Monday, July 25, 2011

Terza Rima

These encaustic panels are from the late 1990s, when I was learning how to paint with encaustics after studying with Laura Moriarty, teacher extraordinaire at R&F Handmade Paints. My initial interest in encaustic had to do with an early idea about erasure: that the wax is so incrementally opacifiying, text can be made to look increasingly and slowly ghosty. I glued pages of my own poetry to a wooden board, and did a first pass of editorial marks on the paper in oil pastel. I painted over the work in encaustic and let the wax decide what it would show and what I would obscure.

Then I collaged various things onto the wax (brick straps old and new, random metal things found around). The yellow and white one has a piece of metal fencing driven into the wood before it was painted. One has photos collaged onto it (one year, we thought it would be a good idea to take pictures of myself wearing nothing but Christmas lights and use it as a Christmas card - the idea never came off, but the tiny contact sheet photos that I used here were terrific).

The pieces turned out to be subtle and difficult to photograph - the camera doesn't know what to focus on: the ghost text or the surface. I live with these pieces on a daily basis, and the shifting light of the day changes them minute by minute, the light highlighting or de-emphasizing the underwater (underwax) text. While I can't say for sure, it looks like I was looking at a lot of Agnes Martin at the time.

"Terza Rima" refers to a three-line stanza-ed Italian poetic form used by Dante. All the pieces basically have three things going on: two colors in wax + the collaged pieces.

Terza Rima (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5) - encaustic, oil and collage on wood, 12" x 24", late 1990s

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