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“Tipping Point” Opens in Mercy Gallery 

That day in the kitchen, that moment, has never left Traci Talasco.  

“I knew I was an artist when I was 7 years old,” she said shortly before the opening of her show, Tipping Point, in the Sue and Eugene Mercy Jr. Gallery on Thursday night, April 4. “I have a very vivid memory of the moment that I realized that, and I announced it to my parents. They were sitting in the kitchen, and I remember the light streaking through the curtains and the pattern on the curtains, and the whole scene.” 

Vivid also could describe her work. 

As visitors walked into the Mercy Gallery, old hardwood flooring from a Loomis Chaffee basketball court was arranged in various heights on the floor, which meant one must “Tread Carefully,” the name of that piece in Ms. Talasco’s solo exhibition. She said she had been thinking about that type of piece for a while and had developed a model in her studio in New York. When Mercy Gallery Director christian.ryan mentioned the hardwood flooring, the idea turned into reality. 

“I thought it was perfect to do this here on campus,” she said. “As a site-specific artist, I like to do work that responds to the architecture of the space or the history of the space.” 

In her artist statement, Ms. Talasco wrote, “Patterns and colors from the floor planks are jumbled, creating a disorienting space. ... ‘Tread Carefully’ has both a physical and emotional context, implying that one must watch their footing as well as their words to avoid conflict or danger.” 

Ms. Talasco’s show is being held in conjunction with an exhibition of work by students in advanced level art courses and the College-Level Art Seminar in the Barnes and Wilde galleries, which, like the Mercy Gallery, is located in the Richmond Art Center. Some pieces related to “Slavery and Loomis Chaffee: An Ethical History Project” also are on display. Everywhere one turns, there is something to see. The opening was an environment in which Ms. Talasco is quite comfortable since she is not only a working artist but an art teacher in the New York City public school system. 

“The most important thing I would tell a young artist is to really be true to yourself, to find your own voice,” Ms. Talasco said. “Don't try to make something that fits into the markets. Really just figure out what is important to you and be authentic to yourself.  ... And don’t worry about trends, don't worry about what other people are doing.” 

raci Talasco on the old Loomis basketball boards.

As visitors walked into the Mercy Gallery, old hardwood flooring from a Loomis Chaffee basketball court was arranged in various heights on the floor, which meant one must “Tread Carefully,” the name of that piece in Ms. Talasco’s solo exhibition.

Ms. Talasco earned a master's degree in visual arts education from Hunter College in 2022 and a bachelor of fine arts degree from Tyler School of Art/Temple University in 1996.  She describes herself as a social and political artist. “I really feel like the point of being an artist is to have [people] think about the world in a different way. So, all of [my pieces in this show] have to do with different political ideas or social ideas. I think in general I take familiar things ... and put them in a different light. If people walk away looking at something in a different way, that would be great.” 

Those who attended might not look at a bar of Ivory soap the same. Her piece “99.44% Pure & Other White Lies” uses bars of Ivory soap constructed into cinder blocks and stacked. “Cinder blocks,” reads her artists statement, “illustrate how these ideas have become systemic structures within our society while the metaphor of soap eroding symbolizes the washing away of these hateful and dangerous ideologies.” 

Ms. Talasco said much of her work comes from paying attention to news and politics, writing concepts in her sketchbook, and making everyday observations. She said the Ivory idea came in part from “investigating” use of the word “white.” 

“This is a piece about the harmful nature of white privilege and the systemic structures in our society,” Ms. Talasco said. The word “white” is used with positive connotations, she noted. “Lily white ... even white lies has a good spin on it. Those are good kinds of lies,” she said. “So, a lot of my ideas really come from things that I observe, a lot of writing, and material explorations.”    

On another wall in the gallery is her piece “A False Sense of Security,” which is wallpaper on wood panels with tiny toy guns virtually hidden in the display to represent the lives lost to mass shootings in schools in 2018. The piece’s first installation was in 2019. “The wallpaper patterns create a sense of familiarity and reference the comfort of home, which becomes unsettling with the addition of weapons,” her artist statement states. 

The show runs through May 7 and is open to the public. Gallery hours when school is in session are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday closed; Sunday 1–5 p.m. 

A video of the show opening is here. 

Student artwork in April 4 opening

Student artwork, above and below, filled the Barnes and Wilde galleries.

  

Student artwork in April 4 gallery  opening

 


 

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