Rolling in the Deep
Four Contemporary artists working in the ancient medium of encaustic.
The encaustic technique, also know as hot wax painting dates back to as early as the Fourth Century BC. Translated as “to burn” or “burn in”, encaustic was originally developed for ship painting by the ancient Greeks. Encaustic, or the combining of pigment and wax, appears throughout history, most notably in Egyptian mummy portraits, and Byzantine religious portraiture. In the 20th century, artists such as Diego Rivera, Jasper Johns and Bauhaus painter Fritz Faiss employed encaustic, contributing to the medium’s resurgence in popularity today. Characterized by the layering of pigments and wax onto wood or canvas, encaustic painting results in artwork of dimension, complexity and depth.
Christine Aaron focuses on the inexorable passage of time and the fragility of the human connection. By choosing encaustic the artist can literally and metaphorically layer images and emotion to convey a visual sense of the archaeological act of recollection. She combines the representational with abstract textures and patterns to illustrate what guides our shared human journey. Aarons works with Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, Ct to combine lithography and encaustic on copper plates or wood panels to achieve a unique alchemy.
Born in Ecuador to Chinese parents, Cecile Chongexplores the concept of displacement and alienation often experienced in our changing world. Chong employs encaustic and mixed media to create impressions of cross-cultural narratives and juxtaposes features from children’s books with other found and original images to address the process of cultural assimilation and the development of individual identity. Cecile received her MFA at Parsons School of Design. In 2011, Chong was the recipient of The Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant, AIM – Artists in The Market Place, Bronx Museum grant and the Emerging Artist Fellowship through The Socrates Sculpture Park.
Lorraine Glessner received her MFA in Fiber from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Her background in design, combined with a deep interest in maps and geology are inspirations for her exploration of the earth, the body and the grid intersect. Employing satellite-imaging software, and incorporating mixed media such as hair, silk and cotton fabric, beeswax, rust and plant staining, Lorraine creates layered patterns representing historical change, cultural differences and the passage of time. Glessner is a professor at Tyler School of Art, Phila, PA.
Perhaps the best-known contemporary artist working in encaustic today, Joanne Mattera’s attraction to beauty in color was influenced from an early age. Her great grandmother was a weaver, and her grandfather, a tailor. Mattera’s geometric, abstract encaustics are luminous and rich, with a sensuality that draws the viewer in. Mattera has shown extensively, is a curator, write and a well-know arts blogger. She is the Founder and Director of the International Encaustic Conference, Provincetown, MA and is the author of the monograph The Art of Encaustic Painting.