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In constructing sculptures of beeswax and uncarved wood, native trees of the south Texas borderlands, the integrity of the materials plays an important role. Carving and reshaping the wood to fit a preexisting vision would drain it of its vitality.  I therefore limit myself to peeling bark and trimming stray branches, while leaving the core of the piece intact. The wood, once living, shows evidence of its life in the twists and bends that it retains. Implicit in the sculpture is a sense of motion, the animate qualities that are obscured (to our impatient eyes) by the slow pace of a tree’s growth. In the work, forked branches resemble hooks, creating a sense of extension and retraction, a reflexive action. Beeswax broadens the narrow lines of the piece, its translucence drawing in light.


My encaustic drawings are similarly fluid, created automatically and allowed to evolve organically. Works executed in graphite, conté, and ink begin as amorphous and cloudlike before solidifying into forms more closely resembling branches, bones, or beaks. Sheets are overlaid one atop another, with beeswax poured on to make the vellum translucent, allowing unforeseen hybrid forms to arise. Images emerge spontaneously, rising to the fore or retreating into a fog of pollen. The drawn forms are left open, inviting the external space in, because  without some emptiness there is no potential, no space through which vital breaths may pass, into which animate forms may move and grow.


Scott Nicol

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