artist Statement

This body of work is a reflexive act; it began as a response to moving from Lake Tahoe to New York City. The abrupt change from the Sierra Mountains to the endless concrete, from big sky to no horizon line, felt like a shift from open to closed, from freedom to confinement. This series grew out of that need for space, both visual and physical, for opening back up what closed when I moved there.

These images are photographic abstractions painted with layers of melted beeswax. While referencing landscape and the cosmos, there is usually no vantage point. The motivation driving them is to construct a new realm, one independent from the familiar. Drawing and painting language is also incorporated to create photographs often resembling charcoal drawings or ink washes. The graininess of the film and the ancient technique of wax encaustic combine to abstract and add atmosphere. Working this way I am able to use the camera to create the images from my mind, instead of documenting the real.

The reference to the cosmos in this work relates to my family history. My grandfather was a rocket scientist who worked for NASA on the Apollo program. My father is an engineer for the Air Force, who works on rockets and missiles. Growing up I often saw NASA images of space, and Air Force images of missile launches from earth. These have directly informed my work.

With this work I want to create a constant flux in perceived distance, a continual shift between expansion and compression; to create a space that can be at once infinite and limited, intimate and removed, macrocosm and microcosm. Most essentially these images are meant to be a quiet space to delve into and explore – a meditative and introspective place.