Along the Kami Way, encaustic photos
(work in progress)
Kami are the spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the ancient Japanese religion of Shinto. It is an animistic religion that incorporates elements of nature, animals, creationary forces in the universe, as well as spirits of the revered deceased.
In Shinto, kami are not separate from nature, but are of nature, possessing positive and negative, good and evil characteristics. They are manifestations of musubi, the interconnecting energy of the universe, and are considered exemplary of what humanity should strive towards. Kami are believed to be ”hidden” from this world, and inhabit a complementary existence that mirrors our own – shinkai (the world of the kami). To be in harmony with the awe inspiring aspects of nature is to be conscious of kannagara no michi (the way of the kami).
Though the word kami translates multiple ways into English, no one English word expresses its full meaning. Ambiguity in the meaning of kami is necessary, as it conveys the ambiguous nature of kami themselves.
In this series, the interpretive nature of the imagery is meant to be “‘read” as a cosmic message, in the sense of seeing an omen. These kinds of messages from the cosmos mark one’s path through life and guide us along the way with an intuitive connection to a greater whole.
This body of work is an experiment with the surface of a photograph. The surface of a photograph is an integral part of perceiving an image. Usually, the surface is something that the viewer tries to see through in a neutral way, such as with glass or a spray coating. It is something I always notice and try to look past the glare when appropriate. Here, I am trying to include the surface in the mark-making process as an expressive part of the image. In this manner, there is an awareness of the artwork as an object in itself. This !’objectness!( is apparent when the tactile qualities of the object become a part of the image.
Most of these images combine the encaustic-wax process with the photograph. Encaustic has a sensual quality that seduces one to want to touch the surface and has a very unique way of reflecting light that one can easily fall in love with. It is a process that cannot be controlled completely but can be guided and directed with practice. The focus and !’depth of field!( in the photograph are also effected by the thickness of the wax, giving it a very dreamlike quality. It!&s surface can be worked back into with encaustic oils and invites experimentation. In a few pieces, there is obvious carving back into the wax, adding yet another layer of mark making to the effect.