Tim Tracz, retired AC professor, uses camera to create works from ’forced environments’

Shannon Orr,
The Herald Democrat
Herald Democrat

Local artist and photographer Tim Tracz moved from Philadelphia in the 80s and coming to Sherman he brought with him knowledge, art and humor.

Currently, Tracz is a retired Austin College professor of arts. For more than 30 years, Tracz taught various subjects including photography, art fundamentals, drawing, art history.

His award-winning work has been in exhibitions all over the country and remains as permanent fixtures in many. Nominated as the 2016 honored educator for the Society of Photographic Education, he has also served as guest lecturer at several institutions.

Tracz’s influences are drawn from his childhood where as a young wonderer he found a love for trees, farmland and travel has his mother promoted field trips and new experiences.

“For me, sharing experiences with others, like my mother did, is especially important in framing my interest in teaching, as well as other aspects of my life,” Tracz said.

His father, a photographer, introduced him to cameras in college at Pennsylvania State University. Tracz was taking graduate-level courses in psychology at night and working days at Devereux, a school for children with special needs, outside of Philadelphia.

Building a strong bond between them, Tracz’s father taught him how to develop film. This moment became a catalyst that changed his career trajectory from psychology into the arts.

Tracz also credits his wife, Florence, for giving him the courage to pursue his passion.

“It just felt right,” Tracz said. “Although, I couldn’t explain how it was going to be practical.”

When people asked what he would do with an art degree, Tracz knew he wanted to make and teach art.

Later moving to Sherman, Tracz began teaching at Austin College while pursuing his own passions.

The majority of his work is focused in digital media. A master at creating what he calls “forced environments,” he uses Photoshop, a variety of photographs and the occasional collaborator.

“Collaborating is a way I have of looking at the results of my artwork since before I came to Texas. Right after graduate school I moved to an area, which had a rich mix of residents’ backgrounds. This explained, for me, why I found myself confronted with front yards in which little still life seemed to have been set up for me to find and photograph- enigmatic object relationships that inspired me with a sense of wonderment. The images have the look of documents - a simple process on my part of finding and recording them – thus the creators of these sites were unwitting collaborators,” Tracz said.

Notable works contain subjects placed into an environment they don’t quite belong, often invoking a sense of wonder as one travels through his created uncanny valley. In many of his photographs, too, the viewer can also find themselves being privy to a sort of inside joke being shared by the artist.

“Humor has always been of supreme importance to me and I like to pose questions not answer them,” Tracz added

Now retired he has focused his time and efforts on a backlog of projects and ideas. An avid collector, traveler, and passionate artist- the list of ideas and explorations for Tim Tracz will only grow which means more art and more pondering for the masses.

“Even though I have been making art all along, I have plenty of ideas for new, and continued, plans for art making. They include the ancient medium of en caustic, which has intrigued me for the past couple of years, and drawing, which is a medium I enjoyed a lot as a student, but has only been pursued in irregular moments more recently. The two will most likely be combined as I also pursue more mixed media projects, which will also involve digital imaging. Exhibiting the work is another activity that has seen my efforts reduced more and more over the years. To have ones art seen is an important source of both closure, and of feedback for future efforts. There is no one mode of promotion, but many, and I intend to put more time into that.”

Herald Democrat