Trace Nelson is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Victoria BC. She has exhibited her work in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and has worked as an art educator for the past 15 years, teaching at Concordia University and the Vancouver Island School of Art. While living in Montreal, she worked at the Canadian Center for Architecture.
Nelson creates visual art works through printing, painting, and collage, as well as sculptural objects, using found and recycled materials. She creates video animations and hand painted film works, framing them in viewing boxes, that are covered with reclaimed textiles, to create new meanings in the form of hybrid objects.
Florabundus, Errant Art gallery, November, 2018.
Florabundus investigates the intersection between our experience of the natural world and the way that technology inserts itself as a mediated view of our daily lives.
Rotor, FLUX media art gallery, Victoria, BC, July, 2017
“The Dreamer is transported to a place suspended in time, attempting to hold onto an elusive moment that moves, changes and colours our memory in rotating cyclical movements.” In this media based installation Trace Nelson reimagines leisure and travel through the process of veiling superimpositions, handheld turning gestural camera movements and richly coloured patterns, shaping a transitory wakeful reverie. Trace Nelson’s installations incorporate modified furniture pieces with hand fabricated artefacts, made from recycled textiles, along with video “curiosities”.
Microfauna, Xchanges Gallery, Victoria, BC, 2017
“The do-it-yourself movement has always interested me, and I like to use found materials as much as possible. This fits with my interest in recycling and also presents a possibility for accepting the accidental or the element of chance in the making of the work. I am negotiating the terrain between domestic craft and contemporary art practice, searching to understand and track the divide that Modernism promoted with its prioritization of autonomy and deskilling within the artistic avant-garde, and strive to integrate the skills of craft into a contemporary art practice. ”
For the past few years Nelson has been interested in how to invite audiences to participate in her work, incorporating playfulness in their experience. Interactive media has created the possibility of engaging the audience, and proposing an experience of the work in a physically immersive and intimate way. This exhibition incorporated interactivity into her artistic practice and to develop ways that to invite the audience to interact with the work.
Disquiet, Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George, BC, 2013
This exhibition brought together work by Carole Epp, Marcia Pitch and Trace Nelson from Saskatoon, Vancouver and Victoria respectively. All three artists create unsettling sculptures that draw, to different extents, on sensibilities around childhood playthings. Carole Epp draws from children’s collectibles and the likes of Hummel figurines but configures her child protagonists in dark and often disturbing scenarios in order to draw our attention to questions of morality. Marcia Pitch, on the other hand, creates small sculptures that are hybrids of various toy components, re-formed into monstrous off-kilter configurations. In Trace Nelson’s soft sculptural installations, bizarre figures assume an imposing, odd and slightly mischievous presence as they orchestrate activity around them. The deliciously disquieting subversion of childhood tropes through these artworks reflects a kind of widespread social anxiety. Touching on those elements that would be at home in any child’s nightmare, this exhibition revisits the demons we overcame in our past to help us negotiate whatever new nightmares we face as adults and provoke a kind of cathartic release. (George Harris, Curator, Two Rivers)
Walls of Intrigue/Cabinets of Curiosity, Open Space, Victoria, BC, 2010
“Trace Nelson’s Walls of Intrigue and Cabinets of Curiosity made the most of our shared delight in monkey business. Nelson presented an ambitious body of work that placed “monkey” imagery at the centre of her installation with scores of handcrafted monkeys as well as paintings and video with monkey characters and a robotic drawing machine. She mobilized the nostalgic affection for sock monkeys into a compelling study of DIY cultures, collecting, crafting, play theory and the tangled relationships between culture, nature and technology.” (Helen Marzolf, Executive Director, Open Space)
100 Monkeys show at Nanaimo Art Gallery, 2009.
Trace Nelson has created a humorous and curious world of sock monkeys. 100 Monkeys is an installation of monkeys, film loops, drawings, and texts describing the monkeys’ psycho-social situations and stories. The installation is both a dialogue and mock anthropological document, a visual history of the monkey colony with its interfamilial relationships. Videos were shown in a monkey hut. Monkeys are social animals like humans and 100 monkeys will reveal their world.
Electra Complex, Black Rock Gallery, Nanaimo, BC, 2005
This series of watercolour paintings used different icons to collectively form the female figure and suggest one of many feminine models, for example, the crown standing in for the head, the bra and panties for the torso and the shoes for the legs and feet. The works create an imagined space for the feminine figure without showing the body, without objectifying the female body. “As women, we are constantly defining and re-defining our image. Our bodies are the site of this formation of meaning, we may re-create ourselves many times over within our lifetimes. A woman may re-invent herself as a queen, animal, angel, devil-doll, mother, goddess or another archetype,” says Trace Nelson.
