Backstory: Couple months ago, a friend invited me to create a piece for a project she’s working on about dimensional wax pieces. While most of my encaustic paintings are textured and could be considered “dimensional,” I really wanted to push myself to get off the wood panel and see what I could create in 3D space. She asked for a piece that reflected the themes of cultural inheritance and legacy I explored in my film, A Lot Like You.
This prompt reminded me that in April 2018, I pulled out the transcripts of family stories I collected for my film — and, with no clear end goal in mind, I started cutting up and inking the shredded transcripts…trusting that they would some day find their way into a piece…
4/17/18 – These interviews I transcribed with my family elders on Kilimanjaro were the heart of my film. Even on the page, my Aunts’ stories are arresting. Now these transcripts will form the foundation of my next piece…
4/20/18 – As an encaustic artist, it’s rare that I can work on an art piece outside my studio. so I’m relishing being able to ink the shredded paper wherever I please. Especially on a day like today when I’m feeling pretty lousy, I can binge watch Theaster Gates & Andy Goldsworthy docs while reclining on our sofa, wrapped in a cozy blanket and sipping coffee.
4/20/18 – End of Day 3…inking each piece by hand is a slow and meditative process. 7 hours straight today. Time to switch gears and walk the dog!
FAST FORWARD TO 2019…
2/14/19 – …and now, for something completely different!! Spent the past 2hrs cleaning the studio, getting ready to work with encaustic, paper, wire and fabric. Won’t have anything finished to show for the next few weeks…but i’ll be posting detail shots of this piece in progress. (just for the record, i have Absolutely No Idea where this is going. i’m just committing to experimenting with 3D play.) 🙂
2/14/19 – The motif of yesterday’s painting of chain links takes root as I finally find a use for the shredded transcripts of family interviews that I inked last year. While I don’t have much experience constructing dimensional pieces–I do remember making paper chains in grade school…
2/15/19 – Spending all day making encaustic paper chains out of shredded family transcripts. 5hrs down, 4hrs to go…
2/21/19 – I started the day making strands of orange & red, but then decided to limit my palette to colors of the Tanzanian flag — fitting since these paper chains are made from shredded transcripts of interviews with the Tanzanian side of my family. So now I’m focusing my efforts on blues, greens, yellows. Onward!
2/25/19 – All day, today & tomorrow, I’ll be 1) coating transcript strips with encaustic medium on the hot plate to 2) make links, then 3) gluing them into chains. Podcast playlist is packed, headphones are fully charged. Here we go…♡
3/1/19 – Much gratitude and love to my friend Connie for coming over this morning to help me create an alginate mold of my face.
3/1/19 – Been obsessively scraping and cleaning up this piece with my pottery & dental tools for 4 hours straight. SO satisfying! But it’s time to step away, and return with fresh eyes tomorrow to check out my handiwork in the light of day…
3/4/19 – As I experiment with making an encaustic cast of my face, I’m struck by how much the wax-filled mold looks like an oyster shell…🌊
3/5/19 – Turned out, and cleaned up, the encaustic cast of my face. The verdict is still out re: how I feel about it. It’s getting a bit weird (and eerie), having disembodied faces on my work table. Here’s hoping I can turn them into something beautiful!
I made this short video about the “source material” for these paper chains – shredded transcripts of the family stories I gathered while filming on Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2003.
3/19/19 – Working on the bottom half of my dimensional encaustic piece today — arranging the wax/paper chain in (what I hope will be) an ascending spiral!🤞🏽
3/26/19 – Spending the day weaving twigs to form the interior walls of the Chagga hut that will surround the wax mask…♡ Wood up top, paper below.
3/28/19 – Yesterday was a “2steps forward/1step back” kind of day. This is the challenge and the thrill of #LearningByDoing . Even tho I had to undo a lot of my work, no effort was lost. Each go-around leaves a trace of story that will be seen and felt in the final piece. Every turn is worth the effort.
3/28/2019 – #TBT2004 to filming in my father’s Chagga hut on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Fast forward 15 years, different medium, same story (exploring my cultural inheritance and legacy). Spent today finishing the woodwork that, for me, is reminiscent of the interior of our hut.♡
3/29/19 – The Stories We Inherit (72″x 12″x 11″) – Wax, wood, wire, and paper. Calling this piece done…for now…at least in its current iteration. You know how it goes.