(Terri Cohn is a San Francisco based writer, curator, and art historian. She has been a contributing editor to Artweek since 1988, and her writings have appeared in numerous other publications including Sculpture, Release Print, Art Papers, New Art Examiner, and Camerawork. She has written and lectured extensively about Conceptual art and new genre public art, and contributed a chapter to Women Artists of the American West (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2003)Mari Marks encaustic and mixed media works consistently evoke a sense of suspended time. Marks employs the plastic qualities and translucent properties of wax as a medium in which to form textures and suspend materials and pigments in ways that elicit memory.
Through over 15 years of working with beeswax I have explored pattern in layering beeswax, pigment and natural materials. In my most recent work I have brought my work with beeswax to its elemental essences. In reducing my work to the elements of color, heat, and sedimentary deposit, I value the materiality, the process, and the natural laws underlying the formation of the natural world.
In The Spectrum Studies, the imagery is reduced to the basic element of encaustic painting, color and layering. Multiple layers of pigment and interference pigments are evenly scraped to reveal subtle patterns created in the process of the even layering of the pigmented beeswax.
In The Sedimentary Series, pattern is created through fine sedimentary materials (graphite, ashes, earth) in layers on the wax, which in heating become part of the wax structure. In the larger pieces, the sediments may be incorporated into the wax or deposited through etched or carved mark making. Heat and light “burn in” the sediment deposits. In all these images, I explore natural processes implicit in creation of earth and geological features.
In Sediments and Circles, sedimentary materials are distributed evenly over the natural or pigmented wax. The fixed application of light and heat establishes currents within the wax, boiling as though in a volcanic cauldron. As the fine materials move within these currents they are deposited in the cooling wax, evidencing the pattern of fluid dynamics.
Sedimentary Series - Terra is comprised of twelve paintings. In this series I have explicitly explored the earth, seas, and atmosphere, especially the depletion of the earth through drought and flooding. In these works the pigmentation of the grounds refers to the tonalities of clay found in areas of the world where the ecosystems has become exhausted, as well as areas of fertility. I engrave patterns of grasses, water or wind patterns in this ground. Layers of graphite in solution are applied and then wiped off as on a printing plate; a heat lamp is used to “burn in” these deposits. This process, like the depositing of sediments on grounds and resulting incorporation through water and heat are both systematic and impacted by natural processes.
Through these processes the paintings unite aspects of subtle emergence, of control and the absence of control, of ritual enactment and the deep sense of flow and oneness crucial to my art. Through my paintings I seek to bring experiences of beauty, peace and healing; the music of our sphere, earth, the ground of our being
May 15, 2008