Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Spotlight On: Elyse Wyman

Elyse Wyman, I'llGetForget, Encaustic, 24 x 18"
Veil of Fog

These Encaustic paintings are a visual (as well as visceral) response to the free verse poetry my mother expressed in the final years preceding her death from Alzheimer’s Disease. As she was in excellent physical condition, she survived (for better or worse) for many years after she started exhibiting signs of cognitive impairment. My mother and her sister were beautiful dancers and actresses in movie musicals as well as on stage. They were loving sisters who married best friends, built houses next door to each other, and raised their children in a lively communal atmosphere. My mother was very intelligent, well-spoken, outgoing and amazingly kind.
Elyse Wyman, Right to Almost, Encaustic mixed media, 8 x 8"
I believe my mother’s words and thoughts provide some insight into her struggle to communicate despite the unraveling of her brain. I continue to discover in them a wide range of feelings; anger, fear, humor, impatience, love and other emotions she could no longer express in a conventional manner. These paintings are a direct unfiltered response to each individual poem. I began by writing my mother’s poem on the blank surface of the canvas. I then applied layers of encaustic paint over the words, often scraping back into the layers to allow some of the poem to emerge. Sometimes the entire surface ended up covered with paint and only faint references to the written word are visible. 
Elyse Wyman, Pitcher In My Fate, Encaustic, 12 x 10"
This direct painted response was analogous to the way my mother was relating to the world at that time. The paintings are emotional responses to a difficult time in both our lives. They reflect elements of both the child and the mother and the reversal of roles as we grow older. The plaques and tangles of the disease were like layers of webs and veils obscuring her ability to think clearly. She referred to this as living in a “veil of fog.” She didn’t remember the immediate past, and had no concept of the future, and therefore seemed to exist entirely in the present. I tried to make my paintings reflect that. It was liberating to allow the paint to flow in an immediate response to her words, creating a direct dialogue with not only the poem, but with each painting in progress.
Elyse Wyman, Just to Listen, Encaustic, 24 x 18"
On June 19th 7-9pm, TAG is hosting a benefit for the Southern California Alzheimer’s Association Event “The Longest Day" at the gallery. There will be a poetry reading by Maray Ayres and Ann Ryerson Hall, and Ellen Woo PhD, Director of Neuropsychology and Co-Assistant Director for the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Research at UCLA will discuss the poetry of Elyse's mother as it relates to the disease. Wine and cheese will be served.
RSVP: EWLongestDay@gmail.com
$20 donation at the door 

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