This is part of an on-going series Women in Art Wednesdays

When I first saw Ingrid Calame’s work, I was blown away. Learning about the process she uses changed the way I forever view the world!


What does she do? Along with assistants, she goes out into the world armed with mylar and spends days tracing the world. What do they trace? Sidewalks, graffiti on a river bed, tire marks on the street, an abandoned pool, the floor of the NYSE, or the Indianapolis raceway (yes, you read that right!) to name a few.

When the seemingly random marks are done,  they are combined by overlaying all the drawings. This is what Calame uses for her paintings.



I think it is best in her own words:

Since the early 90s, I have been working with tracing. I go to specific locations to trace marks, stains and cracks on the ground on to architectural Mylar (polyester-based tracing film). From these tracings I make drawings and paintings. I clean the original tracings and layer them on top of each other. Once I’ve piled up the tracings, I place several rectangles of drafting Mylar on top of them. This determines the size of the drawings I will eventually make. I then start to trace the layers of rubbings that are beneath the rectangles, with a different colour pencil for each layer, peeling back the layers one by one until I reach the bottom of the pile. The final drawings are always a surprise.

Tracings from Buffalo

Tracings from Buffalo

I was recently invited to do a resency at the Albright-Knox art gallery in Buffalo, NY. I traced for three weeks with nine assistants for five days a week. We took tracings from a storage hall at the Arcelor Mittal steel plant, from a wading pool, a parking lot. This working process is important – going out into the world.

My journey through tracing different sites, working with and meeting people and seeing their reactions to the work – all this has changed my understanding of representation and abstraction.


It has been said the Ingrid Calame finds beauty in the grime, starting with markings from places in the world that are in plain sight, but of things very few people stop and look at.

Here is a link to an article about the tracing of the Indianapolis Speedway.

Who wants to go exploring Atlanta with me with a couple of rolls of mylar?






  1. Janet

    Vickie, what a way to capture the energy of a place, very interesting! If I were in your neighborhood, I’d go tracing with you. 🙂

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