Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kelly Steinke: Artist Interview — Flow and Control Show

Umbrae, 2010
  12 x 12 x 3 1/2 inches
encaustic on panel
Photo by Christopher Zeleski

Lynette (LH): Kelly, we would love to know a little about you and your background.
Kelly: A native Texan, I am a painter and printmaker living and working in Austin.  After attending graduate school in Austin (University of Texas at Austin) for an MA in Art History, I continued my education in Chicago  (the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) for an MFA in Painting and Drawing.  Following my academic work in  Art and Art History, I lived in New York City for a few years where I worked on large scale oil paintings in my Chelsea studio.  I returned to Austin in 1999 where I am currently living.

My interest in wax goes back to my childhood .  My uncle who lived in west Texas raised bees.  I remember the visits to his farm and the large buckets of honey with honeycombs that he would send home with us.  My fascination with wax continued and appeared in my artwork many years later.

I first began working with wax while in graduate school in Chicago using it experimentally  on fabric and with oil on paper. Now I use a variety of techniques where I combine printmaking with encaustic or create reliefs with encaustic on panels.

LH: Please describe a bit about your work in general – what is it about, your process.  
Kelly: In the work of my new series, I investigate ideas of light, shadow, and movement.  This is created by a repetition of forms juxtaposed unexpectedly to evoke a soft space wherein there is air and light.  Shadows seen from different angles allude to various combinations of changing shapes,  creating movement in the piece.

My interest in art history and ancient cultures led me to create pyramid structures, which, for the Egyptians, were symbols of strength and permanence.  An ancient symbol created with the ancient medium of encaustic is used to evoke shadow and light, harmony and tension, fragility and permanence, structure and freedom.

To create the pieces for this new encaustic series,  I use three-dimensional shapes that have been cast from molds and fuse them to a primed panel. Also, I sometimes use paper cast shapes that have been painted with encaustic.  The shapes are often combined with other materials such as wire, string, and rope.

LH: How many of the Encaustic conferences at Montserrat have you attended?
Kelly: This conference in 2010 will be the second one I have attended.  I also attended the Encaustic Conference in 2008.

LH: Did you create this work specifically for this juried show?
Kelly: My work in the show is part of a new series that I began early this year.  These new works are reliefs on panels that are dealing with light and shadows.

LH: What is your workspace like?  If you have photos of your space that would be of interest
Kelly: My studio is a one thousand square foot building with a twenty-five foot tall ceiling.  It includes a special area with a ventilation system for encaustic work.

 Encaustic work area with hot box and ventilation system
  Studio photos by Kelly Wagner Steinke

Loft – office space, planning, drawing work area

Printing press work area

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?  If so, please give us some details.
Kelly: I am an Art Professor and have been teaching in the Austin area since 1999.  Courses include Painting, Drawing, Life Drawing, Two-dimensional Design, and Art History I and II.

You can see more of Kelly's work at:
Thank you, Kelly!

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