06 August 2012

The Summer Inside: Susan Wickstrand

She Hangs Brightly
(oil on canvas)
   San Diego's beaches are world-famous- that's why it's fitting that today's fabulous artist exhibits a deep connection to the beach.
   Susan Wickstrand's paintings and collages are incredibly sensitive to the pulse of life and to the wind's influence on matter, namely water. Often using encaustic wax, the slight blur in her paintings steers us from looking for realism and frees up to look instead for sensations.
   Wickstrand holds the honor of having been awarded the largest grant ever by the city of Los Angeles to a professional artist for public artwork. And her collages are frequently seen on the television program Modern Family.

My Hiding Place
(2003, Oil & encaustic on wood panel)
When Thou Art Gone (Galapagos)
(2002, Oil & encaustic on Belgian linen on wood panel)

Lakeshore Drive
(1998, acrylic on canvas)
Fire Eater
(1998, oil on canvas)

   More recently, Wickstrand has shifted her artistic energies to making collages. After looking at the pieces below, we can clearly see that one of the reasons for this is the freedom which collage-making gave Wickstrand to go beyond simply replicating a physical scene and to instead express a state of being.

Island Style
(2008, Oil, collage & encaustic on wood panel)
Indian Summer
(2005 Oil, collage, India ink,
& encaustic on wood panel)

Skatepark, Kassia Meador, Jenna, and Todd Glaser
(Collaborative oil, ink, and encaustic collage)
(Photos by Todd Glaser)

Ayung Pura
(2004, Oil, collage, and encaustic on wood panel)

   Influenced quite profoundly by the African collages of Peter Beard which document social and environmental realities on the African continent, the genius of Wickstrand's work is that they seek capture the harmony between humanity and environment and express rich moods and states of being, ranging from ecstasy to tranquility to nostalgic yearning.
   Surfing in these pieces reveals itself as an almost priestly endeavor, with the expert surfer respected as the perfect human representative to dance with nature's wave. The beach, in turn, reveals itself as a holy place, with palm trees for walls, glassy water for marble floor, and a sun-streaked sky for a domed ceiling. It's a place of worship, a place to dance and feel alive, and a place where love blooms. It offers opportunities for self-awareness of awareness of our connection to the the world.

The Surfrider
(2009, Oil, collage & Encaustic on wood panel)
Soul Surfer (2010)

Aglow Morocco (2010)

Kelia Rise, HI
(2012, Oil & encaustic collaborative collage with Tom Servais)

Shimmer (2009)

   And so, these pieces function as charms and insignias for people whose lives revolve around the surf. But the uses of these pieces go beyond that. They can be used as mementos for people who have moved inland, they can be used as meditative pieces to center a room around a particular mood, and of course they are art for the people who receive sustenance from the play between inspired line, shade,  figure, and color.

(2008, Oil, collage, India ink
& encaustic on wood panel)
(2008, Oil, collage & encaustic on wood panel)

Orange Peels
(2010, Oil, collage & encaustic on wood panel;
Ryan Burch photo by Kevin Roche)

Dragonfly (Rasto in Indo)
(2010, oil, collage, India ink, sand & encaustic on wood panel;
photo by Art Brewer)

Sweet Love
(2009, oil, collage, India ink & encaustic on wood panel)

   We are grateful to have witnessed these sublime visual essays, and we hope that you have been enriched by them as well. There are many more where they came from, as great if not greater. Just check Susan Wickstrand's website and shows to see for yourself. 
   Thank you, Susan. We pray that your summer be an eternal one!

[For more information on Susan Wickstrand and her work, feel free to visit her website at: susanwickstrand.com]

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