Tracey is an award-winning textile artist, quilter, long armer, and embroiderer. She combines her love of traditional needlework techniques with free-motion longer machine stitching to create complex tapestries drawn in thread.
Drawn with Thread
“I create realistic landscapes and sculpted still-life in thread. These finely-stitched and richly-textured artworks interpret the natural world around my studio in the hills of the Niagara Escarpment. Themes of change, resilience and life-cycles permeate throughout.
For my landscapes, my process is detailed and painterly. Starting with a simple drawing, I lay out my composition in collaged fabric. I then free-motion machine stitch with a longarm sewing machine, layering 30-50 different colours of thread until the base fabrics essentially disappear and a complex tapestry results. This is non-computerized, hand-guided drawing.
My still-lifes are high-relief sculptures celebrating beauty in the ordinary. Each element (leaf, stem, petal, bark, etc.) is created individually, shaped by hand and appliqued to a background. My innovative technique combines modern tools with traditional hand embroidery that has its roots in the 16th century raised-embroidery technique known as “stumpwork”.
For my installation ‘Change Enables Growth,’ I use the life-cycle of trees as a metaphor for the stages of change: status quo, change event, transition and renewal. I have created large works utilising different textile techniques to correspond to each stage.
In the ‘Oh Canada!’ series, I use the maple leaf to explore our sense of Canada and the internal and external forces affecting us. Thirteen individually stitched, life-size maple leaves represent the ten provinces and three territories of our country and reflect the diversity of our people.
My current body of work, a series of nature studies focusing on the importance of pollinating insects, combines detailed free-motion machine stitching with hand-embroidery and stumpwork techniques.
I’m often asked: ‘why choose textile as a medium?’ I have been embroidering and drawing since childhood and my work is an extension of those early passions. I love the depth and rich texture that can be achieved with textiles.
I’m also asked: ‘how long does it take?’ The simple answer is a long time. I am working with a single sewing thread, sometimes by hand and other times by machine. While my longarm is large and intimidating to some, it isn’t automated in any way. It requires a steady, practiced hand to guide as well as many hours to layer the stitches to achieve my desired result. Thus, these works are all created ‘one stitch at a time.’
My artwork has been juried into many North American exhibitions and has been recognized with numerous awards. It is held in the permanent collection of the US National Quilt Museum and in private collections in North America and Europe.” – Tracey Lawko
Artist-Presenter Collaboration Project Grant, Ontario Arts Council 2022
Dorothy McMurdie Founders Award, CQA National Juried Show 2019
First Prize Landscape, CQA National Juried Show 2019
Award of Excellence for Threadwork, Grand National 2019
Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts Award, Art Quilt Elements 2016
Exhibition Assistance Grant, Ontario Arts Council 2015 2008
Award of Excellence in Craftsmanship, Carnegie Craft 2015
Mary Diamond Butts Scholarship in Embroidery and Needlecraft, Craft Ontario
Viewers Choice Award, Fibre Content 2014
Excellence for Original Design Realistic Pictorial Wall Quilts, CQA National
Juried Show 2014
Fiber: Art Quilts Award, Niche Awards 2014
Viewers Choice Award, Threadworks 2013
Free-motion Machine Stitching Award, Threadworks 2013
Award of Merit for Outstanding Technique & Realism, Grand National 2013
Fiber: Surface Design Award, Niche Awards 2013
Janome Award of Excellence, Grand National 2011
Mardi Neu Award, Fibreworks 2010
Original Design Award, Embroiderer’s Association of Canada 2009
Founders Award, York Heritage Quilters Guild 2007
Chair, Canadian Regional Juried Exhibition, Studio Art Quilt Associates
Juried Artist Member, Studio Art Quilt Associates
CQA/ACC Certified Quilt Judge
“Artist in Residence: Tracey Lawko”. In the Hills Magazine. Vol 26, No. 1, Spring 2019. Photos p. 21. Print.
“Purple Sensation”. “SAQA Member Gallery: ‘Purple Delight”. SAQA Journal, 2019 Volume 29, No.1. Photo p.23. Print.
“Fritillary and Thistle”, Art Quilt Quarterly, Issue No. 13, 2018. Photo p. 64.
