Mike Tracy showcased as Farmville Artist of the Month
By Jake Keator
The Farmville Enterprise
Monday, November 27, 2017
FARMVILLE — Delicate, handcrafted pieces of blown glass astounded patrons as they viewed the work of Michael Tracy, Farmville Community Arts Council’s Artist of the Month at the Farmville Chamber of Commerce and Paramount Theater.
“The pieces on display are kind of a retrospective of what I’ve done over the past 11 years,” Tracy said.
Tracy’s glassworks ranged from colorful bonsai trees to detailed recreations of common cleaning tools, such as a broom and a mop. Some of the pieces on display went back to Tracy’s days as an undergraduate student at The University of Texas at Austin. Tracy entered the University of Texas as a math major, quickly switching to drawing.
“I wanted to get involved in the toy industry,” Tracy said.
Tracy took a glass blowing class as an elective and fell in love with the craft. After completing his time at the University of Texas in 2009, he attended graduate school at Illinois State University. As his date of graduation neared, Tracy began his job search.
A relative who lives in Raleigh alerted him to the creation of The GlasStation in Farmville.
“I actually just sent an email to the dean of (the College of Fine Arts and Communication at East Carolina University). I said, ‘Hey I heard about your project. It sounds fascinating. Let me know when you are putting jobs up.’ And one thing led to another,” Tracy said.
Tracy began working with East Carolina University in January, teaching beginner glass-blowing classes. He also teaches the same class at Pitt Community College and helps with continuing education classes through East Carolina University.
Working with glass is a difficult craft to master, Tracy said. Glass can create a wide variety of emotions, he said.
“It is the most exhilarating, addictive thing you can possibly do, and at the same time the most frustrating thing you can ever do. When it’s going well it’s a truly sublime experience. When it’s not going well you just hate everything and never want to do it again,” Tracy said.
Tracy’s works showcased different sides of his personality. His VeNusiTian pieces show his love for space, while his glass bonsai trees told the story of his struggles while in graduate school.
The exhibit opening started at the Farmville Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street, where Tracy’s space based pieces and bonsai trees fascinated attendees. Following a short walk to Paramount Theater, patrons viewed more glass pieces that jutted from the wall.
Former Farmville Mayor Etsil Mason was amazed with the quality of Tracy’s drawings and work.
“I think they’re miraculous. Just remarkable work,” she said.
Tracy’s ink on scratchboard drawing titled “Nature’s Kiss” was Mason’s favorite piece on display.
Farmville resident Harry Albritton was also impressed with Tracy’s glasswork.
“It’s amazing. The detail he can get; not only in the glass, but in the drawings,” Albritton said.
Albritton’s favorite piece was titled “Weapon of Choice” and featured detailed glass renderings of a broom and a mop.
“I can appreciate the detail in every aspect of that broom, and the colors he incorporated with the black (handle of the broom). It’s eye catching,” Albritton said.
There are two types of styles for working with glass, Tracy explained. Lampworking uses an oxygen and propane torch mounted to a desk. Artists can also use a “hot shop,” such as The GlasStation.
Tracy explained a metaphor he heard from a lampworker comparing the two styles of glass work.
“He equated ‘hot shop’ workers to dancers. They have their routine. They have to learn the movements and there’s a choreography. Lampworking is more akin to a musician playing their instrument. They just sit there and play, but they are the masters of their instrument,” Tracy said.
Tracy’s exhibit runs through Nov. 30. The Farmville Community Arts Council gallery is open from 1-4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Paramount Theater, 3723 N. Main St., Farmville. To learn more about Tracy and his work, visit michaeltracy.net.