This exhibition features work by members of FUSEDChicago, an organization of artists based in the Midwest who share an interest in encaustic, a method of making art using pigmented beeswax and damar resin (crystalized tree sap). The human and nature relationship is a fascinating one. Nature is both all around us and deep within us. We exist in layers that range in depth and complexity and it is often difficult, yet necessary to look beyond the surface. The artists in this exhibition engage the senses and, using the encaustic medium, react to the world around them. While some of the artworks in this exhibition are highly textured, stimulating not only the sense of sight but also the sense of touch, some mesmerize with the translucent and radiant quality of beeswax.
The artwork included in this exhibition interact as various states of a narrative that speak to the relationship between the people, art, and nature. As viewers move through each room at Brushwood, they can go deeper and deeper into the similarities between how we perceive the world around us and how this beautiful medium transports the viewers and connects them to nature.
Encaustic consists of natural beeswax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). The medium can be used alone for its transparency or pigment can be added. The medium is applied to an absorbent surface and each layer of paint is then reheated to fuse it to the previous layer. The word ‘encaustic’ comes from the Greek word enkaiein, meaning to burn in, referring to the process of fusing the paint. The now famous Fayum portraits, painted on mummy casings by the Egyptians during the Roman period, epitomize an early notable use of encaustic. After revivals of the medium during the 18th and 19th centuries, Jasper Johns’ paintings in the 1950’s brought encaustic to the forefront of modern art. Contemporary artists are drawn to this ancient medium for its dimensional quality and luminous color. The nature of encaustic paint allows artists to manipulate the surface by building texture, carving into the beeswax, embedding various items or maintaining a glasslike finish.
Beeswax is 100% natural, renewable, and sustainable. Worker bees eat about 10 pounds of honey, fly 150,000 miles, and visit 3 million flowers to produce 1 pound of beeswax. Highly valued throughout history, it was used as a waterproofing agent, in lost-wax casting of metals and glass, as a polish for wood and leather, to seal formal legal documents, royal decrees, and academic parchments, for making candles, as an ingredient in cosmetics, and as an artistic medium in encaustic painting.
Founded in 2009 by artist Shelley Gilchrist, FUSEDChicago is a growing group of Midwest artists brought together by their passion for encaustic. FUSEDChicago artists are painters, sculptors, printmakers, and photographers who bring contemporary sensibilities to their art and use modern technology in creating their work. Members explore the medium’s tactility,
malleability, and the many textural possibilities. They are inspired by the qualities of wax itself: the brilliance of its colors, and the luminescence of wax layers. The group name FUSEDChicago is derived from the process of fusing – applying heat to the wax layers so that they adhere – which is a necessary step in creating an encaustic work.
More information about the artists and the group’s exhibits and activities is available at www.fusedchicago.com. FUSEDChicago is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation.
Participating Artists · Dan Addington · Carrie Baxter · Alicia Forestall-Boehm · Kathie Collinson · Helen Dannelly · Bob Fesser · Tammy Haman · Jeff Hirst · Brad Hook · Nikkole Huss · Laura LaRue · Pat Lagger · Cindy Lesperance · Kelly Matthews · Carol Meyers · Jane Michalski · Rebecca Russow · Michele Thrane · Karen Tichy