WORKING WITH WAX: Contemporary Encaustic Painting in Northern California
Curated by Thomas Morphis
January 21 - March 6, 2010
Mary Black — Black Corpus XI
As a painter, my concerns have always been directed towards process, surface and materials. In 1999 I began using encaustic paint exclusively. As this material is comprised of wax, pigment and damar resin, it must be heated and fused. Using hot wax, which is difficult to control, challenges me in the creation of a wide spectrum of surfaces from flat and transparent to dense and scarred. There is a very destructive aspect to my work, as it is only through the process of destruction and creation that I am able to build the layered, raw surfaces I am so attracted to.
My most recent work, the Corpus series, was born out of a conversation during a painting class many years ago. The discussion came around to the idea that often paintings are too controlled, contrived or self-conscious. My professor said, “I wish you could stick your brush into your gut and paint right out of there.” Although always a struggle to get out of my head, in my current work it is my intention to trust my body’s response to the work and then let the materials dictate the direction of each painting. Never an easy task. It’s about creating chaos, organizing chaos, giving into unplanned responses and then letting go of intentions. This is my dance.