Waxing On About Love and Dandelions

March 21, 2012

By Amy Zurcher

Try to imagine being a child again where you saw each dandelion as an opportunity and not merely a landscaping nuisance. Remember back to the time when you would rush at the chance to pluck one with its head of white bursts between your chubby little fingers, fill your cheeks like billowing sails to blow, blow the top clear off sending shining white puffs into the sky. You delighted in each and every one and maybe you believed (I know I did!) the “Love me, love me not” folklore, whereas you knew you were loved if the puff was removed completely with one distinct and powerful blow. Perhaps you were a bit more complex in your impassioned notions and fervently believed that if some pesky seeds still remained, then you would know beyond a shadow of doubt that the object of your affection had some doubt as to their love for you. Sad stuff. Maybe though you waxed more poetic and saw your diehard commitment to huffing and puffing on these delicate flowers as merely a form of transcendental  transportation. You knew that whatever seeds you managed to separate from the stem would carry your amorous thoughts and dreams through the air landing on the object of your affection.

To conjure up these memories was natural when I first spied the encaustic photography of SCAD graduate Shoshannah White. If you are not familiar with the term encaustic please allow me to share with you one of my favorite treatments to artwork that artists sometimes employ. Encaustic is simply  “hot wax painting” and involves using heated beeswax to cover or add interest to a surface. Personally, I have a real fondness for the way a coating of wax can instantly heighten an awareness to detail in fine art—obscuring something just enough to make me take a closer look and at the same time create a sense of haunting mystery and begging for me to admit to this whole genre in my mind that I call for my own aesthetic purposes “creepy beautiful.” Shoshannah’s work certainly falls into that beloved category of mine. Her photographs stir my heart and make the tiny hairs on my arms stand on end with their magnificence! Some of her work is even further aggrandized with mark-making and scratching on the encaustic surface. She first captures the image in a photograph, then prints it on watercolor paper, mounts it on a panel and begins to pool thin layer after layer of wax and oil paint onto the surface creating an ethereal, otherworldly vision that seems our mortal eyes were not meant to look upon.