The Wax Studies of Natalie Abrams
I can hardly think of a better material with which to express the fragile diversity of natural ecosystems than wax. It's a common yet incredibly flexible medium that allows for an almost infinite range of colors with a tactile quality unlike any other material. Its place in art is historically its use in encaustic or as a modeling material, a kind of sculptural sketch medium that imbues it with a sort of unfinished quality. It's lumpy and yet malleable enough that a bit of heat can return it to a liquid state. In Natalie Abrams's marvelous wax sculptures, the artist does not try to hide the fact that it is wax so much as elevate the material to a refined level of beautiful delicacy.
All of the works I chose for this post are from a series called 'Reef Studies,' the title of which instantly weaves together concepts of fragility, biodiversity, and the threat to ecosystems such as the shrinking Great Barrier Reef. Abrams is interested in the relationships that develop in nature and how humans and the urban environment relate to one another, as well as how ecosystems are endangered and the natural world is threatened by climate change and urban development.
She manages to capture the essential beauty and raw, natural energy of the diverse and beautiful life of the sea floor, abstracted on simple backgrounds of blonde wood panel. 'Playful organic structures break down to reveal their fragile underpinnings of a system in flux.'¹ The wax specimens seem to spread and try to grip the surfaces as well as they can, trying to keep their hold.
Visit nataliabramsartworks.com for further examples of her work as well as information on upcoming shows, her blog, and additional projects.