Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Evolution of a Sculpture

I often begin a new work from a sketched design.  The lower design in this image from my sketch book was the inspiration for a new sculpture.

Beginning with a circular wire support, I created a 3 dimensional version of this sketched image.  The problem was that, to me, the actual sculpture didn't please me as much as the sketched image.  So it sat in the back of my studio waiting for a creative revelation. 

Then one day, as I studied this piece, I envisioned it "exploding" open, so I took an  knife to it and, leaving the circular wire armature intact, turned the single form into one that had five connecting sections.  This  alteration added interest and movement.  Hmmm, this certainly was a dramatic departure from the original sketch but it was a move in the right direction.

Knowing that this piece was not finished, I returned it to it's spot in the back of my studio.  I lived with this new form, manipulating these five appendages in many different  ways until I was sure that this wasn't what I ultimately wanted either!!  This time I got out the wire cutters and separated the sections from each other.

Persistence of Vision, 24"x24"x3"

After working with each section on it's own, I ultimately created a wall hung sculpture that consisted of 5 individual and unique works.  Persistence of Vision really was a deviation from the form I originally sketched!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blog Hop

I was invited by the talented artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills to participate in a "Blog Hop" in which I answer a few questions about myself and my work and introduce my readers to three creative blog-writing artists.  I met Bridgette when she lived in the Chicago-area.  We both were members of  FUSEDChicago, a group of Midwestern artists that use the encaustic medium in their artmaking.  Unfortunately for all of us in the Chicago-area, Bridgette and her lovely family recently moved to the East Coast.  Fortunately the internet has made the world a much smaller place, making moves like this one much easier and allowing for a continued sense of community.

Bridgette is an award-winning artist whose mixed media paintings communicate the inherent beauty of nature.  The multilayered surfaces of her canvases speak to both the visual and tactile senses. Her artwork has an ethereal, almost dream-like quality, incorporating a variety of materials including photography, oil paint, acrylic paint and encaustic.  Read her art journal blog to get a glimpse into the thoughts and processes involved in her artwork.  Contemplating The Moon - Bridgette Guerzon Mills' Blog.

Here are the answers to the questions that were asked of me for this blog hop project:

1) What am I working on/writing?

Currently I am working on new work for a solo show at Art on Armitage.   This entails an expansion on a number of encaustic and fiber sculptural ceiling and wall installations that I created for this past spring's exhibition "Spaces We Inhabit".  I am always creating new sculptures that are a reflection of my urban environment.  These works have been increasing in size with an inclination towards installations.  It is difficult to say what the nest year or two will bring as my work evolves as an expression of my experiences.
Concurrent to my studio practice,  I am a daily social media content creator for the group FUSEDChicago, writing about local art happenings and providing publicity for group members.  I also provide editorial support for and it's concurring local travel articles on

 2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
I work with materials such as wax and cheesecloth, wire and twine, that are familiar and accessible, but I use them in very unique and innovative ways.  I consider the textural aspect of these materials as I create my streamlined sculptural forms as a way to invite the viewer to approach each work and to visually explore the elements of color, shape and movement. My work considers elements of urban history and change as well as exploring the physical and mental boundaries of the public and private spaces we inhabit.

3) Why do I do what I do?

As a professional who has spent most of the past 20 years in a creative business position, an opportunity arose in 2008, allowing me the chance to become a full-time artist.   This opportunity permitted me to expand on my creative nature.  Spending hours in my studio keeps me sane.   It is extremely gratifying to turn an idea into something tangible.  To lose oneself in the process of creation is a personally rewarding and satisfying experience.

4) How does my writing/working process work?   

How do I describe my creative practice?  There are routine and intuitive processes within each day.   I am never without my sketch book.  In it I jot down inspirational images or ideas.  I sketch sculptural forms than may or may not become reality.  I always step into the studio with an idea in mind but that usually evolves. The majority of my time is spent in my studio creating.  I spend a number of hours each day on-line attending to the business of art;  Photoshop, website maintenance,  addressing social media needs, networking with artists and educating myself on the art world.  Occasionally I will pull up my inspiration file to get a shot in the arm of just that; inspiration.  Outside of the studio, I attend local art events and exhibitions. 

