Born in Eatonton, Georgia, David C. Driskell’s first sojourn in Maine was in 1953, when he was twenty-two. At that time, he was an undergraduate student studying fine arts at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Howard made it possible for Driskell to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture on a scholarship that summer. There, Driskell met Leonard Bocour (1910–1993), the paint manufacturer and founder of Bocour Artists Colors. As Resident Faculty that year, Bocour taught a laboratory course on artists’ materials, and Driskell was his assistant. Driskell’s penchant for studio alchemy is on full display in Shaker Chair and Quilt. Driskell favored encaustic for his collage paintings; it provided an excellent binder and transparentizer for the multiple textured materials he deployed, including torn strips of painted paper, prints, magazines, and foil or gauze. When burnished, the melted wax provides a surface brilliance and luminous functional depth that allows his collage elements to seemingly oscillate or dance. This play of flatness and spatial illusionism, fixed suspension, and rhythmic movement courses through his encaustic work of this era.
Julie L. McGee
Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Art History, University of Delaware, Newark
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