Artistic bio: Adrienne Trego is a visual artist and non-profit professional from Pennsylvania who has called Fayetteville her home since 2013. She currently works with the Autism Society of Cumberland County as the Director of Programs and Outreach. Prior, most of her nearly 15 years of non-profit experience was with arts organizations.
Art has always been at the center of Adrienne’s life. She is incredibly fortunate to come from an arts-loving family and grew up with access to both professional and community theater, dance and music lessons, and art classes. Having access has made much of her arts administration focus on outreach and accessibility for those who have not had the privilege. Holding a degree in Arts Integration, she sees the arts as a powerful tool for emancipatory and experiential education. As a visual artist, Adrienne works in a variety of mediums, but primarily creates wire sculptures, resin jewelry and has more recently discovered her love for fiber arts, specifically embroidery.
Favorite Local Third Place: I haven’t utilized too many of my “Third Places” during the pandemic, but Rude Awakening downtown is one of my very favorite places and has been since we made Fayetteville our home.
3 Things you can’t live without: Flavored seltzer water (I used to be loyal only to La Croix but have since branched out), my good pair of pliers, and while they aren’t “things”, I would be remiss if I answered any set of questions without including my love for not just my pets (mutt extraordinaire Ruby and our cat, the Trash Prince Barley) but most everyone else’s pets too. I am known to get lost in a group tracking down a cute dog or a stray cat.
Local artist (any genre) you admire: Oh, there are so many! I have been so lucky to work with so many incredible artists, picking one is so hard. But due in part to my recent obsession with embroidery, I have been really inspired by Nanette Zeller, a mindblowingly talented textile artist (based in Moore County I believe) who I first met in 2014 or 2015. In addition to her amazing talent, she is so humble and incredibly kind and a joy to work with. Her kind words about my beginner embroidery work have been so encouraging.
A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Artistically, I have learned to be more diligent about time spent on creative work. Early on in the pandemic, I knew that as an extrovert in isolation I needed to check in on my mental health often, and a consistent artistic practice is always essential to my well being. So I learned to work on at least one of my many ongoing art projects every single day, even if I don’t really feel like it. Unless I was under a deadline for someone, I used to only create when I felt inspired – and there is value to that – but there is also something fascinating about creating work without “inspiration”. It may sound like some artsy self-help nonsense, but I have found truth in the fact that often, the very act of creation is the inspiration. Some of my best work has been produced when I really had to push myself to produce it.
What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently shrinking down some of my embroidery designs to make them into jewelry. It’s exciting but also feels pretty typical for me, since creating jewelry has always been consistent across any mediums I’ve discovered. But it’s been so interesting to take embroidery – a medium that conjures up very traditional images of samplers and Grandmothers – and do things that turn that idea on its head. In February, I was delighted to participate in “The Vagina Monologues” with the best group of women I could ever imagine, including my sister Devin. As part of this, I also had the opportunity to include some of my visual art, and I chose embroidery as the medium. I ended up primarily embroidering women’s naked bodies (mostly fat ones, too!), as I was inspired by ideas around bodily autonomy and women’s agency. It’s not exactly what one would think of when they think of embroidery, but it’s really a medium that has had a recent rise in popularity, and most of it has been taking a lot of these traditional techniques and using them to create more modern designs.
Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? Oh, that’s tough. I am one of those really lucky individuals who is just surrounded by supportive and loving people. I truly can’t pick just one person, my parents, sister, husband, extended family, friends – they have all encouraged my work and most have bought my work, too.
But an early strong influence is my Studio Art teacher in high school, who I am still lucky to be connected with via Facebook. I always was making art, from my earliest memories. But I struggled with a lot of basic drawing, and therefore believed that I was not a good artist. While I have since studied drawing and gotten better, I still gravitate towards other mediums, which I would have never thought of doing if it wasn’t for her encouragement and her introducing me to many materials and techniques that I still lean on today. She had a profound impact on my life and I am so grateful for her early encouragement and to be able to still be connected with her today, some 20 years later.
What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Go to school for art. I’m serious. So many people seem to have this idea that being an artist isn’t a real profession, or that you have to get a degree in something “practical” or else it’s a waste. This is simply untrue: an art degree is surprisingly practical and flexible. There are so many things that you can do with an art degree – my career is a good example of that. And I use the creative skills I learned in school everyday in my day job and in my personal artistic practice.