Opening Reception Thursday, August 7, 5-8 P.M.
Kevin Piepel presents “Murmuration”; a collection of encaustic paintings referencing the flocking habits of starlings as a metaphor for the interdependence of all living things.
A little over a year ago, I saw a video of thousands of starlings taking flight over River Shannon in Ireland. These flocks are aptly and beautifully named a murmuration. The image was mesmerizing. My mind fell silent. It was as if seeing a previously undiscovered species. The mass of birds swirled and twisted in the sky. The flocks expanded and contracted like sentient plumes of smoke. At their most basic level, the birds are simply reacting to each other. A more fascinating level is how scientists describe the birds’ motion as a phase transition, as when metals become magnetized or liquid turns to gas. This makes sense for seemingly lifeless things, but how could this describe a group of birds? That question is what intrigues me. Are the molecules in metal and liquid individual beings as well? Maybe all things are alive, sentient, and acting as one? Maybe…
In making my encaustic paintings, I apply molten beeswax paint to 1 1/4 inch thick wooden panels. I allow the paint to drip off the edges resulting in an organic undulating edge revealing the evolution of each painting in strata of colors. I work with 5 types of blow torches. Each torch is tipped with a unique quality of flame. I use my torches as an oil painter uses brushes. My torches allow me to persuade paint to move and take form or blend together like cream swirling in black coffee until the wax cools capturing that moment in time. I use wood working, pottery and etching tools to sculpt and draw into my wax surfaces which are up to 1/4 inch thick. These are the most basic and vital of the techniques I employ. The bulk of my techniques are of my own creation. I take great pleasure in their development and refinement.