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Margaret Fletcher Presents Solo Exhibition at Moon Gallery

Margaret Fletcher, faculty in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, has presented OCUS 10, a solo exhibition of new works at the Moon Gallery of Berry College. OCUS 10 further incorporates Fletcher’s investigations into spatial culture and communicative relationships related to time and distance through the material practice of works on paper, encaustic, dry transfer and glasswork and bridges art and architecture to study these relationships. The work is physically about surface and space exploring visual depth and conceptually about abstract communication. Fletcher uses a varied palette to describe what she calls “the swarming and flocking of a variety of spatial systems.”

Renew Opelika Road ProjectWhen asked the simple question of why she made this work, Fletcher laughed and said, “I wish I could honestly answer that question. It is not always easy to understand why we make the things we make. I find myself working toward a muddy visualization that exists only in my mind. That’s the beauty of making art; you can attack the same problem from a wide variety of positions—hange the medium—change the scale—shift the focus slightly. In that way, the process of making art is a lot like the process of making architecture—in the sense that it is a highly iterative process. The difference with art is that the work all along the way becomes the final outcome. It is this layering of varied ideas presented together that conveys your intent.”

Renew Opelika Road ProjectFletcher has been practicing art for ten years and has always practiced some form of art and architecture simultaneously. She says she gets inspiration from both rigidity and happenstance—a notion born through her many years in the practice of architecture.

The work in OCUS 10 further explores the visual nuances she has been working on for the past several years.  The encaustic surfaces are intended to read as very soft yet rigid, an effect gained through the careful application of up to eight layers of wax, each one fused to the previous with the use of an iron. It is this specific fusing technique that liquefies and almost instantly solidifies these surfaces that reveals the dichotomous surface. The encaustic pieces are then left to bloom—the chemical reaction that occurs when the wax is repeatedly heated and cooled—and a soft, milky surface emerges. Other artists work diligently to remove the bloom; Fletcher, however, uses the bloom to her advantage and feels that the soft quality of the bloom finish works well with the thin, rigid surface left behind by her ironing/fusing technique.

Renew Opelika Road ProjectFletcher uses dry transfer letters, the stuff of an architect’s arsenal from years ago, and imbeds these letter-forms in multi-layers of wax. The letter-forms are smaller than an ant and are very fragile. Fletcher says, “the visual struggle with the letters is that they break if they touch one another so achieving a visual depth is particularly complex unless you can figure out a way to layer them. That’s how the encaustic work started—the layers of wax allow for this and achieve the visual depth.”

As described by Catherine Fox in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “The letters are fixed, like insects in amber, by layers of milky, translucent encaustic (wax), sometimes infused with an aqueous blue-green. Her application is so extremely thin and smooth that it makes other encaustic paintings look vulgar.”

Margaret Fletcher is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at Auburn.

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