“Change Enables Growth”. Art Quilt Quarterly, Issue No. 9, 2017. Photo p. 67. Print.
Spring Nectar”. “SAQA Member Gallery: ‘Tis a Curiosity”. SAQA Journal, 2017 Volume 27, No.3. Photo p.29. Print.
“Tulips in My Garden”. Portfolio 23: The Art Quilt Sourcebook, Studio Art Quilt Associates, 2016. Photo p. 134. Print.
“Art: Tracey Lawko”, Toronto Life, March 2016, p. 100. Print.
“Spring Thaw”. Portfolio 22: The Art Quilt Sourcebook, Studio Art Quilt Associates, 2015. Photo p.130. Print.
“Left Turn.” InTouch Magazine, Ivey Business School. Summer 2014. p. 10. Print. - Beacroft, Carolyn.
“Portrait of a Textile Artist: Tracey Lawko winner EAC Original Design Award 2009.” Embroidery Canada. Spring 2014. pp. 24-27. Print.
“Windswept Snow”. Canadian Quilter, Winter 2014. Cover photo and p. 34. Print.
2022 - Escarpment Encounters, Roberts Gallery
2020 - At Risk, Orillia Museum of Art & History
2018 - Small Things Matter, David Kaye Gallery
2017 - Oh Canada!, David Kaye Gallery
2017 - One Stitch at a Time, Homer Watson House & Gallery
2016 - Change Enables Growth, David Kaye Gallery
2014 - Quilt & Fibre Art Festival, St. Jacobs
2013 - Glen Huron Stitches, David Kaye Gallery
2010 - Inspirations in Textile, Yorkminster Park Gallery
2009 - Modern Stumpwork, Mad & Noisy Gallery
2007 - Texture and Light, Mad & Noisy Gallery
2020 - present, Annual Artists Choice Exhibition, Roberts Gallery, Toronto
2020 - Spring, Roberts Gallery
2019 - present, Art Toronto, Roberts Gallery, Toronto
2019 - Carnegie Craft RetroACTIVE, Carnegie Gallery
2018 - The Labour of Art, Orillia Museum of Art & History
2018 - Insights Incite, First Canadian Place Gallery
2018 - Collected Threads, St. Jacobs Quilt & Fibre Art Festival
2018 - Best Stitch Forward, Homer Watson House & Gallery, Kitchener
2017 - The Artist Project, Exhibition Place, Toronto
2016, 2012 - CQA Invitational
2014 - 25th Anniversary Show, Studio Art Quilt Associates, Washington, DC
2013 - Higher Ground, Guelph Civic Museum, Guelph
2012 - YPG Retrospective, Yorkminster Park Gallery, Toronto
2011 - Fibre Optix, Orillia Museum and Art Gallery, Orillia
2011 - Pentimento, Salmon Arm Gallery of Art, Salmon Arm
2010 - Locavore, Mad & Noisy Gallery, Creemore
2009 - Summer Group Show, Fran Hill Gallery, Toronto
2009 - Treemore, Mad & Noisy Gallery, Creemore
2021 - Mésure/Démesure, Musée Jean Lurçat, Angers, France
2018 Ontario Society of Artists 145 th Annual, John B. Aird Gallery, Toronto
2016 - Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition, Orillia Museum of Art & History
2016 - Art Quilt Elements, Wayne Art Center, Wayne, PA
2015 - Carnegie Craft, Carnegie Gallery, Dundas
2015 - Fantastic Fibers, Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, KY
2013, '14 - Niche Awards, Philadelphia, PA
2013 - Carded, Cambridge Galleries Design at Riverside, Cambridge
2012 - Convergence, Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Owen Sound
2012, '14, '16, '18 - Fibre Content, Art Gallery of Burlington
2010, '13 - Threadworks, Wellington Country Museum & Archives, Fergus
2010 - Fibreworks, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge
2010, '11, '13, '15, '19 - Grand National
2009, '11 - Ontario Craft, Ontario Crafts Council, Toronto
2008 - Bend, Fold, Manipulate, ACA Gallery, Toronto
2008, '14, '15, '19 - CQA National Juried Show
National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY, USA