Since I became friends with Bridgette Guerzon Mills, the artist who invited me to participate in this Blog Hop, through FUSEDChicago, it was a no-brainer that I make this an all-Fused event by inviting FUSEDChicago members and so I would like introduce the following three creative blog-writing artists. 


After twenty-five years on the east coast, Robin has returned  to Chicago.  She has gleaned much inspiration from her new home as is evidenced in her work.  While I am drawn to her images of Chicago, her new monotypes are really stunning!  Robin is currently the Featured Artist on the FUSEDChicago website. FUSEDChicago Featured Artist.  

"I am inspired to create a balance between what I see and what I feel. Golden hues of autumn leaves at North Pond, the ominous Gothic shadows standing in front of the Wrigley building, or the silver reflections from a fresh snow in streetlight on Broadway Street, evoke feelings that exist forever in my mind. The vintage buildings along Lake Shore Drive remind me of my childhood and the many visits and family dinners at my grandparent’s apartment. I paint the brownstones and skyscrapers surrounded by foliage and perennials and re-discover contentment and warmth from my past. Having spent 25 years in New England, a move back to Chicago last June has shifted my artistic focus from rural landscape to urban surroundings and cityscape."            Robin Samiljan Art Blog


Maike and I have shown together in many FUSEDChicago group shows.  Her art is an expression of the joy and gratitude she finds in everyday life.  I am especially drawn to her line of jewelry with it's design of simple movement of line and form.
"Maike van Wijk creates wall collages incorporating her love of nature, found objects, photography, words, rubber stamps and encaustics. She also creates steel wire jewelry, Maraviglia,  incorporating waxed paper, vintage ephemera and decorative wire. Her art is an expression of the joy and gratitude she finds in everyday living, with an aim to share that tranquility with others. 
Maike launched Maike’s Marvels in 2011 to focus on the artistic and creative life full time. Exploring the local art world has been a joy and revelation of creativity, support and inspiration. Maike’s collage work has been in the Evanston Art Center’s Biennial Member Show, Lincoln Park’s Artrageous events, and group exhibits including some curated by FUSEDChicago. Her creations are available for sale on Etsy (Maike's Etsy Shop) and at Aurora Rose Boutique in Lemont.  With roots in The Netherlands and Germany, Maike is trilingual and enjoys incorporating cultural memories and linguistic quirks into her work. She currently resides in Evanston, IL."  Maike Van Wijk's Blog


Ahavani is an award-winning artist and teacher.  Her paintings are meditative and contemplative.  I am fascinated with her intuitive process as it is so different from my own.  I am happy to include her in this Blog Hop event. 

"My works have evolved from silence.  Embracing stillness and reverence, this extends from the work's germination as a seed, through its progression to a fully blossomed piece.  The imagery I create is intended to be experimental, using color as a vehicle for a moment of contemplation.  I have exhibited  nationally and was recently awarded a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.  I will be featured in the next issue of Studio Visit magazine and my next solo exhibition will be at South Suburban College in South Holland, Illinois.  I live in Chicago and work out of my studio in the Logan Square neighborhood." 


Be sure to check out Robin, Maike and Ahavani's blogs next Saturday, August 16, 2014 to learn more about their work, see the answers to their Blog Hop questions and meet the creative individuals they have invited to participate in this unique event.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Award of Recognition

I am pleased to follow up my last post with this announcement that my encaustic and fiber sculpture  "Passages" received an Award of Recognition in the 70th Annual (WVE) Wabash Valley Juried Exhibition at The Swope Art Museum.


Juror Carter E. Foster, the Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawings at the Whitney Museum of American Art, wrote this statement for the exhibition program.

