Have a seat right there. Gotcha a warm cuppa? Are you comfy? Okay! Well, goodness where do I start?
I’m a self-taught artist living in the Flatlands of NW Ohio formerly known as The Great Black Swamp. Gourds happened in 2004 and I was hooked. My gourd was gobsmacked by a gourd named Gourd Woman. True story. Prior to Gourd Woman, I hadn’t a clue what a gourd was. My friend & I were sharing a booth in a parking lot flea market. She brought Gourd Woman to sell. I was taking copious amounts of pictures & at the end of the day, she gifted her to me. I swear she (Gourd Woman) was saying, “You could make Gourdesses!”. Gourd Woman was a breath of new paths & creativity. I had to find out more.
Along the way to now, I’ve made bowls, vases, little lamps, a teapot & cup, various Gourdesses & finally landed on gourd dolls & sculptures. Art is my escape from this crazy and chaotic world. However, escapism doesn’t change anything. Making art, standing up for the world you’d like to see, and daring to inhabit your skin in all its marvelous complexity is a form of rebellion. And, I, my friends can be a bit on the rebellious side. My inspiration comes from nature, Drag Queens, Steampunk, Japanese Lolita Fashion, people who dare and defy the norms to live life on their terms. Add an acute fascination with things wyrd, peculiar and uncommon. I work with the Triplett Muses who look like Betty White. They love to whisper in my ear, especially when I’m driving. This is distracted driving at its finest.
Why do I make doll bodies from gourds? Gourds fascinate me with their shapes and their dirty dirty skin. You don’t know what you’ll find until you dig in and clean them up. They, like humans, are never exactly alike. The juxtaposition of opposites (hard/soft, cute/ugly) in the materials used to create the dolls perfectly represents human beings. We are complex, nuanced, paradoxes living in a world created full of opposites that can’t exist without one another trying to make sense of it all.
Here’s a shortlist of fun facts:
Mild-mannered lunch lady by day (my co-workers would disagree with the mild-mannered description). My self-given title is Snack Room Sorceress
I’m the Pet Hooman of 5 felines & 2 canines.
Favorite color is purple (deep dark purple) add swash of orange & I’m swooning.
I am an unabashed fan of 80’s/90’s/2000 & up club music.
I ADORE/LOVE/AM CRAZY ADDICTED to RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Ditto the above for Boulet Brother’s Dragula.
I love mind-bendy outside of the box people.
I will have a VW minibus one day. I WILL!
I can inhale ice cream at an unholy speed without nary a brain freeze. It’s a curse and a blessing.
I can’t hold a tune or note but caterwaul with the best of them.
I enjoy music at ear blistering levels.
I love shoes that are wearable works of art. I can’t wear them but I love them!
I love teenagers. Really. Really.
I’m in touch with my inner teenager way too much.
I’ve been grounded to my room by my kids for being too hooeyish.
And finally, this Haiku. It sums up how I try to look at the world.
The Door Knob
I grasp the cold brass.
What lies behind the doorway?
Magic or mundane?
©Tracy Swartz January 16, 2010