When Donna Tronca took a psychology class during college she realized she had been living, unknowingly, with a neurological condition called synesthesia, which causes the stimulation of one sense to lead to automatic, involuntary experiences in another sense.
It’s difficult for those who do not have synesthesia to understand it, but for Tronca, both numbers and sounds trigger colors.
For example, the number one is white, two is "medium dark," three is ice blue, four is red, five is green, six is "dark," seven is blaze orange, eight is a "gorgeous blue," nine is dark and 10 is "nothing."
"It’s not that I ‘see’ the color when I hear the number, I experience it," she says. "I perceive it. It’s very hard to explain."
Also, Tronca’s Great Dane’s bark triggers a deep burgundy and the roaring engine of her husband’s Harley-Davidson creates an explosion of color.
Tronca was born with synesthesia and believes that her mother probably had it, too. Her mother might have had a different form that translated emotions into colors. Although synesthesia is believed to be hereditary, neither Tronca’s brother nor sister have it.
Tronca, who is a mixed media artist, says her synesthesia is not a problem; rather, it enhances her life and her art.
"I see it as an attribute," she says. "It’s a huge benefit to experience things around you this way."
Tronca has nine pieces in the 2013 Channel 10 Auction, which airs from April 26 to May 4. The Channel 10 Great TV Auction is a live, nine-day, on-air fund-raising event hosted by the MPTV Friends, Inc., to support Milwaukee Public Television (MPTV).
Each year the auction raises $1.1 million with thousands of items for bid including art, antiques, collectibles, hotel stays, airline tickets, vacation packages, restaurant gift certificates, food and beverages.
Tronca’s art pieces are made primarily from used plastic that she weaves into fabric. She receives most of the plastic from her husband, who does installation for designers and comes across a lot of unrecyclable plastic when materials are shipped to him.
When Tronca saw all of the plastic, she immediately realized there was potential.
"You can’t find these plastics on the open market, I knew that, but I had to figure out how I could use them in my art," says Tronca.
Tronca researched on the Internet, observed how other artists used plastic in their art and eventually developed her own style. Basically she uses it in her mixed media pieces like any other fabric. She weaves with it, fuses it, paints on it and more.
She also creates art from plastic bags and says the volunteers at the auction have been saving their bags for her.
"It’s wonderful. They bring me bags filled with bags. Everyone becomes involved in the end product. It’s a group effort," she says.
Tronca, who now lives in Palmyra, is originally from California. She moved to Wisconsin in 1984 with her first husband, who passed away in 2004.
"I really redefined myself at that time," she says. Friends and family members kept asking her if she would move back "home," to California, but Tronca decided to stay in Wisconsin. Tronca remarried in 2008.
"I like it here better. I like the seasons and the colors here are so vibrant. It’s really exhilarating," she says.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.