12 FOR OUR 12TH
STEPHANIE ROBERTS-CAMELLO: SURFACE TENSION
COTUIT CENTER FOR THE ARTS
4404 FALMOUTH ROAD (RT. 28)
THROUGH APRIL 21
by Flavia Cigliano
With her very first words discussing the encaustic paintings in her exhibit, “Surface Tension,” artist Stephanie Roberts-Camello immediately cited the appeal of experimentation. She is not intimidated by the unpredictability of experimentation — she actually seems to thrive on both the disquiet and the exhilaration it can bring on. Three series of works are represented in the exhibit: “Encaustic Shrouds,” “Free Forms” and “Missing Pieces.”
An established abstract oil painter, Roberts-Camello periodically worked with encaustics in the 1990s. Several years ago, she attended the International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, and it became a catalyst for her. “There were all these artists who were making breakthroughs with this medium. I was introduced to all sorts of aspects of encaustics. I really started to think about it more and more. It was through experimenting that my own work started to evolve,” she stated.
Encaustic painting, the combining of pigments to hot beeswax to produce luminous, multi-layered (often times sculptural) works, goes back over 2000 years. Its popularity has ebbed and flowed. Today, encaustic painting is increasingly popular with both representational and abstract painters.
In the winter of 2014-2015, the year of record snowfall in the Northeast, Roberts-Camello’s work took a serendipitous turn, adding her contribution to the two-millennia-old painting method. Housebound with all the snow, she began to rummage through old family letters she considered using as possible collage elements in her encaustic works. “I discovered letters my grandparents had written about their children during the 1930s and the ‘40s. They lived in Texas. It was during the Dust Bowl period of the Great Depression.”
The letters were filled with emotion, depicting the family’s struggles. “We all have personal struggles, obstacles that we have to face and overcome,” Roberts-Camello affirmed. She identified with the struggle and decided to incorporate the letters in her encaustic work, making them a central element in her paintings.