Paola Gracey is a pharmaceutical chemist by day, and artist by night in South Florida’s emerging art scene. She blends her talents by incorporating the chemistry elements into her paintings and by experimenting in both studio and lab.
Gracey has been painting for fifteen years. She first started taking it seriously in high school when she had her first exhibit at Florida International University. There, she won the Juror’s Award and even had a prospective buyer. “Ever since then I haven’t put down the paintbrush.” Since then she has received the Juror’s award from Tom Rossetti Fine Art Gallery, performed live art at Project Ethos, and had shows three years in a row at the Art Basel Center for Visual Communication including solo shows and group shows with Mike Cloud, Guerra de la Paz, Adora and David Rohn. However, so far the best moment in her career was when, on a recent art walk, a woman crossed the street to tell her that “she remembered me from another art walk I had done…ten years ago! To me, creating art that sticks with somebody like that is very enlightening.”
During her day life as a pharmaceutical chemist, Gracey spends much of her time in the lab running experiments that test both physical and chemical elements. Before that she did research and development for Chiquita where she experimented with ways to “enhance your average banana”. She also did a stint with the local medical examiner’s office. “All of my paintings reflect the time I have spent in various labs; from the giant abstract banana to the skull and cross bones piece inspired by an overdose that came through the morgue.”
In addition to paint she has used all kinds of mediums in her work including: tempera paints, water or oil based house paints, silica, mica, glitter, glass, acrylic, metallic additives, sand, thickening mediums, as well as different utensils like syringes and pallet knives with teeth for unique textures. “Much of my artwork is a result of exploration with how different mediums react with one another. I keep careful records on my painting ‘experiments’ in a journal for future reference.” In addition to experimentation, she finds inspiration in how things work, how they interact, and in her everyday life.
The art of Gustav Klimt, and the art nouveau movement influence Gracey. “I love the colors he used especially when he incorporated the [gold]! He painted these women so beautifully with these very intricate fabrics which made them so whimsical.” She is also a fan of graffiti artists El Mac and RETNA. She was able to meet both artists when they painted a mural in the Wynwood Art District during Art Basel Miami Beach. “I see a lot of Gustav Klimt in their work. El Mac paints these beautiful women while RETNA paints a poetic decorative calligraphy using my favorite…GOLD!”
Gracey describes her work as “full of shrill colors and layers of paint.” She works mostly with paints and resins and manipulates them through techniques of mixing, blending, layering, tipping, and dripping. She started out using oil paint but eventually gravitated towards acrylics. One day, she was experimenting with mixing different colors of acrylics on her pallet. She left the studio and returned hours later to discover that the acrylics had dried with a swirl of different colors. “It fascinated me… My goal is to continue to refine and develop this style while having fun and creating art that compels a closer look.”
Paola Gracey can be found at www.paolastudios.com, on instagram at @paolastudios, on Twitter at @paolastudios, and on Google+ at +paola studios or +paola gracey.