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Ancient medium resonates at TCC’s Visual Arts Center

Pictured above: detail from Rhapsody by artist Reni Gower

The exhibition “Heated Exchange: Contemporary Encaustics” will open at Tidewater Community College’s Visual Arts Center on July 8.

The opening reception will be July 13 at 7 p.m. Artist Reni Gower, a professor in the painting and printmaking department at Virginia Commonwealth University, will give an informal gallery talk preceding the reception at 6:30 p.m.

Events are free and open to the public. The exhibition, which has traveled coast to coast since 2012, continues through Aug. 30.

mixed media on panel artwork by Kim Bernard
Cymatics 2 by Kim Bernard

Encaustic, a hot wax painting technique, was practiced as far back as the 5th century B.C. by Greek artists who made portraits of their deceased and buried them with their mummified remains. The availability of portable electric tools revived the daunting, laborious process in the 20th century.

Curated by Gower, “Heated Exchange” features works by nine artists who use distinct approaches to the seductive surface, luminous color and ethereal image-layering unique to the encaustic medium.

As evidenced in “Heated Exchange,” the production of professional grade encaustic pigments in the 1990s provided yet another resurgence of the medium. While most historical references and techniques have been lost, the artists in this show have continued their exploration of scraping, burning, burnishing, incising, dipping, dyeing or pouring. The result is work infused with poetic beauty that releases the fragrant scent of honeyed beeswax.   

For information, call Shelley Brooks at 757-822-1878.