"Surrealism is alive and well.  Whether through startling disjunctions of scale, eerie elimination of detail, strange juxtapositions or simply playful twists on observed reality, many of the artists I chose for this year's exhibition find endless richness in tinkering with the world while remaining fully part of it, without resorting to abstraction.  Some mined their psyches or that of an imagined other quite playfully and optimistically, without the darker undercurrents often common in this type of work.  On the other hand, the terror of the mind's unknown or blacker recesses was not feared at all by others.  Art has the privilege of distance bringing even the unspeakable to our protected selves.

Surrealism is alive here in painting in particular, though some of the most intriguing examples are three-dimensions, with a fetishistic, reliquary-like quality that is appealing and original.

Painting's elasticity and durability was also a strong constant.  I was thrilled to see such a thriving community of oil painters.  The medium's demise is always overstated-flexibility and practically means that once one masters its technical basics, endless interesting riffs are possible, and there was no shortage of that among the rich trove of image types submitted to this exhibition.  The long tradition of exploring pictorial space and finding a tension between flatness and depth is richly apparent and beautifully mined with much variety.

It was heartening in general to find an interest in mastering the craft of making, whatever the medium.  Ceramics is clearly having it's moment in Indiana as with the rest of the world-it seems to be thriving everywhere these days, laudably so.  I also enjoyed seeing certain artists push the use of language and the body, a mini-theme for this show.

In a world truly saturated with images, in which the image seems to be overtaking and ruling so many aspects of our daily lives, and over which we seem to have less and less control, even while gaining more and more access, it is a real pleasure to find those who are willing to take control themselves and use imagination fearlessly and with great confidence."

The exhibition runs from June 28-August 23, 2014.
Swope Art Museum 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Exhibition

With much of my time spent creating new works, I have expended little energy on submitting to summer exhibitions.  The Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana has had an annual exhibition for the past 69 years.  The 70th Annual Wabash Valley Juried Exhibition includes the work of artists residing in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.


This year's exhibition was jurored by Carter E. Foster, the Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawings at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  The opportunity to position my work in front of this jurors eyes was all the motivation I needed to find the time to submit to this show.

Unfulfilled Dream

I entered three encaustic and fiber sculptures;
"Unfulfilled Dream", "Passages" and "Living Together-But-Separate Lives".
The first two were chosen and included in this exhibition. 

Living Together-But-Separate Lives

The exhibition runs from June 28-August 23, 2014.

Swope Art Museum

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spaces We Inhabit part two

In my last post I talked about my preparation for the exhibit "Spaces We Inhabit" and the two sculptural installations I created for this show.  This post is a collection of images from the exhibition.  

"Spaces We Inhabit" at the Hairpin Arts Center, Chicago.

Me with my installation Spaces We Inhabit.  It consisted of 7 ceiling-hung columns, each 15' long.  The cubes themselves vary in size from 1.5"x1.5"x1.5" to 4.5"x4.5"x4.5".

Infinite Possibilities on the wall to the left.  The Power of Place and Make No Little Plans on pedestals.  On the wall - two paintings by Mary Zeran between two paintings by Emily Rutledge.

Moving Day on the wall to the left, Place on the pedestal, paintings by Emily Rutledge on the wall and a peek of my installation Spaces We Inhabit between the wall and column.

Emily Rutledge (left) and Mary Zeran.

The 7 columns of Spaces We Inhabit .

A detail shot of Spaces We Inhabit.

This side of the display walls are viewable from the street and include three paintings in the foreground by Emily Rutledge and a painting by Mary Zeran.  Two columns of Spaces We Inhabit are visible at the end.

Make No Little Plans on the pedestal and Infinite Possibilities on the wall in the background.

The artists of "Spaces We Inhabit" - myself, Mary Zeran and Emily Rutledge.

Four of my sculptures were displayed on pedestals.



