Hargrave’s encaustic work strives to combine biology and botany with imagery that isn’t overt per se but feels ultimately familiar. Her paintings incorporate a tendency to abstract organic forms, and in doing so, emphasize the direct correlation between subject matter and materials, as beeswax, resin and pigments are heated, layered and fused with a torch. By applying hundreds of thin layers, she can attain the transparency and luminosity that is possible with wax. She carves into the pieces with pottery tools and dental instruments, exploring varying line weights in the process. There is often tissue paper with quiet pencil lines drawn, burnished and layered into the wax, and more recently, she is using a fine powdered graphite to achieve desired details. She is also applying encaustic to hand formed porcelain structures which are combined using steel wire, crocheted cotton string or yarn. Hargrave approaches each piece without any pre-conceived idea; each painting grows naturally through the process of layering, decision making, eliminating, receding, assessing and at some point, knowing when to walk away. “I find beeswax inherently lovely, and work with it always mindful of how its natural beauty and transparency can coexist with my ideas and imagery.”
Hargrave has been painting and/or working in clay since college, where she studied color theory, ceramics, sculpture, drawing and painting, as well as creative writing. She started a line of functional ceramics as a small business in 1997 after studying with Carol Gouthro, and has worked with metal, oil paint, watercolor and acrylics over the years, but her medium of choice is beeswax. She learned a great deal studying with Jef Gunn and Larry Caulkins at Pratt Fine Arts Center, and later began co-teaching at Pratt (using wax as an element in sculptural collage) with Rickie Wolfe. She also teaches at NW Encaustic, various other venues, and from her studio.
Hargrave has shown her work in Seattle, Minneapolis, San Luis Obispo, Santa Fe, New York and Atlanta.
Her work is in several corporate collections, including Seattle’s Swedish Hospital, University House in Wallingford, the University of Washington Medical Center, Barclays International in Texas, Abri Hotel in San Francisco, the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, and Kaiser Permanente in Baltimore.
With her Shift Gallery colleagues, she was juried into the International Seattle Art Fair in August of both 2017 and 2018. She got back a week ago from an intensive 12-day artist residency program in Brooklyn that ended with an art show at the M. David & Co. Gallery.