Prototypes of Dirty Laundry - Installation view

Wax and Tar Casts

Sculptures resembling lava, magma or obsidian
1 shows: exhibition history

These wax and tar casts result from experimental studio-work with micro-crystalline, paraffin, beeswax, tar and textiles. They are based and defined by the geometrical footprints of their molds, but their surfaces mutate into organic compositions that might remind of lava, magma or obsidian.

[...] As the title suggests, these works are prototypical wax-encased fabric pieces transmuted in meaning and substance by the presence of tar. The alchemical process of making is elaborate: each second-hand garment is worn once, then soaked in tar. Once dry, the dresses, skirts, and blouses are pushed through a layer of molten wax, which immediately releases the blackness of the tar into the liquid paraffin. Paradoxically, this reaction creates a hue that uncannily resembles the natural color of beeswax, inviting us in to beeswax’s connotation of purity and well being. The final sculptural castings evoke natural formations—caves with waxen stalagmites and stalactites, or the complex underwater microcosms of coral reefs.

The title of the work, Prototypes for Dirty Laundry, draws a direct line between the naturally occurring tar sands that are the accidental graveyards and preservation medium for prehistoric animal life, to contemporary fossil-fuel dependent civilization in all its toxicity. The artist’s 2018 visit to the La Brea tar pits in California directly inspired this experimentation with tar. Paraffin, with its snowy whiteness, is a less overtly toxic but similarly refined petroleum product, no less ubiquitous.[...]

Beth Kapusta, 2020