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Through the Looking Glass: Tracy Silva Barbosa

The South Coast is brimming with creative energy, art and culture. In our 2017 issue, we featured 7 artists who help make it so. Over this month, we’re reprinting our 2017 profiles, with some extra photographs. Today, meet Tracy Silva Barbosa who creates inspiring works which celebrate a wide variety of compelling narratives (written by Laura Pedulli and photographed by Elin Bodin). To see the story as it originally appeared in our summer 2017 issue, click here or just read on…

As a child of Portuguese immigrants, painter and glass designer Tracy Silva Barbosa first encountered art in the works of the Catholic church. “I was always drawn to the arts, but I did not have much exposure to museums,” she says. Barbosa would peek at the pictures in her mother’s Bible, or notice stained glass in church in her native Taunton.

Tracy Barbosa Silva

Autumnal Tide

Barbosa considers herself foremost a glass artist, trained at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington. But when she graduated, she no longer had the 2,000 lb. melting tank, kilns and other tools needed for glass art. “That prompted me to paint on canvas, and I was able to produce the same effect. These were sketches for glasswork, but people liked the paintings,” she says.

Her glass art contains both urban and flora elements, and is inspired by Asian landscape paintings and medieval relicology. She utilizes painterly strokes and photographic imagery in the plates of glass she layers together.Her work “Three Wishes,” features a hazy New Bedford skyline, with etched and leafed glass plates layered in, exuding an organic feeling.

Tracy Barbosa Silva

Cygnus & the Admirer

Before moving to New Bedford, she gained access to the tools she needed at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn and was involved in the New York City art scene. Now, she does commissioned work for private collections or individuals — but also works on community projects. “Ever since I was in art school, public art is a goal of mine.”

Some public works include a large 35-foot mural in the Carney Academy Public School Greenhouse, and a bus shelter installation in Providence. The former, which was installed more than three years ago, has been treated with respect, she says. “I always had this theory, that if space is treated with a dignity and care that honors the person using it, that gets reciprocated. People will respect it.”


“People want me here, and they are good at showing it. I know the mayor on a first-name basis; I love that,” she says.


Barbosa also is involved with “artsadvocacy,” which means lobbying for government funding of the arts. Although the New Bedford area is not the same as living in New York City, she says as an artist she is appreciated here. “People want me here, and they are good at showing it. I know the mayor on a first-name basis; I love that,” she says, adding that many economic development programs exist in town to help artists become self-sustaining entrepreneurs.

Keep up with our series of artist profiles by signing up here for updates as they are released.  To see more of Tracy’s work and how to purchase it, click here. 

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The Grace of Strong Women: Alison Wells in New Bedford

The South Coast is brimming with creative energy, art and culture. In our 2017 issue, we featured 7 artists who help make it so. Over the next month, we’ll be reprinting our 2017 profiles, with some extra photographs. Today, meet Alison Wells who creates inspiring works which celebrate a wide variety of compelling narratives (written by Laura Pedulli and photographed by Elin Bodin). To see the story as it originally appeared in our summer 2017 issue, click here or just read on…

Painter Alison Wells, a native of Trinidad, never imagined she’d end up in southern Massachusetts—or that she’d make her living as an artist. “Every time I made very certain decisions not to get into the arts, my life and universe just brought me back,” she says.

She studied architecture before a scholarship at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica allowed her to do what she loves. She taught art for several years in Trinidad before venturing to New Bedford for graduate school.

Wells’s paintings and collages explore urban landscapes, local history, femininity, and more. Her works appear in public, private and family collections around the world.

In her “Underground Railroad” series, which plays out on canvas and paper, she recreated New Bedford’s history as a destination for escaped slaves, and Frederick Douglas’s pivotal role in bringing them to freedom. Her mixed media collages incorporate painting, photomontage and drawing techniques. Layered into the piece is text from original sources, such as clippings about a man who shipped himself in a box to escape servitude.

Photo by Elin BodinWells’s “Totem Women” series features Caribbean- inspired abstracted female forms that often morph into column-life structures. Traditional Trinidadian head ties adorn their heads. “I’m from a family of independent women. I have four sisters, and I’m very close to my mother. The women [in the series] are strong, protective and stand their ground,” she says.


“Every time I made very certain decisions not to get into the arts, my life and universe just brought me back,” she says.


The production time of her art varies, she says. “It’s all is in how it’s flowing. It’s in how the painting talks to you. If everything is aligning at the same time, and things are working out, not conflicting, it can move faster.”

Photo by Elin BodinSixteen years since moving to the region, Wells has settled into her downtown New Bedford studio. In addition, she volunteers at community organizations that promote historical preservation, and has taught painting to both teens and veterans. “The energy for the arts is growing in New Bedford,” she says.

Keep up with our series of artist profiles by signing up here for updates as they are released.