     The Power of Place

Make No Little Plans

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spaces We Inhabit

Back in November of 2013, artists Mary Zeran and Emily Rutledge approached me with the idea of putting together a proposal for an exhibition of our work.  What evolved was “Spaces We Inhabit: Sculptures and Paintings by Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Emily Rutledge and Mary Zeran” at the Hairpin Arts Center in Chicago.  I was familiar with Hairpin having exhibited my encaustic and fiber Vessels in the center’s inaugural exhibition “Come Together”.  
Vessel 12, Vessel 14, Vessel 20 on shelves to the right.
Mary Ellen Croteau's work to the left
Come Together, Hairpin Arts Center
It is a beautiful light-filled windowed space situated in a historical building in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. In my last blog post "Winter Exhibition News" I mused about turning a new wall hanging sculpture, “Place”, into a multi-piece installation.
100+ feet of cotton rope for my ceiling hung sculpture, Spaces We Inhabit

My vision of the a multi-columned hanging sculpture was just the challenging project that would amply fill the long cold Chicago winter days.  And this is how my ceiling hung installation “Spaces We Inhabit”, named after the exhibit that inspired its creation, came to be.  In addition, I wanted to create a wall installation of 25 unique cubes.  Each cube began with a 3.5”x3.5”3.5” wooden cube form.  The materials for the cubes ranged from encaustic to fiber to paper, twine and wire. 
Cubes, in progress, for Infinite Possibilities
I entitled this work “Infinite Possibilities” as each cubes’ unique design stemmed from paintings and sculpture that I had made in the past.  The small size of my studio, which would likely be described as “cozy” in the real estate world, slowly shrank as each column and cube was completed. 
Pile of columns!
Detail of columns of
Places We Inhabit
As the drop off date for the exhibition approached I began to ask myself if I had bitten off more than I could chew with the decision to create two new large-scale sculptural installation works!  My initial plan to create 7, 15” columns was achieved but “Infinite Possibilities” shrank to 15 cubes.  While the final number of cubes made my plan of a grid-design impossible, I was very happy with the resulting asymmetrical installation.

“Spaces We Inhabit: Sculptures and Paintings by Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Emily Rutledge and Mary Zeran” at the Hairpin Arts Center, Logan Square, Chicago.  May 9-June 8, 2014
 Opening Reception: Friday, May 9th, 6-9pm

Monday, December 2, 2013

Winter Exhibition News

Place (detail)
I’m sending two of my newest sculptures to Florida this month.  I am especially pleased that both were accepted as it was the first time I had submitted either for an exhibition.  Place is the largest work I have created to date, measuring 6’7”, twice that if it is laid out from end to end.  I plan to pursue Place as a series that will be hung as a multi-piece installation.


 encaustic, cheesecloth, cotton cord, foam  

Passages has been a work in progress.  I made the base last year and it sat off to the side in my studio waiting for inspiration.  Over time this base changed shape until I came upon the decidedly boat-like form it is today.  It then returned again to that “place of contemplation” off to the side in my studio until one day I spied the roll of copper wire I had in a container of wire and cords.  I really like the combination of metal with wax and fiber.  The small sections of copper wire impale the smooth waxed surface of the form bringing a menacing sense to this simple, still and serene form.  This certainly might be my love-hate relationship with water coming out.  Nothing would make me happier than to sit on the porch of a beach house looking and listening to the ocean all day but you would be hard pressed to get me in that same water.
Passages (detail)
Place and Passages are both included in "Big Bad Wax" at the Mount Dora Center for the Arts in Mount Dora, Florida.  This national juried encaustic exhibition was juried by Kim Bernard and Susan Loden.  This exhibition runs January 10 – March 2, 2014.  The opening reception is January 10, 2014, 6-8pm. 

encaustic, cheesecloth, copper wire

As many of you know, I am a member of FUSEDChicago, a group of Chicago area artists using the encaustic medium.   One of our missions is to advance public awareness of encaustic art through exhibitions of member work.   This is a group of extremely talented artists and so the many group exhibitions that have been held have been truly excellent events.
               Make No Little Plans    
9”x9” cube
encaustic, cheesecloth on wood panels  

I am happy that Make No Little Plans is included in the next FUSEDChicago group exhibition, “Fused” held at the Union Street Gallery in Chicago Heights, Illinois.  The show is curated by  Jessica Segal and will run from January 15 – February 8, 2014.  The opening reception is January 17, 2014.

Holiday wishes to everyone and many thanks for your support!