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Lia Rothstein

From "Cascade" series, archival pigment photographs mounted on wood panels with cold wax and oil paints, 24" x 48"

Photography Is Just The Beginning

Working with light projections, digital and hand drawing, encaustic waxes, oil paints and other media, Lia Rothstein is transforming her photographs into highly abstracted, texturally nuanced, intriguing works on handmade Japanese and other fine art papers. An exhibition of her latest artwork will be on view at the Aidron Duckworth Art Museum from June 13 to July 26.

This exhibition includes her most recent work, which Rothstein said represents a departure, to some extent, from what she has done before. She explained that she begins with light — reflected onto a wall from a skylight or window — captured in a photograph. Projecting that light onto an image, she can then add or subtract, by hand or in the computer, to reveal or conceal, using a variety of materials.

“I don’t like putting my photographs behind glass, so I started experimenting with different ways to create transparency and protection over the photographs,” Rothstein said. This desire led to her most recent medium, cold wax, applied to paper. The results — some in color, some in black and white — include serene geometrically abstract images that evoke architecture, with the look of torn paper, that are actually created using projected light. There are also active, nature-based pieces that begin with images of trees and ponds and use painterly, gestural marks in a way that evokes abstract expressionism.

Also planned for the exhibition is an installation piece in which photographs taken underwater are printed onto Japanese paper and manipulated with encaustic wax to create transparent colors reminiscent of stained glass. These are formed into boat-like shapes, hung from monofilament, and lit from both above and below. Rothstein said that the disorienting effect of the boats tipping and spinning on nearly invisible threads was inspired by a boating accident she experienced at the age of 13, when she nearly drowned before being pulled from the river. In fact, many of her images are inspired by water.

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