Thea Schrack is a photographer and painter with a penchant for the past. Her photographic forays have taken her to English country estates, Czech castles, vineyards and to the shores of water bodies all over the world in search of places endowed with a sense of beauty and mystery. The pervasive ethereal, somnambulistic effect throughout her work is derived from an amalgamation of her subject choice, film and developing techniques, and how she chooses to print and mount her images.
Schrack’s work sometimes combines color photography with layers of encaustic wax and oil paint. For these specific pieces, her photography is mounted on birch panel and then covered with a number of layers of encaustic wax. (Encaustic wax is a combination of beeswax, resin, and pigment for color.)
In the artist’s own words: “Creating art is an ongoing investigation and connection to our natural world, and to be in the presence of that mystery on a daily basis is what inspires me. Most of my subjects could be classified as rather mundane, everyday vignettes, like a glance of spring that magically renews itself year after year. It’s the renewal that I look for, the change from one season to another, the persistence of nature and the ever-changing light and shadow.”
In her latest purely photographic series, Seaglass, Schrack seeks to capture one of her favorite subjects, the ocean, through the filmic idea of slow-motion in the still medium of photography. Positioning herself on the edge of the ocean at dawn, the artist photographs the ever-shifting translucency of the water (often shining like sea glass), the movement of the waves, and the shifting tones of surf and sky. The resulting images embrace the abstraction of water’s excited movement—in some images melting sky/clouds/sea into one continuous soft scene and, in others, highlighting the linear lines of the horizon or a powerful wave’s sharp edge.
While the Seaglass photographs are available as paper prints, Schrack prefers to present this series mounted on aluminum with a recessed stretcher, face-mounted with non-glare acrylic. Without a frame to box in the image and objectify it, she reinforces the infinite and expansive nature of her subject. Even the surface of the mounted works – both soft and glassy at the same time -relates to both the surface of the ocean and the surface of seaglass found on the beach.
Thea Schrack received her B.F.A. in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She was awarded the New Faces Award in fine art photography from American Photographer Magazine upon graduation. Her work has been featured in numerous solo and group shows throughout the United States can be found in many distinguished collections. Thea Schrack lives and works in San Francisco.