Name : Tracy Guiteau
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Bio: Born in New York to traditional Haitian parents, Tracy Guiteau says her decision to pursue art was often met with criticism. “My parents wanted me to be a nurse, and coming out of high school I received a full scholarship for nursing school,” Guiteau says. While trying to pursue the aspirations her family had for her, all she could think about was art. The cathartic nature of art allowed her to fully express herself. Art continues to keep Guiteau focused, grounded, and at peace in her life. In short, she says, “I feel like God is art to me.” After deciding to forego a career in nursing, she headed to Providence, Rhode Island to attend the renowned Rhode Island School of Design, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design in 2007. During her training at RISD, she traveled internationally to learn and broaden her artistic experience at the University of Westminster in London.
Guiteau began making art in third grade and enrolled in the magnet art program, eventually graduating from New World School of the Arts High School in Miami, FL. As a young child, expressing emotion was viewed as weakness, and privacy was nonexistent. Art become her outlet where words failed. Each brush stroke exposed an unseen part from within; each piece of artwork became an entry in a visual diary. As she grew from adolescence into adulthood, so too has her artwork evolved. Guiteau aims to keep her paintings rich with color, with hints of complexity through the use of detailed lines. Often, words and phrases are hidden in the painting, expressing themes that inspire the individual piece, and in a way, is a continuation of her hesitancy as a child to openly express herself through written word. Guiteau believes that at its core, art is something that cannot be taken for granted, with its ability to convey emotion where words often fail from the artist to the viewer showing how interconnected human beings are.
Describe your experience as a current artist.
Saying that I’m a part-time artist is still so hurtful to me. Lol. I’ve been in the Magnet Art Program since 3rd grade and continued on through High school at New World School of the Arts. Then attended Rhode Island School of Design on a full scholarship. It all started when words seem to fail me I went to my paintings. As the oldest in my family showing any sign of vulnerability was a sign of weakness… So I cried, screamed, shared secrets, prayed … through my art. It’s my life’s journal of who I am.
What was your occupation/education prior to becoming an artist?
Well the only job I had before the age of 5 was to annoy my parents. I remember my great Aunt teaching me to draw tea cups around the age of 5. Since then Art was glued to me. I was only making pieces for my eyes until a friend actually saw my work in my apartment and ask why I’m not interested in showcasing in Galleries. But because each piece was so personally to me I was afraid that people would actually 'see me' and know all of my thoughts. It was like handing my own dairy over to a stranger! But then I realize I won’t be able to help others if I just kept my story to myself and also build my career. I was told that it wasn’t considered the “safe career” but still something in me told me not to give up. I’ve tried the whole quit your job thing to pursue your dreams… But I realize that it doesn't work for everybody. The way I’m wired lol I need to see steady income and plus the art life isn’t cheap. So I’m currently in marketing fulltime to help support my art career.
What was your biggest challenge in pursuing art and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge Is still having the energy to do art and the marketing side of my artwork after the job. Sometimes motivation will not be there to carry you through. So that’s when discipline comes through and I’m constantly reminding myself on my why.
Describe your biggest milestone or project/series achieved since pursuing your art.
I’ve had two milestones actually. One was being the first Haitian female artist to have a solo show at the Adrienne Arsht Center and showcasing my work at the Haitian Heritage Museum twice. I’m very much grateful for these accomplishments because I’ve worked so hard. My next goal for 2019 is to curate an art exhibit that will be very close to my heart. Details coming soon.
What is one thing that makes your art unique?
Each piece has hidden words in the painting that either relates to what the piece is about or completely contradicts it. It all started when I would journal on the bare canvas and then paint over it as a way of letting go. So now I’ve allowed some words to be visible to the viewer. My pieces are also inspired by Klimt Gustav and Vincent Van Gough. So, you’ll see hints of their techniques in my pieces too.
What is your favorite art technique and why?
My favorite art technique is actually modeling, carving and constructing in clay. There’s something about actually feeling the medium in your hands and creating something 3-dimensional. I sometimes feel like a big ole kid again and just zoned out. Especially when it comes to finally stages of mixing the glazes. It’s exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time because you don't know what to expect.
How do you maintain your mental health and inspiration?
I once heard that the most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire by Ferdinand Fauche. But the human soul can’t be on fire without a dream/vision/purpose. In order to fan the flames of my excitement and motivation I tend to listen to inspirational videos from time to time as I do my work. To name a few I love listening to T.D Jakes, Joel Osteen, Super Soul Sessions, Marie Forleo, etc… or even stepping out of the house at times with other creative minds.
What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP interested in furthering their art goals and/or owning her own business?
I've learn to be patient with yourself and have the courage to show up every day until you win. Winning in regards to living your dreams and targeting goals. Your narrative is your own. Ignore everybody else’s rules for you and be unapologetic you. Also never forget that you are worthy.
What is next for you?
I'm actually working on an exhibition for 2019 that will be close to my heart. Details coming soon. Another goal I'm working on is creating content for my YouTube Channel.
What does being a "black girl who paints" means to you?
I’m an example of a black girl raised in Opa-Locka, FL. My walks from school were mostly scenes of drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes and empty beer cans on the floor. Constantly getting into fights and was hard for me showed signs of what was considered weakness. In all that I found art to be therapy, my answers, and my mental getaway. A black girl who painted to help her evolve into the woman she is now.