Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Authentic Visual Voices: A Journey

After two and a half years of research, writing, interviewing and editing, I am truly excited to announce the completion of my book, Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper and Encaustic.  Deeply committed to the use of these two media in my own artwork for decades, I was and am inspired by how many artists had begun to integrate paper with encaustic. 

Artists who started with paper were discovering the wonderful qualities of wax and encaustic and vice versa, artists painting with encaustic were exploring paper as a surface.   For those artists new to the encaustic medium, it is important to note that even up to only 3 or 4 years ago, it was deemed “mandatory” to paint onto absorbent, hard substrates such as wood.  Paper was never touted as a suitable surface on which to paint encaustic.  Today, working with encaustics on the thinnest gossamer handmade Japanese sheet to a rigid cast paper sculpture is commonplace.

Both media have experienced a renaissance of artistic interest:  the exploration of hand papermaking and subsequent use of paper as an artistic media saw its popular renaissance in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.  Contemporary interest in paper was sparked by the research and work of Dard Hunter (1883-1966), who, making handmade paper as early as 1913 as part of the Arts and Crafts movement, also traveled the world to document the disappearing 2000 year old craft in over twenty published books on the subject, as well as by the studio experimentation of Douglass Morse Howell, (1906-1994) one of the first to experiment with paper pulp and paper as art media in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and who subsequently taught many talented artists who went on to teach others.  The act of creating with paper today is fully accepted in its own right. 

Encaustic’s renaissance within the art world is relatively more recent.  Certainly, encaustic has historical precedence that dates back before the Fayum mummy portraits of Egypt, with artist pioneers using encaustic during the last century as well,  but the increase in interest in painting with pigmented molten wax has occurred more during the last thirty years.

Calling it “cross-pollination”, I was keen on introducing these two media worlds to each other.  I did lots of research to discover the artists who’d been exploring the integration of paper and encaustic for many years on their own, developing techniques and methods that corresponded to their needs.  Compiling a database of international artists (created initially with my colleague, artist Haley Nagy), I realized that the real story lay in understanding the artists.  Not the how behind the media, but the whys behind the choices artists make to express ideas. 

To my curatorial eye and aesthetics,  a number of artists deeply intrigued me and I decided to pursue traveling to their studios to talk directly with them.  With the help of generous donations to my fundraiser through USA Artists Projects, I went on the road with video camera in hand.  I documented my visits though journaling, photography and video.  I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to finally publish the results of my research.   It has truly been an amazing journey, one that I invite you to share with me.

Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper and Encaustic is a survey of international artists whose work explores the diversity of paper combined with the unique properties of encaustic wax in collage, photography, printmaking, sculptural paper and artists books.  This unique book on DVD offers a rare opportunity to gain insight into the artistic process.  

Twenty-eight professional artists in their own voices discussed their artwork with me during in-the-studio video interviews.  Our focus was on where their creative inspiration emanates from and how they as artists synthesize experience, emotions and concerns into their work.

Each of the 28 international artists were asked to create a new work in front of the camera and complete it for inclusion in this book.  The content-rich, image-filled portfolio pages of these artists are followed by another gallery of compelling works and ideas by 102 international artists - a total of over 380 color images and almost five hours of edited video (29 ten minute video interviews).

Emphasizing the voice of the artist, Authentic Visual Voices is a brand new, computer interactive book on DVD that artists and art lovers in particular will find captivating as they gain a deeper understanding into the motivation of these engaging and powerful artists.

Computer Applications required to read/view Authentic Visual Voices
These DVDs on not playable on a TV monitor but are intended for use in computers only.
Viewers will need Adobe Reader  to read it (the book is burned onto two DVDs and is a large pdf with embedded videos in 5 parts) as well as Flash Player   to view the videos (the application needed to watch videos on Youtube for instance). These are free applications for both Macs and PCs.  There are eventual plans for the book to be available as a download.

go to www.authenticvisualvoices.com

Some feedback from readers:

“...the production quality is wonderful and you ask the BEST questions!!!! You did a great job...I am really enjoying watching the videos.  Everyone should buy a copy!!!"

"I can read books about artists and also read what they say about themselves, but the interviews are a real treasure. To actually hear what they say-- often the kinds of words I'd like to mouth--is another dimension. And the format of the printed portion followed by the video is to me unique and so enhancing. I'm going through it slowly to really absorb. Thank you."

"I am enjoying this DVD so much! It's an artistic and spiritual feast! I take it in small doses, savoring each interview, which I seem to like to view first. Then I am more attentive to the written words. And I have a deeper understanding of the work itself going back to the visuals.  I'm recommending it to both encaustic artists and artists working in other media.  Such food for my soul.  Thank you for this gift."

“Authentic Visual Voices is a MASTERPIECE... I don't want it to end. I will spend the summer learning and learning. Brava Brava Brava!”

"By listening to the questions you had been asking each artist and how they responded, I suddenly understood what it meant to be an artist. I realized that each of them had the need to express in a visual format whatever it was that was important to them. It didn't matter if they needed to show their fascination with astronomy, or make a political statement, or show support for a social issue. The passion was there. It was so simple. I don't know why it had taken me that long to realize that. But it was your interviews that brought it all to light for me.
I realized I had the passion that other "real artists" were describing. It was such a beautiful feeling, but such an emotional moment for me. I will never forget how I felt. And it happened because I was listening to your interviews. I watched the rest of them over the next two days, feeling a new kinship with each artist....the excitement, inspiration and motivation that [was] generated in me allowed me to look deeper into myself and make a wonderful discovery, for which I am most grateful."