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Swinging from the Stars: Teresa Kochis

South Coast artists
South Coast Artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

The South Coast is brimming with creative energy, art and culture. In our 2017 issue, we featured 7 artists who help make it so. Over the next month, we’ll be reprinting our 2017 profiles, with some extra photographs. First up, meet Teresa Kochis, our resident aerial artist (written by Laura Pedulli and photographed by Elin Bodin). To see the story as it originally appeared in our summer 2017 issue, click here or just read on…

Mastering aerial arts requires a combination of technical precision, strength, flexibility and grace. Teresa Kochis makes it look effortless.

Kochis, a New Bedford-based aerial artist, performs her high flying acrobatic feats on 19-ft.-long silks that dangle from the ceiling of her home at the Ropeworks loft space for artists. She climbs, twists, spins, drops and contorts herself with the poise of a dancer.


“I love the feeling of possibility that exists in New Bedford. Whether it’s a small business opening up or a nonprofit launching or a historic mill building being re-envisioned, New Bedford is a place where new ideas and projects are being tested.”


South Coast artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

“When I perform, I am very focused on executing the skills well and safely. After that, I let the spirit of the piece take over, whether that means deep diving into serious emotion, moving with abandon, or allowing my inner clown to take to the stage,” she says.

Kochis is owner of Overhead Arts, which provides circus arts training right in the heart of New Bedford. She first started offering a few classes for adults in January 2010, and soon extended lessons to youth.

As a child, Kochis immersed herself in drawing and painting. At age 17, she encountered aerial arts when her sister began training at the Circus Arts Institute in Atlanta.

“I remember seeing her perform and knowing I wanted to do be able to do that, too,” says Kochis, who went on to receive training and education from the Arts Institute, the New England Center for Circus Arts and New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study. She also served as a coach coordinator and social circus instructor for the outreach program of Cirque du Soleil.

Kochis and her partner, Andy Anello, eventually moved from New York City to New Bedford with a little guidance from the Internet.

“I googled, ‘Massachusetts loft,’ and our building The Ropeworks Artist Condominium came up in my search. It just happened to be the week before New Bedford Open Studios, so it was easy to come down and take a look at the space. The rest is history,” she says.

In addition to classes at her loft, Kochis brings aerial arts to area youth through New Bedford Cultural Council-sponsored programs at the Boys and Girls Club of New Bedford and AHA! (Art • History • Architecture).


“Every time I teach a student to juggle scarves, I’m reminded of the intrinsic value of circus arts. It has the power to bring joy, self-confidence, drive, and perpetual wonder to an individual in a short instant, which can truly last a lifetime,” she says.


Over the years, she has watched her students reach new heights (both literally and figuratively) in confidence and ability.

“I have adult students who have gone on to acquire teacher- training certificates and now teach at Overhead Arts. I have advanced youth students who are seeking out educational and performance opportunities in circus arts. I have students that come back year after year to take part in Overhead Arts’ outreach programs. I’m so proud of all of them,” Kochis says.

South Coast artists

Photo credit: Elin Bodin

In 2016, Kochis opened an additional space at 88 Hatch Street, not far from the Ropeworks. “The building is a great fit for Overhead Arts since it’s intended for artists, has industrial beams perfect for rigging aerial equipment, and lots of open floor space for classes.”

Kochis credits her success with the supportive atmosphere of New Bedford, which offers affordable living and studio spaces, an array of arts organizations, proximity to larger cities like Boston and Providence, and a rich culture and history.

“I love the feeling of possibility that exists in New Bedford. Whether it’s a small business opening up or a nonprofit launching or a historic mill building being re-envisioned, New Bedford is a place where new ideas and projects are being tested,” she says.

In the meantime, Kochis hopes to grow the student base by attracting more talented and passionate coaches and launching out-of-school camps, and potentially, a scholarship program.

“Every time I teach a student to juggle scarves, I’m reminded of the intrinsic value of circus arts. It has the power to bring joy, self-confidence, drive, and perpetual wonder to an individual in a short instant, which can truly last a lifetime,” she says.

To keep up with your cool and interesting neighbors and what’s happening on the South Coast, sign up for our free updates right here. To learn more about Overhead Arts, check out its Facebook page.

Laura Pedulli is a Marion-based writer who has covered art, government, healthcare, business, education and cultural affairs for various publications – including The New Bedford Standard-Times, Sippican Week and The Wanderer. She currently seves as associate director for communications at a local college. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she has traded mountains for the ocean and hasn’t looked back. 

Photographer Elin Bodin has spent most of her life outside her beloved Iceland, in Norway, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and finally the United States. Elín moved to New England in 1998 and shortly thereafter fulfilled her life-long dream and established elín photography (www.elinphotography.com), working in both magazine and wedding photography.

 

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