Chicago Creative Uses Ancient Methods To Create Works Of Art


Abstract encaustic artwork depicting stacked ovals in shades of blue.

Photo: Courtesy Marissa Voytenko

As a lover of history, it’s no surprise that artist Marissa Voytenko is enamored with the medium of encaustic.

With roots in ancient Greece, encaustic is made from a combination of beeswax, resin and pigment. The effect leaves a waxy surface that can be polished to a smooth, glassy texture, mimicking that of glazed tiles.

“I learned about encaustic in graduate school via the works of Hiro Yokose and Joanne Mattera, but it wasn’t until after graduation that I began experimenting with the medium,” Voytenko says.

Using a flat brush made of sheep hair, she applies layer after layer of encaustic to wood panels before fusing them all together with a blow torch. She then reaches for a stylus to etch lines and other details into the wax, particularly grids and various shapes that give her paintings a meditative quality.

“My work is informed by the geometric abstraction movement as well as architecture, both ancient and modern,” the artist says. “I am interested in bringing these influences together by presenting images that are difficult to categorize as belonging to any one era.”