Discovering a box of old family letters in my family’s basement would change the way I painted and how I thought about my work. There were stacks of letters bound in twine according to who sent them. They dated back as far as 1919 through 1946. Many of these letters reference the dust bowl days of Texas and the Great Depression. I come from a family of cattlemen and farmers who were dependent on the weather for their survival. Loss of crops due to droughts and tough conditions in raising cattle are common themes coupled with money problems. These problems are not mine, but I couldn’t help relate them to obstacles and set backs that we all have.
Encaustic is a medium that can be worked flat or sculpturally. One of its many attributes is it can retain any stress mark or scrape once it cools. It has an innate feature for documentation. These letters; represent a period of suffering, loss and endurance in our country, and for me, the intricately-worked encaustic shrouds became metaphors for struggle and change. Layers of wax literally cover up the past. I peel them back to reveal a portion of what once was. Revealed, exhumed,manipulated,up-ended, exposed-all of these actions give me a sense of freedom, and the ability to step outside myself. Seemingly destructive to the surface, the peeling plays a positive role in removing a build up and seeing what has been lying dormant. It holds a stratum of time much like the earths core. The depth created working this way is jarring to me, confrontational,alluring and frightening. There is risk involved, but the presence of this relief work conveys a sense of resilience and life which keeps me returning. It speaks with a boldness and beauty that is also fragile. This opposition between image/content and material is the catalyst for the development of my encaustic relief series. This work continues to evolve as I find new ways to shed light on the past that enlightens and informs the future.
Stephanie graduated with a BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design in 1985. She was awarded a residency at The Vermont Studio Center in 1997 & 2016. The article “Thriving on Experimentation” by Flavia Cigliano featured Stephanie’s encaustic relief work in the March/April 2018 issue of Artscope Magazine. Her painting ” The Breakaway” won the Centerfold feature in the March/April 2016 issue of Artscope Magazine. In 2017 & 2013 she was awarded a scholarship to attend the International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown. Her work is featured in the 2015/2016 winter issue of The Surface Design Journal called “Memory, Spirit and Gender:Existential Themes in Fiber and Wax” written by Joanne Mattera. She has shown for many years at the Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown, MA. and is a member of New England Wax. She and her husband run a honey business called Queen Bee Honey, where she harvests and cleans some of the beeswax that goes into her paintings. Her work is in the collections of Meditech, Mitz Levin and Enkaustikos as well as many private collections.