Willa Vennema|Substratum

The Boat Series has been ongoing now for 10 years or so, and was first sparked by my encounter with old fishing dories drawn ashore near one of my favorite painting places on Swans Island. The olden dory boat is a metaphor for many things, often contradictory in nature: the passage of time/eternity, home/adventure, stillness/movement, work/leisure, containment/ release. Using encaustic paint, I employ a variety of techniques to enliven the painted surface and capture the feel of the luminous, shifting light and reflective waters of the Maine coast. The dory boat shape is then carved into the paint, and finds its home in the colorful richly layered encaustic atmosphere. The Layers of Time series, followed by The Circular Nature of Chaos and Order series, are both abstract series which employ the collage of book page circle shapes within the encaustic paint. While visually quite different from the Boat Series, these series also investigate the concepts of time passing, and the concurrence of contradictory states of being. Like the archetypal dory, the circle shape evokes a whole world of mystery and meaning for me. In the Layers of Time series, I chose books that have had meaning to me in my life for repurposing in my art. Some were books read to me by my parents, others I read to my children. By fashioning circle shapes from these book pages, and by contemplating the universality of this shape, which can represent our earth, the cosmos, and the life cycle, I felt connected to those I love, and part of the circle of time. The Layers of Time series evolved into the Circular Nature of Chaos and Order series. So far there are 9 works in In this series, each a polyptych of four 8” x 8” panels. In each group, two of the panels contain circle shapes in a “chaotic” configuration, and two with an “ordered” configuration. In our lives we see the juxtaposition of chaos and order all the time, often without taking the time to appreciate it. As we walk through a forest, the trees and leaves look all jumbled, but when we get up close and investigate, everything has its own internal order, such as the veins on a leaf, the striation of bark on a tree, or seeds nestled and overlapped in a milkweed pod. The seeds in a milk weed pod are exquisitely arranged in their pod, but when the pod dries and opens, the seeds float off, dispersing randomly into the air. There is a shocking beauty in this concurrence of chaos and order that is quite inspiring, and I have worked to develop my own artistic language to respond to, and honor it.