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Erica Konrad's wax paintings on display at Nelson Library

Poetic Layers, an encaustic painting by Erica Konrad. - courtesy of Erica Konrad
Poetic Layers, an encaustic painting by Erica Konrad.
— image credit: courtesy of Erica Konrad

In the realm of the honeybee, an alchemy of industry and communication creates the magic of wax and honey. In the realm of Nelson artist Erica Konrad, the alchemy of industry and creativity combine in encaustic (wax) paintings that communicate their own poetic magic.

Konrad displays new encaustic work at the Nelson Public Library until the end of February.

Her approach to art doesn’t stray far from the bee.

“The waggle dance is the symbolic language honeybees use to communicate vital information,” she says. "I have used the waggle dance as a metaphor for communication, through encaustic (wax) paintings.”

Encaustic painting — which uses a mixture of beeswax, tree sap, and colour pigments — can be traced as far back as fifth century BC. Layers of wax are fused, etched, and scraped, with a torch or heat gun used to work with the medium.

“This luscious, engaging medium encourages dialogue between myself, the wax, and the canvas,” Konrad explains. “Working quickly while the wax heats and cools allows my intuitive mind to take over, creating an opportunity for the unexpected to reveal itself. Sharing this exchange, suggested through flow and preservation of the medium itself, is my attempt at the human version of the waggle dance.”

Konrad owes her passion for the natural world to a background in environmental studies, and this provides inspiration for her work. Mostly self taught, she has worked in oil, gouache, and plaster, with a focus on encaustic since 2009.

She maintains an active studio practice creating artwork for public and private collections, and teaches children earth art, teenagers painting, and adults encaustic.

For more information, go to ericakonrad.com.

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