Ask Marilyn Angel Wynn about the latest art trend—encaustic—and she’ll point out that the medium has been around for millennia.
“It’s a process that dates back to the fifth century BC and it’s basically still the same—you mix beeswax with resin and add some color tint,” she tells SFR. “People used encaustic to paint their boats in the Mediterranean or paint images on coffins to represent what the person [inside of it] looked like.”
Still, Wynn is aware the style has caught on and is now trendy. “I don’t know if it’s a word that artists really like to use,” she says, “but just being here in Santa Fe, I’m amazed at how many encaustic artists there are.”
Encaustic gets its name from the Greek word enkaustikos, meaning to heat or burn. Art historians consider it to be the most opulent paint ever known, due to its stunning visual properties.
Approaching it as a tool to add depth to her work, Wynn says encaustic used to give her pieces “a cloudy-like, ancient, ethereal look.” Now that the medium is mainstream, she says, “It gives it more of a contemporary look.”
Coinciding with Saturday’s Passport to the Arts, Wynn opens the doors of her Canyon Road studio for her latest endeavor. Titled Bison & Beeswax, the exhibit focuses on both the creative process behind the pieces, and one of the country’s more famed symbols.
“You know how artists go through phases? That’s what I’m into right now,” the fine art photographer jokes.
“The bison, to me, is one of the most iconic symbols of America; I put it in the same category as the eagle.”
Beeswax marks the second time Wynn has opened the doors of her artist’s studio to the public. The first was last Thanksgiving weekend, “in honor of Native American Heritage Month.” After the current opening, she says, the works will be on display by appointment through June 26.
Her artwork’s Geronimo-meets-Warhol look, Wynn explains, is accidental. After she took one of her buffalo images to be enlarged, the printer misread the order and gave the photograph a tiled effect—nine repeats of the same shot.
She calls the incident a “lucky fluke.” After some experimenting with different color tints per tile, her signature grid style was born.
“It’s basically tree sap,” Wynn says of encaustic resin. She points out that because of the material’s “hard as nails” consistency, it immediately preserves whatever it’s applied to.
Breathing fresh life into plain scenes of yore, the artist proves that, even in art, everything that’s old is new again. “It makes the piece archival,” she continues. “That’s why so much of encaustic artwork has lasted this long.”
10 am-4 pm Saturday, May 11. Free.
NativeStock Gallery, 1036 Canyon Road