- 1978-present: Visual Artist
- 2006-2014, Vancouver Island School of Art, Victoria: Instructor, Drawing and Painting
- 1994-2000, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal: Conservation Technician
EXHIBITIONS AND SCREENINGS
- 2021, “BRAVAS”, expérimental video, Jan 21, New York Psychedelic film festival
- 2019, “BARTOS”, experimental video, Oct 21, Antimatter media art festival
- 2019, “BARTOS”, experimental video, May 18, New York Psychedelic Film Festival
- 2019, “BARTOS”, experimental video, April 27, Le MUP film fest, Montreal
- 2019: “BIG TOP”, video gallery presentation, Jan 23 – Feb 8, FLUX gallery, Victoria, BC
- 2018: “Florabundus”, video and textile installation, MAKESHIFT contemporary textiles festival, November 9-11, Errant Art Space, Victoria, BC
- 2017, July, ROTOR, FLUX media art gallery, Victoria, BC
- 2017, February, Microfauna Exhibition, Xchanges Gallery, Victoria, BC
- 2017, February, Sous Le Ciel, film screening, Victoria Film Fest, Victoria, BC
- 2016, July, Giant Heads Collective perform “Death takes a holiday” at SKAMPEDE, Victoria,BC
- 2015, November, Giant Heads Collective performance at Urbanite, AGGV, Victoria, BC
- 2015, December, Microfauna book launch, Victoria, BC
- 2014, January, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon,SK
- 2014, April, Esplanade Gallery, Medicine Hat, AB
- 2013: “Disquiet”, group show at Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George, BC
- 2013: “Projector Phollies”, group show at Martin Batchelor, Victoria, BC
- 2012: Faculty Show for Vancouver Island School of Art at the Slide Room Gallery
- 2012: “Fortune Teller” interactive work, MAGIC LAB group show at Open Space, Aug
- 2011: Faculty Show for Vancouver Island School of Art at the Slide Room Gallery
- 2011: “Vanity” interactive work, VIDEO LAB group show at Open Space, Aug 12
- 2010: “Walls of Intrigue/Cabinets of Curiosity” at Open Space, May 28 -July 3
- 2009: “100 Monkeys” exhibition at Nanaimo Art Gallery, Aug 28 – Oct 3.
- 2008: Faculty Show, Vancouver Island School of Art at Slide Room Gallery, Victoria
- 2008: 100 Monkeys painting in group show at Deluge gallery, March, Victoria
- 2008: Monkey painting, “Art Incognito” show, Vancouver Island School of Art, Sept.
- 2007: Film screening, “Monkey Town”, infinEIGHT, presented by Cinevic, August
- 2007: Installation in “edges” media art festival, MediaNet, April
- 2007: Group show at Martin Batchelor Gallery, Victoria, British Columbia
- 2006: Solo show at Black Rock Gallery, Nanaimo, British Columbia
- 2003: Group show, Arts NDG, Montreal
- 1999: Group show, Bistro Westmount, Montreal
- 1992: Solo exhibition, multi-media installation, 386 St-Catherine W., Montreal
- 1991: Group show, colour photocopy works; Boise State University, USA
- 1991: Group show, colour photocopy works; Sun valley Center for the Arts, USA
- 1991: Cult of the Nuclear Brain Dead, at Rendezvous du Cinema Quebecois, Feb
- 1990: Cult of the Nuclear Brain Dead, 5 JOURS DU CINEMA INDEPENDENT 1990: Group show, Articule Gallery,
- 1989: Recent Works, group exhibition, Concordia University Bourget Gallery.
- 1989: Screening of Body Invaders, 3 min. video, Halifax, IFVA Showcase. l989: 1989: Body Invaders, 3 min. video, IMAGES Festival of Independent Film & Video.
- 1988: Screening of Weird Women/Weird Fantasy, 7 min. and Body Invaders, at Experimental Art and Media Festival, Arnhem, Holland. l7-23 Nov.
- 1988: Screening of Body Invaders, European Median Kunst Festival, Osnabruck
- 1988: Screening of Weird Women/Weird Fantasy, Body Invaders and Cult of the Nuclear Brain Dead at the following venues:
- – Sturzbach Kino in Hamburg, West Germany. June 15th and 13th.
- – Koki H in Hannover, West Germany. June 6th
- – Kino Eiseit, in West Berlin, Germany, June 3, 4, 5
- – Kino Brotfabrik, Bonn, West Germany, May 24
- – Cinevideo, Film & Video Fest, Karlsruhe, West Germany, May 12
- – Guckloch Kino, Villingen, West Germany, May 11
- – Rendezvous Cinema, Portsmouth, England, May 5
- 1988: Screening of Body Invaders, Bay Vista Photo Gallery, Florida
- 1988: Group show, Articule, Guatemalan Solidarity Auction
- 1987: Exhibition of painting in group show Galerie Transpose
- 1987: Screening of Weird Women, Weird Fantasy, Cabaret Futura, Montreal.
- 1986: Exposition Traces. VAV Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal.
- 1986: Heaven is Hell. Installation with 16mm film, Beaver Hall, Montreal.
- 1985: The Brain Cell. Mixed media installation, Royal George Buildinq, Montreal.
- 1985: 50 Oboro. A benefit exhibition for the gallery. Espace Oboro, Montreal.
- 1984: Environment Mecanise. A solo multi-media exhibition. Galerie Skol, Montreal.
- 1979: One Woman Exhibition. Ceramic sculpture; Gambado Gallery, Vancouver.
- 1991: Master of Fine Arts, Concordia University
- 1988-90: Quebec government scholarship, Master’s program, Concordia University, Montreal.
- 1987: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Concordia University,
- 1986: Ruth Louise Vaughan Memorial Scholarship. Concordia University, Montreal.
- 1983: Travel and study of folk art & architecture in Mexico.
- 1982: O.C.A. Ceramic/Sculpture Mold-making workshop, O.C. A. Toronto.
- 1980: Diploma in costume-design. George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology, Toronto.
- 1979: Emily Carr College of Art. Major: Ceramic Sculpture, Art History.
- 1979: Univ. of BC grant to travel and study of ceramic sculpture in Mexico.
- 1976-78: Vancouver Community College, Langara. Major: Sculpture, Art History
- 1978: Westburn Ceramic Award. VCC, Langara, Vancouver.