Traci Fowler – Chicago, Illinois

She'd complain if Jesus Christ came down and handed her a five dollar bill Frame, lavender, collected items, photograph 10" x 12" 2014

She’d complain if Jesus Christ came down and handed her a five dollar bill
Frame, lavender, collected items, photograph
10″ x 12″

Briefly describe the work you do.

I weave personal narrative with social treatises to connect impulse and awareness. My work focuses on issues of class structure, gender regulations, and the ways in which these discourses both challenge and strengthen one another. I am interested in how tropes of social consciousness can be potentially exclusive and work to eradicate these exclusions. My work is inclusionary, yet educated. I create small-scale installations, and set up visual Venn diagrams in which multiple disparate parts (be they family heirlooms, unpaid bills, or domestic artifice) maintain individuality, yet simultaneously meet in the middle.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I was born and raised in Houston, Tx. Same street, same house, same bedroom for 18 years. Now living in Chicago, I find myself drawing inspiration from my home. I often use plants, specifically cacti in my work I suppose because of a primal longing for wide open spaces. I often use family heirlooms and aesthetics of the culture/class I was born and raised within. Such as in my series the only thing the same is that it ain’t for everyone or All hat no cattle.

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Though I wouldn’t consider much of what I do and the way I work to be “traditional”, I believe my studio practice is fairly such. I like to be alone when I’m working, I like to write a lot of things down, take notes, and really focus on what I’m doing for as long as I possibly can.

Though shalt not put sugar on thy grits either Baking dish, potting soil, plant cuttings 10" x 12" x 3" 2014

Though shalt not put sugar on thy grits either
Baking dish, potting soil, plant cuttings
10″ x 12″ x 3″

What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

Facilitator. When I first started this, I didn’t really ever think I would be interested in any position that wasn’t artist, curator, gallerist, teacher, critic, but the deeper involved I become within the art world, the more interested in these positions I become. In fact, my partner and I have even opened an exhibition space within the kitchen of our home. (

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can? 

Honestly, whenever I can. Currently I’m still in school, so I have classes Tuesday-Friday. I make work on the weekends, Mondays, and in the in-between class time I find for myself sometimes.

Grounded together regardless Concrete, potting soil, plants 18"x4"x3" 2014

Grounded together regardless
Concrete, potting soil, plants

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

Oh it’s changed so much in even just a year! Five years ago I didn’t even consider myself an artist. I was just leaving high school ready to study photography. It’s amazing how much your work can change in such a short amount of time. I think I’m constantly changing directions, but my impulses have remained the same over the years.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

My family I think impacted me very indirectly. My grandmother was a painter and actress, my grandfather a guitar teacher, my father a musician/graphic designer and my mother a multidisciplinary creative. This, I supposed has all been an important part of my upbringing though I never quite realized it.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I’ve always wanted to open up a small flower shop. For no particular reason other than my love for plants and beautiful wildflowers.


BioPicTraci Fowler (b. 1991) Lives and works in Chicago, IL. She currently attends Columbia College Chicago and will receive her BFA in December 2014. Her work has previously been exhibited at A+D Gallery, Chicago Community Bank, US Africa Network: One Struggle Many Fronts Tour and DfbrL8tr. Her most recent project involved a collaboration with her mother which was featured in a group show happening simultaneously in Chicago, Il and Austin, Tx at )( gallery. She was a 2013 and 2014 resident at 8550 Ohio. In November Traci will have her first solo exhibition, the love that let us share our name, at C33 Gallery.

Along with her partner, Trevor Schmutz, Traci operates a gallery in the kitchen of their 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.

Favorite Studio Spot

Favorite Studio Spot

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.


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