Susan Joan Schenk


Encaustic is an ancient medium of painting with wax. These pieces explore the application of wax onto photographic images and incorporate them into unique pieces of art. These encaustic works utilize the tactile quality and exploratory nature of an ancient artistic medium. The encaustic medium is flexible and multi-dimensional. Its unique characteristics lend a transformative, dynamic, spontaneous and experimental approach to photographic techniques and imagery.

Some time ago I took a three-hour workshop in Encaustic painting. It was an early Saturday morning and I dragged the entire family with me to what sounded like a fun bonding experience. Well lo and behold we had a blast. We each had our distinct artistic styles and produced some great little works.

I was hooked almost immediately. I could see the potential for combining photographs with molten wax. After thirty plus years in various photographic and artistic capacities and working in numerous mediums, I was looking for something new. Encaustic was definitely it. I took several beekeeping workshops and visited many local beekeepers to see the differences in the beeswax. Bees are fascinating creatures and the color variations in the wax production can range from subtle to dramatic (white to almost golden brown).

In my art, I combine photography with the ancient technique of encaustic. After moving to Nebraska I became particularly enamored with the expansive vistas of the Midwest. After living most of my life in New York City surrounded by skyscrapers, it was a cathartic experience to capture high plains images. The landscapes on this site give a vibrant, multihued impression suggesting an otherworldly venue. Some have compared the images to a glimpse through the looking glass. Radiant tints and imposing vistas inspire the viewer with a sense of serene magnitude. Celestial, ethereal, and mystical have been used to describe this new work.

The fused wax solidifies those experiences. My intention is to string together traces and coat hot wax on photographic memories. Compiling instances and moments for a more complete picture is like piecing together a puzzle. The triggered memories are portions of the truth, encapsulated pieces of time. The encaustic medium further envelops those memories.