Draping, cutting, and joining fabric is how the women in my life connected. As a 7 year old, I learned to sew on my mother’s 1949 Singer black electric machine. In the years that followed I invented reversible jumpers, refashioned dresses, reconfigured home curtains, crocheted wool afghans, and joined and quilted fabrics from all over the world.
Cloth continuously weaves its way in and through my life. Generations of hands touch the fabric that underlie our food, decorate our walls, cover our beds, and adorn our bodies. Honoring these history-laden cloths, I upcycle discarded shirts, sheets, and curtains woven from natural protein and cellulose threads. In an effort to minimize my ecological footprint, I try to reuse and design with close to zero fabric waste. I imprint and stitch new life into these designed cloths, both new and old, using natural dye products extracted from the earth and plants. By reconfiguring these textiles, I tell a new story of connection between place, fiber, and family. Hand marked fabric- touched, worn, and loved- is art that celebrates and heals the body and spirit. These manipulations of cloth mirror the work of life-- to honor what has come before yet continuously reinvent ourself anew.
Botanical dyeing and Ecoprinting
Cellulose (cotton, linen, hemp, and bamboo) and protein (wool, silk) fabrics are prepared differently to accept botanical dye and plant colors. The hand process of dipping the fabric, placing leaves on the cloth, and tight bundling for the heated pot create imprints in variations of form and color. With heat, these plants and flowers of Northern California discharge their color and image to the fabric, often with thrilling and unexpected results. With changing seasons, time of day, and individually unique trees, these botanical print designs constantly surprise.
Raised in Connecticut, Tracy Flanagan grew up in a household of artists. Her mother, a recognized NY/CT artist, excelled in creating organic stone and metal sculpture, and mixed media wall collage. Her extensive studio was a creative space for Tracy’s experimentation in color and design as well as conversations about creative inspiration. In her travels around the world she found the heart of culture, family and place, in conversations with female artisans and their textiles. Handmade textiles used in everyday life connect place to the human experience.
Tracy received her BA in psychology from Barnard College in NYC, her MD degree at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio, and her Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency training at University of California- San Francisco (UCSF). She practiced Obstetrics and Gynecology in Bakersfield, at UCSF, and for the last 20 years with Kaiser Permanente in Richmond and Oakland. She recently retired from her women’s health medical career May 2020, to focus on textile art full time. Similar to her medical focus, she is interested in women’s relationship to cloth, and the birth and transformations of textiles.
Artistic influences include eucalyptus ecoprinter India Flint, artful ecoprint and designer Irit Dulman, stitch markers Lisa Binkley and Lorie McCown, paper ecoprinter Elisabeth Culshaw, Slow Fiber’s Yoshiko Wada, and Maiwa’s Charlotte Kwon. Admired sensibilities include Amish and Gee’s Bend quilts, and Boro and Kantha textiles.
She is a member of Marin MOCA and participates in Marin Open Studios.