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Water & Form: About the Exhibit

Posted on   ·   Categories Exhibits, Paintings, Sculpture
Water and Form: clay, fiber, and encaustic - artwork by Emily MillerWater & Form: clay, fiber, and encaustic by Emily Miller. Solo exhibit at 510 Museum & ARTspace, Lake Oswego, Oregon. Oct. 6 – Nov. 17, 2017.

Water & Form is inspired by intimate study of our local coasts and wetlands. Works in clay, fiber, and encaustic explore the way water shapes our landscapes, and the gathering of life that shares them. Many of the works incorporate locally found objects, each with their own story to tell.

Encaustic paintings

Cascadia Winter series – encaustic wax, found objects, drawing and collage, 2016

Cascadia Winter encaustic paintings on display at Water & Form solo exhibitCascadia Winter encaustic paintings on display at Water & Form solo exhibit. View full series (20+ paintings) »

In December 2016 I participated in an artist residency in Vancouver, Washington, where I created this series of 20+ encaustic paintings directly inspired by the Pacific Northwest winter landscape.

The Cascadia Winter series was completed in the residency studio, immediately after hours spent exploring local creeks and marshes, gathering details and debris to incorporate into the paintings. Some pieces express a specific moment; others are an accumulated memory of the landscape.

My experience at the residency was strongly influenced by water: cloudbursts, snowfall, wetlands, riverbanks and muddy, icy puddles. Studying the landscape made me acutely aware of the many living things relying on this water to survive.

River to Sea series – encaustic wax, found objects, drawing and collage, 2017

River to Sea encaustic paintings on display at Water & Form solo exhibitRiver to Sea encaustic paintings on display at Water & Form solo exhibit. View full series (10 paintings) »

Beginning with the freshwater marshes that inspired Cascadia Winter, River to Sea follows the water through brackish estuaries, out to the open ocean, and back again over tidal shallows up to a sandy coastline. The ten-panel River to Sea series is the first in a planned series of “progression” pieces, exploring transition environments and natural cycles of change.

Encaustic Process

I use a small flat iron to melt bricks of colored wax directly onto the painting’s surface. Colors are mixed and texture is created as the iron moves over the surface, unifying multiple layers of drawing and embedded objects.

My intentions for each painting are constantly in dialogue with the unique results of each stroke of the iron. The process is spontaneous and intuitive, as the wax re-melts into new patterns and colors with every touch of heat. My role is mostly to decide when to stop.

Read more about the process »

Clay & Fiber sculptures

Rope Baskets – Reclaimed fishing rope, cotton cord, found objects, 2015 / 2017

Rope Baskets - fiber sculpture on display at Water & form solo exhibitRope Baskets – fiber sculpture on display at Water & form solo exhibit. View full series »

For weeks I collected rope washed ashore from lobster traps onto the rocky beaches of Deer Isle, Maine. Cleaned, unraveled, and re-stitched, the colorful rope became a collection of unique baskets accented with local stones and other island treasures. The natural wave of the unraveled rope dictates what shape the baskets take.

The colors of the rope echo the layered coastal landscapes of Deer Isle – pink granite bedrock stained gray from tidal mud flats, a line of bright orange kelp at the meeting point of deep green forest and ocean, layers of muted blues and grays on a foggy day.

I look forward to collecting more rope on the Oregon coast for my next series of rope baskets!

Ceramics

Wanderers glow pots and Ostrea giant shells on display at Water & Form solo exhibitWanderers glow pots and Ostrea giant shells on display at Water & Form solo exhibit

Sea forms, forest details and living landscapes are my inspiration for these sculptures. Creating this work recalls the joy of exploring wild nature and discovering mysterious environments hidden in the everyday. Each piece is an invitation to pause and look closely, to catch a glimpse of something hidden and bright.

All the sculptures are meant to be touched. I love creating work that feels great in your hands, and so I often return to this simple, rounded “pod” shape, using tactile surface textures that highlight the beauty of the raw material.

Every piece in this exhibit invites an experience of the senses. The tactile textures of rough raw ceramic, patterned porcelain, and woven fishing rope contrast against smooth colorful glazes and velvety, fragrant encaustic wax. Each painting and sculpture was created in direct response to the wild, physical beauty of the natural world, and the wonder of exploring every detail of the landscapes that sustain us.

I have spent my life on the coast, and all my artwork has its roots in my love of the sea. Water & Form celebrates the endless mystery of the deep ocean and the delight of discovery at tide pools and beaches. I see the coast as a border between the known and unknown, where our human connection to nature becomes clear. I believe that celebrating this essential connection can lead us to meet the unknown in our lives with wonder and joy.

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