top of page

Tracy Cirves: Lavender Longings

July 15 - September 10, 2011

Opening reception: Gallery Night, July 29, 6-9pm.

Portrait Society is pleased to present paintings by Tracy Cirves during the summer months of 2011.

Ms. Cirves earned her undergraduate degree in painting from UW-Madison in 2008 and completed her MFA at Yale in 2010. She has recently moved back to the Madison area.

Primarily large scale, Ms. Cirves’ work deals with issues of womanhood, isolation, contemporary fashion and the more self-reflective ideas of how the act of painting navigates between the shores of truth and fiction, between true emotion and performative affect. The artist’s most recent body of work places women in interior settings and is influenced by “The Yellow Wallpaper, ” a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman published in 1892 about a woman confined to her upstairs bedroom by her physician husband because of her “nervous depression.”

Tracy says, “I have found the interior spaces that I am depicting in my paintings as metaphorical to my own interior space, and a way to contemplate the fiction within the reality of my experience of being. “

Here is an excerpt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s preview of the exhibition:

Women in solitude, or isolation, depending on your perspective, is a time-honored theme in art history. Solitudinous gals were particularly in vogue for the Romantics, usually men. Think Frederic Leighton’s “Flaming June,” Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Beata Beatrix” or John Everett Millais’ “Ophelia.”

Tracy Cirves is neither a romantic nor a 19th-century male, but she does explore a similar melancholic territory in her portraits. Though she brings her intellect to bear in these paintings, her work is more than feminist critique. They appear to be that rare thing: unabashedly sincere explorations of self.

Of late, her large, color-saturated works have been inspired by “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s late-19th-century story of psychological and physical isolation, womanhood, interior spaces and the act of painting. “I see these women as fictional portraits of myself,” the Madison-based artist says.

In addition to work by Tracy Cirves, a third room of the gallery (The Lounge) will present an installation in tribute to the imprisoned contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was released in June. Running in conjunction with the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Summer of China exhibitions, the project was inspired by the international discussion (launched by Mary Louise Schumacher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) regarding how Milwaukee should address this human rights crisis at the same time that it is celebrating China’s cultural heritage. Portrait Society’s project is a collaborative undertaking that will focus on portraits of Ai Weiwei by Stephen Somers. It represents an effort to keep the issues of his art and detainment visually present through the summer months.

bottom of page