Tracey Cockrell is an interdisciplinary artist who synthesizes sculpture, experimental music, and linguistic theory. Since 1998 she has been working on multiple collaborative projects, engaging with other artists, writers, and musicians to compose with invented musical instruments. Her sound art has been featured in radio broadcasts on KBOO and KPFA through alternative programs such as ‘A Different Nature’ and ‘Discreet Music’ and heard in live performances at the 14th and 15th Annual Music for People and Thingamajigs Festivals in San Francisco, and the 2012 CoCA Annual in Seattle. In 2010, she mounted a collaborative exhibit, POEMOPHONE: a cacophonous collaboration and reading series at WorkSound in Portland, bringing national and international collaborators to compose and perform on her sculptural instruments. Most notably her sculptures and installations have exhibited at Boston Center for the Arts, Institute for Contemporary Art in Portland, Maine, Oakland Arts Council, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and WorkSound in Portland, Oregon. Reviews of her work can be found in Sculpture Magazine, ArtNewEngland, the Boston Sunday Globe, WGBH tv’s ‘Greater Boston Arts,’ and Maine Public Radio’s ‘Maine Things Considered.’ Artist residencies include Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Hewnoaks Artist Colony, Leland Iron Works as well as a Music USA Meet the Composer Grant for her experiments in sound and a Grant for travel research for study in India specific to the making of the sarangi.
She is a former Professor and Academic Dean at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Leading to her appointment as Dean in 2015, she served as Foundation Chair, Associate Academic Dean, Interim Academic Dean, and Founding Chair of the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies at the college. Prior to this, she taught at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine, where she served as Chairperson of the Sculpture Department and became deeply involved in collaborative teaching and student-centered learning. Her non-profit experience includes working as Manager of the “Crops of the World” garden and part of the Growing Learning Communities team in the Education Department of the University of California Botanical Garden, and as Program Director at Peralta Hacienda Historic Park in Oakland, California where she helped launch an outreach program responding to neighborhood input, the historical importance of the site, and research into models of community building to develop a living history program bringing together culture, history, the arts, and community.
In a way, we can describe thoughts as rhythmic pulsations, and the way that we think is to leap from one rhythmic pulsation to another to create images, ideas. To approach a concept as one would a form, from differing points of view, is a kind of sculptural thinking, a dance, if you will, which navigates from one distinct vantage point to another. Circumscribing the whole of a focal point embodies the richness of this way of thinking. Time, memory, and corporeality are inherent in the complex of sensations that belong to the sculptural experience. When we navigate through our physical environment, in what ways does our relationship to landscape influence our thinking, our language, and how we shape and express our worldview?
I am a sculptor and trained horticulturist, whose work features movement and sound. I construct sculptures using repurposed objects in direct response to the natural landscape. My relationship with the land is influenced not only by gardening and growing food but also by my time spent living in each of the five regions of the United States. Direct exposure to eco-systems in such varied locations has crystalized my thoughts on the intimacy and impact of place. Working in parks, botanical gardens, private and community gardens, as well as in my own garden I have cultivated relationships with people as well as with plants. It is while living in Maine that I became a master gardener and first began to integrate my interests in sculpture, sound, and landscape. Hiking deep into the wilderness of Baxter State Park each spring to camp and collect audio field recordings transformed my creative practice.
My current research is about the complex relationships between language and landscape, psychoacoustics and the subjectivity of place.