Shoshannah White

For Shoshannah White, a summer job as a teaching assistant at the Maine Media Workshops and College turned into a permanent relocation. “I am excited about Maine’s landscape and the long line of artists who have equally fallen for the mystique of its coastline,” she explains. “I also love that there are creative hubs all over the state.” Arriving in Rockport from New York, she found Maine to be far enough removed to be slightly isolated but close enough to cultural centers to still feel connected.

White studied photography and painting, and she now combines them in an inspired and inspiring way. Her subjects have included people, food, insects, botanical specimens, entire landscapes, and x-rays and close-ups of human body parts. Using medium-format film, White scans her images, prints them on watercolor paper that she mounts to panels, and then applies black and white oil paint and encaustic, a liquid wax that cools to varied transparencies. Executed with great sensitivity, the process results in hauntingly beautiful works in which White’s crisp, detailed photographs become obscured by milky veils or shrouded in darkness. The works’ evocative and lyrical potential is further enriched with washes of charcoal fanning out from the panels’ edges, painted accents, pools of liquid metal, and silvery dust.

White’s recent atmospheric images of water stem from a three-month stay in a lighthouse-keeper’s residence on Canada’s Grand Manan Island in 2012. “These photographs are documentary,” says the artist, “but I approach them from an intuitive and personal angle.” In their stillness and elusiveness, the images suggest the timelessness of nature, while at the same time they are elegiac meditations on the fragility of life. Although she is saddened by the environmental endangerment of the sea, White is already planning her next artistic exploration. Thanks to a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, she became a certified scuba diver this summer. She now plans to photograph underwater and will participate in an Arctic Circle expedition on board a tall ship next year. Just like her artworks are layered with mystery under their surface, the artist herself is ready to go deeper, literally, and closer to her source of inspiration.

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