Flipping the Narrative with Tracy Piper

Tracy Piper caught our attention when she threw down astro turf and lawn chairs in her room at stARTup SF, turning her hotel room into a bold and playful exhibition that explores female/non-binary identity in the 21st century. We had to know more.

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So, we sat down with Tracy and asked a few questions:


1. Why do you make your work?

I paint portraits and figures because I want to open people’s eyes to the amazing abundance of beauty found in the human form. I like to focus on portraits that somehow flip the narrative of what is traditionally fed to us as acceptable standards of beauty. I also think representation in art is so important and it is my duty as an artist to show as much diversity in not only race, but gender as well. Obviously my work isn’t based in normal colors of skin tone etc, and I like that this sort of creates a more complex portrait - something you can approach with fresh eyes. 

2. How did you choose or land on the mediums you use now?

Truthfully, I chose acrylic because I have a little 5 pound Pomeranian at home who eats everything that falls on the floor. I thought acrylic would kill her less slowly than oil paints would. And now that I have a toddler at home as well the non-toxic aspect is really a selling point. 


3. What are you presently inspired by?

Currently I’ve been really into making these portraits of people who don’t exist in reality. I find a nose from somewhere and eyes from somewhere, etc etc… to create a new person. I like that these new people are more the representation of a person, that they could be anybody, and within these portraits I try and push a narrative of self acceptance for what society my preconceive as a flaw.

4. Other than your art practice, what other work do you do?

I am CEO of Golden Gate Dolls a high level circus performance group based in San Francisco CA. We work in some of the best clubs in the country and I get the pleasure of creating full length shows with some of the best performers around. I also make websites and am a mom. (Mom might be the hardest but best job).


5. What are your current artistic influences?

I am currently and will always be obsessed with Andrew Loomis. He was an American illustrator, art instructor and author. Seriously if you want to learn how to do anything with the figure go buy one of his books. Shout out also to @uglyworldwide (an amazing model and artist herself) because she is totally on that 'I am beautiful the way I am trip' and it’s freaking amazing.

6. What’s your least favorite color?

Oh gosh. Thats a hard one for me. Because I love color. I don’t think I could say I had one. They are all fabulous.

7. Do you have any upcoming events?

I sent work across the pond to the UK for this anti-trump art show. If this is my last show ever you know what has happened. 😳 It opened last week on July 12th to a sold out crowd! All ticket proceeds went to End Violence Against Women.


You can shop Tracy's latest portraits on Artfinder where you'll also many more works by stARTup artists.


Find her on Instagram: @thetracypiper




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Q&A by Content Curator Mica England