ProWax Journal

Encaustic and the Photographic Image

By Deborah Winiarski

In its infancy, photography was compared, often unfavorably, with painting and was viewed as a shortcut to art. Early creative photographers such as Gertrude Käsebier approached the camera as a tool, manipulating  images to reach an artistic vision, while those such as Paul Strand valued ‘straight’ rather than manipulated photographic printing, valuing the formal qualities of light, shadow and sharp focus that are unique to photography. A champion of photography as a fine art form in its entire range of expression was Alfred Stieglitz, who was responsible for first introducing photography into museum collections.

The artists whose works are shown here bring the rich histories of encaustic and photography together in unique and intriguing ways. Whether using vintage photographs, digital images, remote capturing, or cyanotype, these artists have found their distinctive visual expressions in the combination of encaustic and the photographic image.

Jill Skupin Burkholder

Jill Skupin Burkholder, Fisher, Hidden Catskills, 2014; encaustic, charcoal and image from a trail camera on birch panel; 24 x 24 x 3 inches

“A motion-sensitive trail camera records and instantly transmits surveillance-style snapshots to an iPhone. These ‘photo texts’ from the animals are triggered by chance creating random, intimate compositions uniting the world of the seen with the unseen. We become joined for an instant through the mystical window of technology.”

Elena De La Ville

Elena De La Ville, Torso/Trees, 2015; photography, wax, resin; 24 x 24 inches

“In the Torso series I deal with the change and transformation as we grow and age. I photograph the human body and capture earth images, merging them to show our interconnectedness and dependency on the physical world. Through ephemeral materials, paint and wax, I address sensuality, ageing, and transience.”

Heidi F. Beal

Heidi F. Beal, Talking To God Behind The Indian Wall, 2015; mixed media with encaustic and photography on panel; 13 x 13 inches

“I often use one photographic image repeatedly in my work to explore a theme from different perspectives. The female form in this piece is an example of this practice. She ‘talks to God’ with her back to a sacred garden setting.”

Jeri Eisenberg

Jeri Eisenberg, Momiji No.14, 2014; archival ink on Kozo paper Infused with encaustic medium;
triptych, 36 x 34 inches

“As a photo-based artist, my work is indisputably tied to the real world; but I de-emphasize photography’s representational or reporting qualities, and stress instead its expressive nature. I want to convey an essence and provide a visceral connection. The various techniques I use, including encaustic, help to achieve this.”

Fran Forman

Fran Forman, Portrait No.2, 2015; photograph, photo montage, rice paper, oil paints, gold leaf, encaustic on birch panel; 12 x 12 inches

“My photographic images and mixed media works blur the boundaries between the real and the unreal. These visual narratives evoke a sense of transience, longing, memory, and dislocation. My process is an act of intuition and investigation. I construct dreamy visions and altered habitats with found or borrowed disparate sources.”

Marybeth Rothman

Marybeth Rothman, Laurali, 2015; photo collage, encaustic and mixed media; 40 x 48 x 2 inches

“The photo collage in this series consists of my photographs, vintage photographs and ephemera that have been digitally altered, combined and repurposed to add narrative texture to the Mermaid’s bodies and garments.”

Wayne Montecalvo

Wayne Montecalvo, Three Out of Four, 2016; stained paper, ink, acrylic paint, silkscreen prints layered on wax, wax on panel; 29 x 64 inches

“I am working with the idea of a photograph being more than representation. Staining the paper gives me more to work with, and allows the unpredictable. I want the observer to view the image as a whole composition and see more than only subject matter.”

Susan Lasch Krevitt

Susan Lasch Krevitt, Indoor Cowgirl, 2015; cyanotype, cotton textiles and encaustic on birch panel; 6 x 12 x 2 inches. Photo: M.M. Krevitt

“This new series of work reaches back to explore the shadows of memory. I use encaustic and the cyanotype process to transform both images and three-dimensional objects. This is a step out of my sculptural comfort zone and into a more planar surface.”