Tracy McMenemy

Whirl, 2021

archival pigment on paper, edition of 10

40 × 30 in

 30 x


 76.2 x



plus shipping & taxes

About the work

Brilliant yellows punctuated by vivid greens and touches of blue twist into pure abstractions that retain some reference to the nature photographs from which this work is made via digital manipulation.  In this work, Whirl, Vancouver-based artist Tracy McMenemy bridges her studio practice with elements of field work as an inquiry into our relationship with nature and technology. Despite being produced digitally, McMenemy’s process incorporates her painting and drawing sensibilities expressed through the movement of her whole body.  This photograph is a part of the series Folded Earth.

Folded Earth Series

In the Folded Earth series, images of natural forms are pulled digitally via an Apple Pencil into simple shapes, as though they were colours applied by gestural brushstroke. While the aesthetic relies initially on technology, McMenemy’s process incorporates her painting and drawing sensibilities expressed through the movement of her whole body. Unlike paper or canvas that is rough with surface fibres, the weight of frictionless contact between the metal pencil and the glass surface of the iPad ensures high fidelity to each nuance of the artist’s organic movement. There is a parallel to the history of film here; initially received as a mechanical and cold alternative to the live warmth of theatre, film began to reveal a greater intimacy of performance, as there was nowhere to hide from the sensitivity of lens and celluloid. Similarly, McMenemy’s use of digital platforms brings her closer to, not farther from, the truthfulness of response that characterizes her long established handling of more traditional materials.

Folded Earth bridges McMenemy’s studio practice with the element of field work central to her oeuvre. The use of a specific application on an iPad frees McMemeny to respond artistically to the photographs with which she documents her natural surroundings, without leaving them. Here is a key to McMemeny’s deeper interrogation between organic nature and manufactured technology. While reliance on digital media of this current process facilitates a more immediate response to remote surroundings, we are still seeing the real and the unreal in these works. The photographic source material responds directly to nature. It is then morphed into natural forms through spontaneous physical gesture, but not without the specific digital platform that facilitates this process. Furthermore, these square images will take their place among the many images we receive through media, both online and in physical urban spaces.

Is a tree from a source photograph still a tree after details from that photograph have been transformed, and placed in a new compositional space? Is there an agenda behind this as there is behind so many visuals we receive each day? As technology continues to evolve, and replace human tasking, what are the fundamentally human activities that it can not replace, and that must guide it?

While Folded Earth prompts such complex questions, the series answers with simplicity. Each piece is an invitation to behold a unique moment, which is a central part of what the artist herself is doing with these works.

Medium Photography
Signature Signed
Frame Unframed
Condition Excellent
Seller Artist
Location Victoria, Canada
Provenance The Artist

Tracy McMenemy


Tracy McMenemy is a contemporary multi-disciplinary artist who merges painting, photography, installation, and sculpture. Her works explore the intersection of art, nature, and the human experience in order to create pieces that inspire wonder and encourage viewers to engage with the world in new and meaningful ways. Visual story-telling is a key aspect of her work, as McMenemy describes: “I find it grounds the art,” she explains. “It starts to connect everybody in the community. When you have some kind of historical story, people can dial in. And then it becomes more than just the art.” Often, her work incorporates archival research through a process of revealing and retelling historical and cultural narratives.

Through the use of non-traditional materials, McMenemy’s work elicits an ongoing conversation between media that pushes meaning in innovative ways. Her early merging of media and materials focused on photography and painting. As the artist states: “Photographs absorb, while paintings produce. My photographs absorb the detail, while my paintings produce an abstraction. By pushing these realities together within the same frame, I attempt to create a powerful tension between the two.”

McMenemy’s work with museums and archives is increasingly central to her paths of inquiry as they inspire innovation and experimentation. For instance, the 2019 solo exhibition The Girls Are Coming! included a stunning breadth of materials across twenty works made from maritime tools and materials. Incorporating sculptural objects, film, and paintings made through smoke from candles directed onto the canvas, this exhibition highlighted the diverse materials and techniques of McMenemy’s oeuvre.

McMenemy earned a degree in Film Studies from Queen’s University (1992) and she is also an accomplished educator. In addition, her work has been featured in several publications, including Artforum, Art in America, and The New York Times. McMenemy’s solo exhibitions include: Fortune Gallery, Victoria BC (2023), Contact Photography Festival and United Contemporary, Toronto ON (2021), the Vancouver Maritime Museum, South Main Gallery, Vancouver, BC (2019), Blueshore Financial, North Vancouver, BC (2016), Tartooful Gallery, North Vancouver, BC (2013). Selected group exhibitions include: the Canadian Pavilion at World Expo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2021-2022), Cayman Art Week, IDG, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (2021), Spaces, Places and Traces: Culture Crawl Preview Exhibit, Vancouver, BC (2018), the Kay Meek Centre, West Vancouver, BC (2012) and The Space In Between, Atta Glanz Productions and Emmanuelle Renard, Vancouver, BC 2011).

McMenemy currently lives and works in Victoria, British Columbia.


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