Lucy Traeger paints single figures. They are….deliberately mysterious, iconic and as much about circumstances of history that envelope them as their individual lives. Traeger finds her figures and a story that captivates her in the pages of the New York Times. Her engaging style helps to situate the figures to be balanced critically between the trajectory of their own lives as individuals and a bigger destiny that intersects it. In Thirst, a weathered old man finishes a precious container of water in the hot sun and amidst a swirling sea of wheat chaff. He has individual features and character but he is emblematic of the eternal struggle of the farmer with the whims and extremes of nature.
Traeger’s African Schoolgirl was inspired by a photo of a 2nd grade girl in a classroom of a school opened in a village in Mali( Sub-Saharan Africa) in 2006. When the doors to the school opened, 420 children were already registered and the director stopped enrollment at 887 pupils and without sufficient books and school supplies to really serve the students. The schoolgirl stands before a blank slate with a primitive pointer. Her future and that of the school seem to be open completely to unknown turns of fate.
In Ivory Coast, Trager allows her worker to be quite anonymous in the face of enormous challenge, his face distorted by the grim features of a toxic waste clean up mask. Ivory Coast is a painting of a worker amidst petrochemical waste and toxic soda which was dumped by tanker off the coast. The tanker, traced to a London based company, appeared to have illegally dumped it’s cargo (various toxic waste products) in the middle of the night. Safe disposal in Europe would have cost $300,000 or more. Many residents of one of the poorest regions of the world were taken ill and some died. It is not known what the long-term effects are on the people and the region. Traeger’s curiosity and compassion are presented with tenderness and a loose realism that evokes our own concern and outrage.
BGD's First Figurative Show
Palo Alto painter Lucy Traeger depicts the idea of universal and unending combat -- war is the same, just the dates and places change.
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal
(Gerald Brett) also points out that (Traeger’s) gloomy images of soldiers in gas masks, huddling in gashes in the ground, recall World War I. But, he says, the paintings can also represent the tragic timelessness of combat. "I think young people might think it's of Iraq."
Palo Alto Weekly
Lucy Traeger’s stark, yet richly evocative environments heighten her figures’ presence and psychological intensity.
Curator, Falkirk Cultural Center
“Art of the Narrative: Interpreting Visual Stories”
The backgrounds have a mythic quality. Life-size toy soldiers stand in deep grottos; translucent aviators are suspended in the fog; officers pause in the dull glow of an empty battlefield. Her figures are beautiful and fragile, glimpsed against a landscape that seems strange and permanent. What is haunting is the sense that they are not quite remembered.
Professor of English
The College of San Mateo
(The new paintings) have a wonderful blend of new and old, and serve to capture the essence of the toy soldier, and the importance of that image as an icon. In light of the actual war in the Middle East, the images conjure up many conflicting feelings, and I think…do a great job of making it feel palpable.
Palo Alto, California
The two paintings…are closest to what is currently being offered at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. They are kitschy but have a cynical attitude.
Chief Curator, The Oakland Museum of California
Los Gatos Art Association Open Juried Show
Los Gatos Museum
Los Gatos, California