Decatur Market and Art Gallery: Dreams on Fire

I spent last Saturday night perusing various pieces of art on display at a local gallery/ cooperative in Decatur Village. It was a fun evening of conversation with other artists and casual “interpretation” of the deeper meaning behind some of their works. The theme of the event was Dreams on Fire and Mali Harrell’s fused glass “Fire Flower” offered a visually literal representation of the concept. When I visited her website after the exhibition, I could see clearly why she refers to glass as her “constant muse” – especially when it comes to finding joy in the unexpected “imperfections” that work their way into her finished pieces. I wondered, and still wonder, where the imperfections lie in some of my favorites that range from playful sea sponges to dresses inspired by famous women to full body figurines in her Ladies series. The execution was flawless, as far as I could tell!

Fire Flower

One of my other favorite artists of the evening – and probably the one whose style physically and emotionally drew me in the most – was Penny Treese. She refers to herself as an encaustic artist and I immediately wanted to learn more about this medium that I hadn’t heard of before. As an artist, I naturally gravitate towards art forms that involve a layered, nuanced process that I can immerse myself in on multiple levels, and Penny’s work did not leave me disappointed.Treese creates both landscapes and female figures, but it was one of her female figures that stopped both me and my husband in our tracks. We couldn’t tell if the woman was dancing or in pain, falling or being uplifted, naked or clothed – and yet it was all of these questions and contradictions that compelled us to deeper dialogue and curiosity about what we were seeing.

encaustic 2Encaustic 1

 

I was reminded of my original CultSTATUS logo The Dancer as well as my current and permanent logo The cS Angel. Both images were meant to discuss deeper issues and concepts than their surface visual depictions revealed. I hoped that my works would engender a similar reaction with my own viewers. And yet, no artist – especially an emerging artist like myself – wants to find an exact mirror of their process already being accomplished by someone else. So it was a pleasant surprise to read Penny’s artist statement and discover that her intent was something completely different than what I would have expected.

The short of it was that she used an aging process with coffee, wine, water, salt, cold, and heat to physically “age” her subjects and then reveal their inner beauty through the encaustic process. It was a concept that left me wildly inspired! I wanted to call up my sister-in-law who recently used a similar process to give her hand-made wedding invitations a vintage appeal. Who says aged can’t be beautiful? I’m also thinking about taking a few encaustic art classes, now that I’ve experienced it first hand! I’d want to blend the form with my love for graffiti, papier mache, and collage as well – but discovering my own style would be half the fun. Oh, and did I mention how much I LOVE her business cards? Got any spare change? ~ cS, Constance SHERESE

Spare Change

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