By: Karly Van Puymbroeck
Perhaps one of most organic ways to foster human connections and social change is through the vehicle of art.
At least that is what Roxane Tracey, artist, poet and owner of Poetic Art, her Toronto studio, suggested Saturday afternoon during the bustling atmosphere of Windsor’s annual Art in the Park.
Tracey is an artist who blends two artistic mediums of communication – acrylic paint and poetry – to translate powerful messages that are not conveyed often enough to girls and women in our contemporary society.
“So much emphasis is placed on the physicality of women…I think when we are girls, we are faced with the separation of our body from our spirit, and as we enter into womanhood, we run the risk of completely losing our spirit.”
An artist for much of her life, Tracey’s main artwork and poetry speaks to the empowerment that can be found when women begin to fuse their bodies with inner spirituality.
Tracey’s work paints a different picture about women than the ones plastered on billboards and magazine ads – her art tells a story about the inherent strength, independence and beauty that exists in all women.
Her paintings and poetry place specific emphasis on the power and strength that can be found when a woman becomes in-tune with her inward self, rather than when women focus solely on physical appearance.
“I very much feel that we are spiritual beings first, and that our bodies themselves are essentially the vessels for our spirits and souls. I try my best to speak to that and try to put spirituality first and foremost before other surface-like qualities,” Tracey tells me as she writes up a receipt for a customer.
As we talk, customers float in and admire her work. A couple women are visibly moved to tears after reading the messages on her paintings.
“I like her art because it’s relatable and personal, while at the same time reflecting what it truly means to be a woman,” said Shelby Marchand, an avid fan.
When asked about her audience, Tracey says her art acts as a testament of her desire to touch and empower women from all walks of life.
“I want the universality of womanhood to be able to speak through the paintings, directly to any woman in my audience.”
Her paintings show different women, surrounded by a myriad of colours, celebrating the unique experience of womanhood, from sisterhood and independence, to courage and determination.
“I think because women face so many barriers in their life, especially during the process of evolving through girlhood into womanhood, I’ve always felt that there needs to be some kind of positive social reinforcement out there,” Tracey said.
Tracey also spoke to the challenge of incorporating feminism into careers, relationships and every day life.
“Feminism has this contradicting definition and reputation in our culture. It gets to be hard to incorporate the strength people garner from feminist thought and womanhood into their everyday selves. I think depending on how it’s put forward, women and men are capable of interacting with their own feminist ideas and outside society. I think it’s all in the context and the approach.”
Tracey is also involved in various community events and organizations in Toronto, such as working with youth and in women’s shelters.
“Having art as a vehicle for social change is a really organic way to take part in our society around us,” she said.
Tracey’s work is perhaps a great example of how people can bring about change just by sending out positive, alternative messages in a creative way.
“The depth of her work reaches out and envelops the onlooker, almost as if the women in the paintings are inside of me. It mirrors the female experience so perfectly and makes me want to pass on the messages in her paintings,” said Sally Clements, a customer who bought three pieces of art.
“They’re not for me,” Clements laughs, “They are for my friends and family.”
As Tracey smiles and thanks her customers, an age-old cliché floats through my mind: it is clear her art is a representation of how becoming in-tune with the inner parts of our being can ultimately change our outer worlds.
Tracey’s work can be viewed at www.poeticart.com. All images printed with permission of artist.