Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Miles Conrad - "Wax & Wane" - Encaustic in the Summer

Bound, wrapped and dipped in wax, the perception of the objects in Conrad’s installation fluctuate between their organic and synthetic sources. Inspired by Conrad’s workshop at the 2008 Montserrat College of Art Encaustic Conference, "Off the Wall: Encaustic in 3D," this piece involves coating found objects such as cactus thorns, twigs, cardboard and rubber globes in wax and forming them into orbs, where they serve as abstract representations of natural forms.

In this version of the concept, Conrad and Conference Director Joanne Mattera were inspired to incorporate the effects of the sun and heat on these wax-covered objects. Exposed to direct sunlight and the high temperatures of the storefront window, the forms will collapse and transform. “With so much focus by the contemporary encaustic community on the preservation and the archival quality of the material,” Conrad explains, “the concept was to offer an exhibit that celebrates the medium’s fragility and temporarily”.

Conrad describes his studio practice as combining encaustic, found objects and mundane materials to create biomorphic abstractions; encouraged by studying source images from the fields of biology, immunology and pathology. Through his interest in the biological and the natural world, Conrad discovered another layer of meaning to the installation in its reference to the effect of global warming and a changing planet.

Much of encaustic’s most exciting origins were based in artists relinquishing control to the wax itself, a material that would dry and take shape before one could recreate it. Conrad has offered this authority not only to the material, but to the affects of the natural world; allowing his piece to be created and recreated by it’s surroundings.


“These three-dimensiona
l, constructed black and white photographs inside white optical viewing sculptures reflect a critical, humorous and questioning view of the world, seen through the lens of a future memory of a fictional place…” Rebecca Hackemann, 2009

Hackemann’s PEEK series shines a light on the act of seeing – the process of vision and the construction of meaning. Approaching Frame 301 visitors will notice the large storefront windows have been covered with white paper dotted with peepholes, enticing them to “peek”, “look” and “see”. Inside, Hackemann has attached mobile stereoscopes, at once taking viewers from Cabot Street to another landscape. Often criticizing an Orwellian visual culture, some images prompt viewers to reconsider the making of meaning based on the visual reception of image/text combinations. In other photographs, viewers may feel detached from a recognizable image as they attempt to grasp exactly what they see. The participatory requirement of the PEEK series is a subtle reminder that we are constantly receiving and conveying meanings. Hackemann has challenged the common definitions of the viewer/object relationship and the language of photography and sculpture by transforming the aesthetic experience. As we are active participants within this piece, we are reminded of our role and responsibility to create, exchange and disseminate our own definitions.

Hackemann is a British conceptual artist whose studio was recently relocated from New York, NY to a barn and farm that she shares with her family in Waverly, Iowa. Born, raised and educated in West Germany, England and America, Hackemann has developed as a person and as an artist alongside a variety of visual cultures. She continues to travel extensively, actively participating in numerous residencies that have taken her from Syracuse, NY to San Francisco, CA. Hackemann is a MFA graduate of Stanford University, CA and received her BFA from the University of Westminster, London. Recent exhibitions include the 5th Biennial of Contemporary Art in Novosibirsk, Siberia (2007) and Chinatown In/Flux, a large, site-specific public art project in Philadelphia in conjunction with the Asian Arts Association.