Stacey Pritchard: The artist who won't be put in a box
By Margaret Goddard
This studio interview is part of the "Studio Spotlights" series. These profiles were born out of curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes at our artist members' studios. We look at the tools they're using, the objects they keep around for inspiration, and their current projects.
Stacey Pritchard is an artist who doesn’t identify with just one medium. She takes the issues she cares about at that moment and explores them, using whatever medium suits the message best. We visited her studio in Highlands for earl grey tea and an honest discussion about what she’s making right now.
“I feel a responsibility right now as an artist to speak about and to have a deeper conversation about something.” Stacey has been exploring the juxtaposition of a child playing and a child holding a gun, but somehow, she finds it difficult to draw a child with a gun. So she mostly ends up painting children playing, and people have loved them just for that reason. You'd think being misunderstood would frustrate an artist, but not Stacey.
She picks cheery color palettes for the same reason that she paints pretty people: to lure the viewer in. If you look at the colors and the playfulness and only find joy, she's fine with that. But if you look a little deeper you might see something else.
Why do you make art?
Because I am an artist and I have to.
What do you wear to the studio?
Usually whatever I put on when I wake up. And one of two aprons.
How does your medium influence the art you make?
In so many ways. I am not a one medium artist and don’t want to be. When I am painting, making jewelry, sculpting, making molds, drawing… all of them are different and within them they can be different.
What three words would you use to describe this studio?
What’s one thing you wish you had known when you started?
How to access instructors at an earlier age.
Where do you find or look for inspiration?
All over the place: nature, my own life, those of friends, and world events and news.
Do you work in silence or with music or the radio on?
Typically with the radio. I listen to local NPR in the morning for weather and general news and wait for the BBC at 9. After that if there is something interesting in the news I will listen, or move to music: classic rock, rock, punk, jazz, an eclectic mix of stuff. Right now Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen are big in my playlist.
Who’s on your radar right now?
I just finished reading The Felt Hat: A Life Told by Joseph Beuys and finally started Ninth Street Women: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art.
What have you been obsessing over recently?
Trying to look at the causes of violence in society, from ideas of who should be punished and how, to what we continue to ignore, to the worship of the warrior, to the shift away from “might is right” ideologies. When we look at the many ways our society is based on those ideas of dominance and conquest and when we look at the damage they have left, we realize that as far as we have come, we still have a lot of structure to dismantle. We are told there is actually less war and violence than at most times in our history, but I see over 70 million displaced and the world on fire in new ways. It has led me to think about violence in so many different ways and try to understand the pain, suffering, and scarcity.
Stacey has been working on a "bullet" series that address gun violence in the U.S. She molds bullets out of clay, glazes and fires them, and plays with ways of orientating them. You can watch her move through idea after idea in real time on her Instagram, which she considers "just another medium" for developing her art.
What’s a piece you’ve made that you’ll never get rid of or sell?
I have many. I have a collaborative piece with my husband, pieces from Alice Pixley Young, Greg Cirrolo, and a few others from college (below), as well as a painting of my sister, and a sketch I did of a bridge over the Seine in Paris, opposite Notre Dame that I won’t let go.
Hanging prominently in Stacey's studio is a collaboration with poet and writer Derek Pollard. They mailed lines, clippings, and drawings back and forth for years, resulting in this 3D collage of their friendship, below.
When asked if the local artist community is open to collaboration, she replied, “Most of the time, all I have to do is ask.”
You can find Stacey Pritchard’s art on her website and through Facebook or Instagram. She’s part of Monmouth Museum's 41st Annual Juried Show, open until March 15th. You can find her jewelry at Refind in Bayhead or at the Atlantic Highlands Art Council. She is teaching a 4-week "Sketch Club" workshop at Monmouth Museum starting February 24th.