An internationally recognized street painter, muralist and published author, Tracy Lee Stum specializes in interactive 3D street paintings (also called anamorphic or 3d chalk art), murals, and most recently, has founded TiLT: A Tracy Lee Stum Museum. Her goal has always been to transform, captivate and inspire with her creations.
1. When did you decide and what prompted you to become an artist? Please give a brief account of your challenges and struggles in your journey as an artist. Any role models?
TLS: I was born into this world as an artist. My earliest memories centered on doodling and drawing, just from about the time I could clutch a crayon. It was my first true fascination as a child.
My biggest challenges began after art school, when I lost my ‘voice’ artistically. I spent a good decade looking for a more authentic source of inspiration. That came when I discovered street painting and from then on inspiration kept hitting me like electrical shock waves. I was able to explore a new approach to art making, which really excited me. The role models were my peers and street artists.
2. What art project(s) are you working on currently? What is your inspiration or motivation for this?
TLS: This past year I pivoted somewhat in my career trajectory and am now developing 3D street painting museums called TiLT: A Tracy Lee Stum Museum. I opened the first one in New Jersey this last April and will be opening another in Mexico in late 2021. The inspiration for this has been with me since 2009 – this has been a decade-long dream that is finally coming to fruition. The museum showcases a variety of 3D installations centered on anamorphic projection, designed to invite the viewer into the artwork to experience the magic of illusion. We hope to expand to some more locations and have them up and running them in the coming year.
TiLT A Tracy Lee Stum Museum
Zoo Chalk Stars
3. Contemporary art has become very diverse and multidisciplinary in the last few decades. Do you welcome this trend? Is this trend part of your art practice?
TLS: Yes it has! This is expected with the creative new ways that technology has been playing a role in art making. The big trend outside of the gallery world now is experiential art - art you can immerse yourself in. With the advent of projection mapping, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and new digital technologies we are seeing a boom in innovative applications. 3D street painting has been doing this for years, but now others see the value in it and are foraying into the spaces with interesting new concepts. It seems to me that we, as a society, want to live with art now more than ever. Even museums are feeling the pressure to adapt to the interest in technology and the changing tastes within the art world.
Personally, I embrace this forward movement. I find it fascinating and exciting to imagine the potential of new media in the future. I have dabbled in some of this with the use of AR in the last decade but I still am very traditional in my own art practice. I like using my hands!
4. Does art have a social purpose or is it more about self-expression?
TLS: It’s both of these things and more. Art can be about anything. During my art school training at the Tyler School of Art, a contemporary art program, we were encouraged to explore a wide variety of approaches, methods, practices, etc. Artists are communicating their experiences on this planet – be they through the social lens, through nature, through decay or beauty, through thought, through imagination, through circumstances. It is their unique view of what they feel compelled to explore and discover. So, while it is about self-expression or self-reflection, it can also be about many other ideas as well.
5. Where do you create your art (workplace / studio)? What is your process?
TLS: I create my work in the public space, on the street or on the sidewalk. I mostly used chalk pastels in the past but I now use paint on canvas, vinyl or directly onto the pavement. My studio is my computer these days, and I use my iPad for drawing. Pandemic changed a lot in the way we work and I too had to adapt, hence the reliance on my digital devices. My studio is wherever I am!
6. To what extent will the world of art change in the post-Covid period – both in terms of what is created as also the business of art?
TLS: As I mentioned above, digital and immersive art are making headways in the general art space. As we go further ahead, perhaps we’ll see changes happening in galleries and museums as more and more public spaces become art-centric. So many people took up art as a creative and stabilizing practice during the pandemic that we’re seeing a boom in creative expression across the board. I imagine that in the future we’ll all be living with our own immersive art experiences, whatever they may be, through emerging technology, as a way to incorporate new art media into our daily lives.
7. Tell us about any other interest you may have besides your art practice. Does it get reflected
in your art?
TLS: My other interests are or have been: travelling to foreign countries, nature, reading, metaphysics, Vastu Shastra, motorcycling and food. Usually, these don’t make it into my work but sometimes they do.
(All images are courtesy of the artist, Tracy Lee Stum.)
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