Thursday, April 19, 2012

Studio Visit & Mini Interview: Molly Geissman

One of the things that became apparent during New Mexico Showcase, was the unexpected popularity and diverse offerings of the encaustic medium.  Not knowing very much about this ancient technique involving bee's wax and pigment, I decided to track down Molly Geissman, one of Albuquerque's foremost encaustic artists to learn a bit more about her process. Check out more of her work at Mariposa Gallery in Nob Hill. 



Dress form


You're originally from Detroit, what brought you to New Mexico? 
We came to New Mexico in 1985 when my husband took an associate professor job at UNM.

Nice textures achieved through collaged layering and encaustic  
Details
How long have you been an artist? How has your approach evolved over the years?
I have been making stuff all my life, it is in my blood.  There were members of my mother's family who were professional artists.  I started making things with more functional purposes until that no longer met my needs of expression/communication and I had to find other methods.  I worked as a knitwear designer and co-owner of Village Wools here in Albuquerque for 10 years where I learned a lot about fiber.  Then I went back to school at UNM in studio art to pursue painting.



Has living in New Mexico informed your art making process? 
New Mexico and Albuquerque specifically, have an amazingly diverse and gifted art community.  It has had a huge affect on my art and process.  We are so fortunate to have access to a graduate program such as UNM, along with fabulous other educational based institutions like the Harwood Art Center, 516 ARTS and the Albuquerque Museum who continually produce amazing programs for the community.  I try to contribute and participate as much as I can.  Every opportunity has been an invaluable experience and added to my visual process.

Molly has an extensive collection of antique doll heads


You primarily work with encaustics, what's that process like? 
The encaustic process goes back to the early Romans/Greeks.  Bees wax and resin (there are many formulas) are heated and applied to a substrate and the fused again with heat to that surface. Pigment can be added to the wax/resin to give color.  There are many variations on this basic formula.



Detail
There seems to be a growing contingency of encaustic artists working in New Mexico. Are you familiar with a lot of the artists in that network? Do you share trade secrets? 
There is quite a large community of New Mexican artists working with the encaustic medium and I do know many of them.  I find most artists to be extremely helpful and sharing with ideas or new tools in the medium.  Here in New Mexico we have the Encaustic Art Institute located in Cerrillos.  It is a non-profit organization devoted to education and exhibition of encaustic art work.  They offer classes through their website and also have an exhibition space.  There is also a national convention devoted to the encaustic medium held yearly on Cape Cod in June.  Several local artists have attended (including myself) and bring back information helpful to all.


Finished pieces
Portraiture studies
Antique portrait 

Molly's aunt painted this AMAZING paint-by-numbers moonscape
Doin' Time #44  is on view through April 28th at 516 ARTS



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