Artworks by Tracie Fracasso

August 3 - September 14, 2014

In an age of digital media, Tracie Fracasso’s artworks demand to be seen in person – a flat screen cannot do them justice. Her works are multilayered, two-dimensional images carefully arranged in a three-dimensional space within a glass-fronted frame. She calls it, half-joking, “two-and-a-half D art,” or “3D collage.”

Neither term quite describes her unique artworks, which are similar to the box assemblages of Joseph Cornell and Betye Saar, except that Fracasso’s boxes incorporate drawings, oil paint and prints on cut paper as opposed to found objects. A selection of her recent creations, “Artworks by Tracie Fracasso,” went on display Aug. 3 – Sept. 14, 2014 in the Hoboken Historical Museum’s Upper Gallery.

Fracasso’s approach to creating her layered compositions traces its origins to her college days. In pursuing a BFA in Studio Art at Rutgers University and an MFA in Fine Arts at Montclair State University, she studied both painting and sculpture, and she continues to combine both in her work. A college course in photomontage inspired her interest in layered juxtapositions of images, while her love of Renaissance and church art led her to develop her painting skills under the tutelage of a professor she admired at Montclair.

Each piece can take months to complete, from working out the concept, to gathering material and research, to the execution stage, when Fracasso meticulously works and reworks the composition until she’s satisfied with the relationship among the separate elements. That’s what she finds so engrossing about her chosen medium: the dynamic tension between the elements, both spatially and stylistically, as well as the tension between her contemporary themes and classical references.

“In a formal sense, my work is about the deconstruction of the illusion of space and linear perspective,” Fracasso says. “I think if I had to stick to just painting, I’d get bored.” Like Cézanne and other modern artists, she enjoys breaking the conventional rules of linear perspective, playing with the tension between creating or denying the illusion of space.

Conceptually, her work raises questions about contemporary issues, but viewed within a historical perspective. In the work “Slaying of Isaac” (2008), she draws a connection between a modern tragedy, the shooting of the three students in Newark, and the iconic Old Testament story. In the work “Naïve: Mother I Am not Eve” (2012), which depicts a classically painted female figure strolling through a Renaissance-style garden, but surrounded by contemporary children fighting and pitching tantrums – evoking modern feminist issues. “Temptations” was inspired by the news of the Arab Spring uprisings, and shows an oil refinery in the background, while in the foreground, a man in blue jeans juggles the planets in a park-like setting next to a Christ figure.

Other works, such as the fancifully named “Long Neck on the Garden State Parkway Coming Back from LaDu’s” (2011), are inspired by her own experience, sights that are familiar to this Jersey City-born, Bayonne-raised Hoboken resident, who has spent many hours on the Garden State Parkway. Fracasso moved to Hoboken 20 years ago, where she lives and maintains an art studio. She loves Hoboken for its sense of community, where a stroll down Washington Street to enjoy its restaurants or bars always involves running into someone you know. When she’s not making art, she teaches art as an adjunct professor at Kean University. Learn more about her work at traciefracasso.com.

The exhibit was supported by a block grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.

Click here to see a virtual gallery of the exhibit.