The Artist

Deborah Winiarski works with fabric and pigmented wax to create raised and textured relief surfaces that undulate across a picture plane. Her mixed-media relief paintings employ a variety of processes – printmaking, painting, drawing, sewing, and both direct and indirect mark making – in order to capture in stillness a movement in time. Winiarski’s visual language explores the relationships, contradictions and juxtapositions of light, shadow, color, line and edge.

Deborah Winiarski’s work has been exhibited at venues in New York City and across the United States and is included in numerous private collections. Most recently, her work was included in the group exhibition, ‘Waxing Poetic,’ at The Pelham Art Center, Pelham, New York.

Ms. Winiarski holds a BA and MS in education from Queens College, CUNY. She studied at The Art Students League of New York from 2003-2004 and has been an Instructor there since 2009. Deborah Winiarski lives and works in New York City.

The Work

Color, form and line expand beyond the painting surface in these recent mixed-media paintings. In these works, paper and fabric accrue to create raised and textured surfaces. Strips of fabric, paper and wax weave, twist, mingle, intertwine creating ‘visual fugues’ that literally break out of the picture plane. The torn and folded strips provide form, dimension and color; their edges, line.

My process is twofold as most color is achieved with pigmented fabrics and papers alone. Color, line and form develop on the fabric via an encaustic monotype process. Pigmented beeswax melts as it is applied to a heated plate. The fabric is laid upon the plate absorbing color and imagery – becoming one with the wax. The fabric is then torn, cut, sewn, crumpled and composed upon the painting surface. Collaged fabrics, papers threads add even more texture.

My intent for the composed space is that it be contrapuntal yet harmonious; grounded yet fragile; still but silently in motion.

Deborah Winiarski
New York City

Encaustic

In encaustic painting, molten beeswax is combined with a tempering agent – usually damar, a plant resin that gives the cooled surface strength – and then pigmented. This molten mixture, or encaustic medium, is applied to a painting surface and then fused, or remelted, so that it becomes one with the layers below. It is this build-up of layer upon layer of wax that gives encaustic work its luminosity.

Derived from the ancient Greek word 'enkaustikos,' encaustic means 'to heat' or 'to burn in.' It is an art form that can be traced back to 800 B.C. when Greek shipbuilders used pigmented wax to waterproof and decorate their warships. Ancient Greek artists also painted with pigmented wax on clay and marble sculptures and on flat panels.

The oldest existing examples of encaustic panel paintings are the Fayum Portraits dating back to Greco-Roman Egypt – 100 B.C. to 200 A.D. These life-sized head and shoulder images were painted on thin wooden panels. The portraits were later mounted on mummy casing which were then entombed. The hot, dry, dark tombs provided an environment ideal for preserving these paintings. Over 900 of these well-preserved portraits are housed in museums around the world – most of them discovered in the Faiyum Basin region of Egypt.