Textile and Fashion Artist
Tracy Austin is an educator at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design and is the Studio Head of the Fashion Design Program. Her craft practice is in textile and fashion and she explores art and design through watercolour and ink. Austin was highlighted in the 2019-2020 Marion McCain Exhibition of Atlantic Art at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and has been a juried Craft NB member since 2018.
Tracy was born in 1984, in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She has spent most of her life enveloped by the quiet nature of the park city and abundant botanical elements of the Maritime Provinces. The rich artistic community of the capital is an inspiration for Austin, and she involves herself with the community whenever possible.
Austin attended the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design and graduated with a diploma in Fashion Design in 2007. Costume and couture clothing was her focus, even in her primary years as a fashion designer. She merged this interest with her love of miniature detailing to design and create pieces for Asian Ball Jointed Dolls. Austin launched her international doll fashion company, Steampetal, in 2013 and her unique style and attention to detail have found an audience from France to Japan.
Her style is inspired by dark, occult and gothic themes combined with the beauty and ferocity of nature. Tailored traditional pieces like corsets, jackets, and layered petal skirts are highlights of Austin’s work. She focuses on textile design, often creating her own fabrics with dyes, layering and embellishments. It is important to Tracy that her pieces, while miniature, still retain traditional sewing and tailoring techniques and are created with the same care and detail that a full-sized garment would be.
Frustrated with the concept that fashion was frivolous, Tracy wanted to reinvent her work as sculpture instead of wearable garments. In 2016 she decided she wanted to take her art further and began to work on couture and sculpted fashion pieces that were designed to elicit emotion to the viewer and make statements in response to social issues. Many of her pieces are about her view on feminism and recognizing both the struggles and the strength of women.
Torn over hiding her interest in the occult, Austin divulged her spiritual practice with her launch of Oracle for the NBCCD faculty exhibition in 2016 and embraced her love of spirituality and the unknown. Feeding into her established style, her work evolved as she explored more untraditional topics and themes with her art. A believer that the hardships of life bring us our character, she tackles these themes through her series Weight of Power.
Austin’s work will continue to deal with the concept of power through fashion and focus on the theme of ‘A light in the dark’, as she continues to create empowering designs that embrace darkness and structure while keeping their femininity.