When stepping into Tracey Snelling’s exhibit “Multiple Realities,” gallery-goers will find themselves immersed in countless “different sounds and languages” while absorbing the vibrant colors and various characteristics of, what Snelling refers to as, the “shacks.”

One piece of her work which will be on display, “One Thousand Shacks,” is usually 16-feet-tall by 10-feet-wide, but will need to be split apart as the ceiling in the gallery space is too low. Composed of many substances and various mediums, Snelling built her work out of recycled materials.

Snelling created her work by “saving old boxes, food boxes, tin foil and a lot of plastic,” which plays on a critical theme of the work: Making do with what you have.

“I just had the image in my head: Wow. I had to do it,” Snelling said, referring to her inspiration for “One Thousand Shacks.”

During her research in Mexico, Cuba and China, Snelling began to get an honest look at the “extreme global poverty,” both around the globe and in the US. With her new awareness and perspective came the image of  “One Thousand Shacks,” which illustrates global devastation and how it varies country to country. 

Despite the heavy subject matter, Snelling will display her work as she saw it: as an outsider.

“I realize that I am an outsider, I try to be neutral and just take things in and put it out; to not be judgmental,” she said.

As a result, the work does not focus solely on the struggles of poverty. Snelling recognized that while global poverty is one of our most plaguing and devastating issues, the people living in poverty are still living.

“These people are very resilient, a lot of people start businesses in the favelas or wherever they are living,” Snelling said. “There are kickboxing schools that they start, all sorts of different things.”

Snelling’s work is transparent, and every component matters. She encourages the audience to take a look behind the shacks to see how they are put together.

The shacks’ frames are made of wood while countless simple wires race along the walls to power miniature TVs and lights. Snelling explained that “the back is almost as important as the front because it shows that in a lot of these areas you just have to take what you have.”

Her exhibit will also contain a set of miniature store fronts and rooms. Some of these play off of stereotypes, social issues and other rooms that, to her, were just “intuitive,” such as the “disco-party” room.

While some make statements on topics such as prostitution and feminism, others “subtly look at the social issues, not necessarily making a statement, but pointing out that there is an issue.” Snelling’s ability to jump into and out of troubling realities will lead to a socially intriguing, yet artistically beautiful experience for gallery-goers.

While Snelling’s passion for creating art is unmistakable, she also has a clear hunger to change the way people see the world.

“I would love if this influences anyone to donate money or do something to help with poverty, but on a bigger scale, I hope that my work opens people’s minds a little bit more to be more inclusive and accepting.”

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