Miranda is having a show tonight at Jonathan Ferrara, on Carondelet. I helped her lug all the work down for it; it looks great! She works with specially developed, original photo negatives, sun-exposed photos of different subjects and surrounds them in encaustic -which is beeswax mixed with oil pigment and damar crystals. I was working with melted crayon before she showed me the technique.
Review from The Times Picayune:
With her first show, Miranda Lake paints herself into the pantheon of promising N.O. artists
By Doug MacCash Art critic
Once in a rare while a rookie baseball player hits a home run his very first time at bat in the big leagues. Figuratively speaking, that's just what 34-year-old New Orleans artist Miranda Lake has done with "Elysian Fields," her excellent debut solo exhibition of encaustic (colored bees wax) paintings at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery.
The title refers to the idyllic ancient Greek version of heaven, with its glowing landscape and perfumed air. But Lake's vision of the Elysian Fields is much harsher and stranger, including stark black-and-white photos floating in frozen surrealistic deserts or atop cold wind-blown seas. The few trees are coated with human eyes. Raindrops seem to be falling upward. Gaps between ocean waves reveal patches of road map. Strange diagrams -- a hybrid of Egyptian hieroglyphics and chemistry-class schematics -- float across the horizon. Fish vertebrae hover in the sky. It's an odd, lonely place, made sadder and more mysterious by the puddles and droplets of translucent gray, pale blue and brown wax that coat everything like a light snowfall.
Lake's use of wax paint to depict the afterlife is no accident. As she learned studying encaustic technique at the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Colorado last year, the Egyptians used colored wax to create funeral portraits 2,500 years ago -- and many survive to this day. In a recent phone conversation she pointed out that she's begun applying that funereal-art tradition to her own family. Childhood photos of her late father and late brother appear in many of her new works.
"Primarily I'm working with family photos," she said, "so I guess the work is fairly personal, but it has universal appeal I hope. There are archetypical images of childhood and growing. I'm trying to figure out some of the choices made by people in my family. If they knew how their lives were going to turn out, how would they have lived their lives differently. I think there's a sense of fate or destiny in some of these pictures."
There certainly is a sense of destiny in the pictures. Lake, who says she's only painted seriously for one year, is destined to be among the best of the generation of young artists making the Crescent City art scene so vivid and vital.