"How to turn a relative into an ancestor? was the question I had in mind. The very process – getting rid of the rot – revealed a new essence."
Does the idea of transformation influence your work and process?
In Totems, the materials themselves go through a transformation. I wanted to create totemic forms invoking the heritages of artists I had come to know. I found four large planks of wood in a dilapidated farmhouse. They were still strong but had begun to decay. After scraping out what had rotted, I discovered that what was left was a unique inherent form. On each piece, I painted an image of a relative from the artists that I wanted to represent. “How to turn a relative into an ancestor?” was the question I had in mind. The very process – getting rid of the rot – revealed a new essence.
What draws you to the medium you chose? And tell us a little about your process.
The medium and process I used had many layers. Initially, I carved scavenged wood, then sculpted the pieces with a torch to create forms. With melted wax, I painted individual figures using an encaustic technique. Gold and copper leaf were then applied. Finally, I burnished knots and threads of the wood.
What are the strengths of the medium? What are the challenges?
Encaustic was developed in Ancient Greece and used extensively 2000 years ago in Egypt to create life-like portraits, placed on sarcophagi. Encaustic means burning in. The technique involves painting with a mixture of melted beeswax, pigment, and resin. Once the liquid hardens, the paint must once again be “burned in” with heat. This gives it a more permanent connection to the surface. Working in this medium is very lively and reveals unexpected surprises.
Totems Original, one of a kind work of art by Michal Sagar encaustic with gold and copper leaf on wood 72" x 48" x 2