The UGallery Group Show: Shannon Amidon, Dendolatry

It was not what the papers said, but rather, it was the papers' existence that made them so unusual.

But as Shannon Amidon discovered them in the old antique shop in Colorado, she immediately recognized their significance and purchased the whole, damaged stack.

The papers were burned – but only half burned, a quality that added an additional appeal for Shannon.

It is remarkable that, at some point, these handwritten letters, once destined to the same address had separated off into two, very different lifecycles. There is a beautiful mystery to the burned other half. Imagination can allow its ashes to nourish the roots of daffodils or oak trees that will become bouquets or parts of houses. And for the other half, it would find itself nestled between the beeswax layers of Shannon Amidon’s new series, Dendrolatry.

The series comprises of encaustic artwork, made from beeswax, resin tree wax and vintage papers, that is inspired by trees. The word itself Dendrolatry has its roots in Ancient Greek and translates to the worship of trees.

Each time that Shannon begins a new series, her process heavily emphasizes research and preparation. During the past few months, she has discovered the rich history, symbolism, and folklore behind trees.

“Since the beginning of time, trees have provided shelter, food, medicine, and the air we breathe,” says Shannon. “They are resilient, majestic and unique.”

Adapting to the seasons, trees represent lifecycles and the cyclical nature in time in a way that underscores Shannon’s overarching project of the series. Even their own biological timekeeping is rendered in the concentric circles of tree rings.  

Shannon’s medium and preparation parallel the notion cycles of life. From the vintage paper, to the beeswax, to natural earth pigments, all her materials are, in some way or another, recycled. She gives these materials a new life.

Creating encaustics involves a complicated and time extensive process that requires layers upon layers of wax applied in rounds of heating, cooling, layering, and burnishing.

“It is a renewable medium. If I am not happy with the way it looks, I scrape it off and reuse it. I have no waste and I can keep using my materials over and over again,” she says, “This goes with my work’s emphasis on the environment, so it is important to me to not negatively impact it.”

The use of vintage paper is another theme of the series. She intentionally embeds text into the layers of wax with enough opacity so that the words are just beyond legibility. The artwork refuses the innate urge to read the text and corner it into meaning legislated by associations, connotations, facts.

Because, when looked at, as opposed to read, the text opens up with possibilities.

Maybe, it is the elementary school report card of your favorite author. Or, a local newspaper on the date of your birth. Or, your great-grand mothers’ dance card with the name of your great-grandfather embossed on one of its line.

Yes, these are all unlikely and romantic. But they are also not impossible. They are all possibilities that fade into view over a long period of time, or thick overlays of wax. To place yourself in the lifecycle of Shannon’s work is to create something not only meaningful but sacred.

Tree Poem  (24" x 36") by Shannon Amidon, encaustic artwork from series  Dendrolatry

Tree Poem (24" x 36") by Shannon Amidon, encaustic artwork from series Dendrolatry