Stephanie Hargrave

Artist’s Statement:

My encaustic work strives to combine biology and botany with imagery that floats and undulates, and becomes ultimately, somewhat familiar. I am influenced by the shapes of natural structures as varied as pods, pollen, spines, DNA strands, sea urchins, cellular structures, blooms and husks. My paintings incorporate my tendency to abstract organic forms, and in doing so, emphasize the direct correlation between subject matter and materials, as pure bee’s wax, resin and pigments are heated, layered and fused with a torch.

By applying hundreds of thin layers, each melded with the previous layer, I attain the transparency and luminosity that is possible with wax. I explore carving into the pieces, using varying line weights, and burnishing in paper. I approach each piece without any pre-conceived idea – I let each piece grow naturally through the process of layering, decision making, eliminating, receding, assessing and at some point, knowing when to walk away.

I’ve been both painting and working in clay since college, where I studied color theory, ceramics, sculpture, drawing and painting. I started a line of functional ceramics as a small business in 1997 after studying with Carol Gouthro, and have worked with metal, oil paint, and acrylics over the years, but my medium of choice is bee’s wax. I learned a great deal studying with Jef Gunn and Larry Caulkins at Pratt Fine Arts Center, and have been focusing for the past 12 years exclusively on encaustics. It is the one medium that affords all the other materials I’ve worked in to overlap and inform one another.

I find bee’s wax to be inherently lovely, and work with it always mindful of how its natural beauty and transparency can coexist with my ideas and imagery.