Finally Catching Up / by Hayden Michelle


  As I am taking stock of how much has transpired in the last several months, it feels great to be wrapping up a bit of review.  In the midst of trying to get our feet back on the ground after the fire, as well as preparing for the "Turn Up the Heat" exhibit at the MS Rezny Gallery in Lexington (which closes this Friday!), I received an invitation from fellow artist and friend, Kathleen O'Brien, to apply for submission into the "Kentucky Visions at the Capitol:  Fifty/50" exhibit.  The KY Art Council is celebrating 50 years of supporting the arts in KY by showcasing 50 artists who have either been KY Crafted artists or Al Smith Fellowship recipients (Kathleen has been both!) in the past 50 years, as well as 50 new artists, nominated by those already involved in the KY Art Council in the previous half a century (doesn't that sound dramatic?... I could not write the number "50" one more time in the same sentence :)) .  I am honored to exhibit with Kathleen and the other 98 artists, and so happy to be accepted into this show.  In it, the KY Art Council is honoring the past, as well as anticipating what will evolve in the next 50 years in the Council.  This exhibit is showcased in the Kentucky Capitol Annex, Frankfort, KY.  It will run for the duration of the legislative session, and opened on January 5, 2016, and will continue until April 22, 2016.  

Sadly, I was not able to attend Arts Day at the capitol, on January 20, due to snow, which kept us snuggled up at home on the top of a very long hill. Kathleen had 2 pieces accepted, as did I, and here are pictures of my pieces below.  You can see an album of the 100 pieces in the show at this link to the KY Art Council page.

"While the Sun Was Rising" , encaustic, photography, pigment

"While the Sun Was Rising", encaustic, photography, pigment

This piece was made from a photograph that I took one morning while doing yoga during a clear and still sunrise.  Out of nowhere, a massive series of storm clouds appeared from the north, and I was completely taken in by what evolved in the next 20 minutes.  The sky changed in such rapid fashion that I could think of nothing else, and was drawn into the power of nature, and of its force and ability to overtake any moment.  Although a funnel cloud developed and started to drop down shortly after this picture was taken, it was quickly reabsorbed into the surrounding configurations.  I felt such gratitude to witness to this breath-taking beauty, as well as to be safe.  I pondered how nature mirrors our own lives, which can change on a dime, and how we can use these metaphors for inspiration, validation, and comfort when our own circumstances need balancing.  

The photograph was mounted to a panel, covered with multiple layers of wax, and then further interpreted through many drawn layers of powdered pigment/Pan Pastels, which were fused between applications.  As I worked on it, I thought of the many who have been affected by intense weather (literal and figurative), and how I wished for sunrise to come once again for them as they find various ways to recover.  I am so grateful for the practice of art, which enables such contemplative practice...


"Seasons of Life" ,  encaustic, macro photography, pigment

"Seasons of Life",  encaustic, macro photography, pigment

This is the largest piece I have yet made, and the first in which I incorporated encaustic sculpture into a 2D panel.  I worked with collaging multiple images of my macro photography, coating them all with many layers of encaustic, hand-coloring them, carving relief work, and then fusing them into the overall composition.  The pinecone, tree, chrysalis, and butterfly weed all protude out of the panel in many directions, adding a new depth of interest.   This idea struck me well into the making of the piece, making it very challenging, as I had to take a razor blade to composition that was already fused down, and remove it in order to sculpt it and fuse again.  At some point, I had to stop myself from excising each image in the collage, realizing that enough was enough :).  That is the nature of experimentation and progression with any piece, eh?  It is always hard for me to stop, knowing that a work is ready to come to a resting place.  

  The symbolism in the piece is salient for me, as I am reflecting on the many stages of my own life right now while raising our 2 boys, witnessing my mother continue to decline with her Alzheimer's, and taking stock of the many stages in life related to letting go, bringing in new energy, and incubating that which is yet to come.  Time seems to be going by so quickly, and I am reminded by the stillness of the butterflies in this image to be present for what is happening in each moment as often as I can remember, while trusting that new growth continues to develop all the while.


  A couple of other new pieces I have been working on are below, and I wanted to share them while I am catching up in this post...

"Potential Awaits" , macro photography, encaustic, pigment

"Potential Awaits", macro photography, encaustic, pigment

This is the second panel piece I made which incorporates sculptural work, and this time, it was planned from the beginning :).  There is much detail drawn into the opening buds with colored pencil, and the background was covered with almost 1/4" of beeswax (that is a lot of layers!), and then hand-carved in an organic and intensive process.  I love carving this way, even though my wrists do not! The ensuing lines remind me very much of wood-cuts, of which I have always had an affinity.  I am always moved by elements in a piece that show the journey of the making.  It reminds me of how our lives unfold, and how we travel many different paths that lead to who we are, uniting to make us more whole and deep.  The buds were taken in late February of last year, at a wonderful nature preserve in Berea, KY, Anglin Falls, which is one very magical place...

"Sacred" , encaustic, macro photography, pigment

"Sacred", encaustic, macro photography, pigment

Detail of "Sacred "... it is difficult to see in the previous image, and has such a luminous quality up close...

Detail of "Sacred"... it is difficult to see in the previous image, and has such a luminous quality up close...

This was the first experimentation with hand-carving the background.  I love the flow which emerges as the carving unfolds, as it seemed like a good background for such a frozen moment in time.  I found this luna moth in my driveway one morning after an early pre-dawn run, outlined by the soft light of the street lamp.  I was surprised she was still there, not having been consumed by the night creatures that often use the lure of light which draws many winged ones in the dark of night.  The luna is such a divine-looking moth, and I am always reminded of the fleeting beauty in life when I come upon them, as they live for only 5 days. It makes me reflect on how I would live if I knew that was the amount of time I had to exist on this plane.   I so appreciate that photography exists to enable the preservation of these moments and experiences in time.


  Well, if you are still with me in this long post, congratulations :).  I feel so happy to be able to complete this re-cap, as it has been a long time in the making (thus, the long post!).   Stay tuned for an entry on the opening for "Turn Up the Heat", which is waiting in the eaves for wifi availability tomorrow, so that I can upload a large photo album.  And now to sit and breathe and enjoy the heavily falling snow...