Beeswax art exhibit adds unique flair

Patrick Bowden Reporter

Often, when people think of art contained in art museums they think of paintings created with paintbrush and paint hanging on the wall. This is not always the case — the South Dakota Art Museum is currently housing paintings created with beeswax.

“I’ve already had a lot of people ask to see the [beeswax] exhibits and they’ve all been impressed by it,” said Museum Store Manager Pam Adler. “People really enjoy the variety of art out here and are interested in coming to see it.”

Aside from attracting tourists and students to the west side of campus, these paintings offer alternative to traditional art. The paintings stray from the traditional brush-and-paint method, and use a very unique technique that was originated here in South Dakota. This process, originally created by an artist from Sioux Falls, takes 2D art to the next level by catching the observers eye and letting them feast on a multi-layer masterpiece. 

“The artist who originally did this has ties to ceramics and vessel forms, but this specific process molds the best of both worlds together,” said Coordinator of Exhibitions Jodi Lundgren. “All of the pieces of art out here, though, are different and unique because they use the interplay of mark making and intuitive processes that makes them all distinct.”

The artist of the beeswax pieces on display at SDSU, Linda Ackland-Kolb, layers the beeswax onto the canvas first, followed by pastel and other paints that are scratched onto the surface.

“My earlier work consisted of colored pencil and mixed media and although I was blending color in various ways, I had the growing desire to mix color in a more painterly way,” Kolb said. 

How the painting catch ones eye, however, is a separate part of the equation that Kolb has been using in her work. 

“The materials I use are meant to an extra vitality within each piece. Wax and pastel present unusual visual relationships and produce inventive and personalized artwork,” Kolb said.

People perceive artwork differently, and in this light the multiple layers can create an even larger range of critique starting with what one first notices all the way to what the hidden message is behind the piece. 

“Artists will grind up mica and mix it into the paints and beeswax, which creates a glitter effect on the paintings,” Lundgren said. “The mica, along with other soutanes, create a physical texture to the artwork.”

Being an in-state art form, these beeswax paintings appeal to many from the Midwest, and even more from an attraction-radius standpoint. Bringing in exhibits such as this offers an opportunity for the artists on display and the museum itself, while preserving and furthering the art programs here at the school.

“Our Harvey Dunn collection attracts people from all over the US – not just the Midwest or Brookings area,” Lundgren said. “We at the South Dakota Art Museum are here to preserve South Dakota artwork and keep it going for the future.”