Elemental: Contemporary Encaustic

Charyl Weissbach, Patricia Gerkin, Donna Hamil Talman, and Debra Claffey : Four artists who use mixed mediums of encaustic, oil and cold wax, charcoal, and resin, and who make up the art collective Elemental, present four viewpoints on the ongoing discussion of environmental destruction and the human role in reclaiming environmental health.

They explore the interconnectedness of all living things, human responsibility for the health of the planet, and the need to restore balance and sustainability to our beleaguered and endangered environment.  In doing so, these four artists challenge the boundaries of the artist’s role in determining the future of our world through their message.  Dedicated to the noble pursuit of raising awareness of the need for sustained efforts in reclaiming the natural balance of ecosystems on our planet, each of the artists makes use of the ancient medium of encaustic (hot wax painting) and mixed media to convey her message.

Debra Claffey is intimately aware of our overall interconnectedness with the environment and all its living species. Her works offer a respite from the seeming unconcern for ongoing destruction and they call upon us to restore balance to the relationship of Human to Nature. Patricia Gerkin laments vanishing species on land and in sea, diminishing glaciers, deforestation, and the evidentiary findings revealed in Earth’s exposed stratifications. Her works chronicle the slow process of reclamation. Donna Hamil Talman’s works speak of evolutionary processes, origins and history, as well as ecological concerns; and Charyl Weissbach’s works represent a dialogue between nature’s expansiveness and its beauty. Her environmental concern is the ocean’s acidification of the habitats within our oceans; some of which include corals and sea anemones.

The shared sensibilities of these four artists are striking. They are driven by a commitment to nature, balance, and proper stewardship of our planet. It is an exhibit worth viewing and contemplating for its beauty, its lamentations on current practices, and its call to action for a more hopeful future.

We must begin to restore the balance in the relationship of Human to Nature. My daily reminder is that plants and trees are intelligent beings that we have disrespected in so many ways, and we must find ways to reconnect.

–Debra Claffey

The way life, of the land or of the body, evolves has always fascinated me. With the passage of time, all forms of matter morph into something else. Structures emerge and decay; new structures emerge. Interest in celebrating the forces of nature now leads me to contemplate how external forces affect our world and ourselves.

–Donna Hamil Talman

I explore nature’s vastness, movement, and distinguished beauty. These elements emit an aesthetic sensation of harmony, the illusion of timelessness, and feelings of inspiration that transcend earth, space, and time. 

–Charyl Weissbach

The Earth prompts me to examine the space between the physical world and the inner world and our human responsibilities to both. Using the natural world as my metaphor, these works reflect the paradox of constancy/change, static/shifting ground and the unrelenting message of the passage of time. 

–Patricia Gerkin