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Meet the artist: Susan Fordyce

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For many people, the discovery of a beehive is cause to grab a can of insect killer or call an exterminator.

But for artist Susan Fordyce, it was a chance to embark on a new artistic journey.

She kept the hives, raised the bees, and started working in encaustic, or painted beeswax. The result has been a unique artform that allows for texturing and detail that traditional media do not.

A collection of her encaustic works will be on display at the Southside Art League gallery through July 31. The gallery, located at 299 E. Broadway St., Greenwood, is open to the public 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

An open house will be conducted from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the gallery.

How did you get started as an artist?

I started when I was about 10. I started drawing. My friend started playing chess that summer, and I started drawing people. I never did learn to play chess.

How did you develop that talent?

I’ve never had any art lessons at all. All of my degrees are in English, but it’s so close to what I do. When I start a new drawing, they always have a representational element. I’m a storyteller, so there’s always a sort of underlying narrative or question that leads to narrative.

What kinds of work do you do?

My favorite media is ink and paper. Some of my works have hung at the (Indianapolis Museum of Art) in an exhibition. I love drawing, and for the last few years, I’ve been doing a lot of mixed media. I include handmade papers, inks, watercolors, sometimes oil and fabric. I spin and weave and knit.

How did you get started with encaustic?

A couple of years ago, a swarm of bees came to my house. I contacted a person and told him I wanted him to set up hives. I belong to the Central Indiana Beekeepers Association.

Because of that, I became interested in painting beeswax, or encaustic.

How does it work?

It’s an ancient art form of art. The Greeks did it on masks for funerals. It’s so easy. These are small pieces. You can damage it, because it’s wax. But you can also polish it. It’s wonderful.

What will this show include?

I have 23 pieces showing, and all of the pieces in this show are beeswax. There’s other stuff there, like paper and ink and paint. But it’s all encaustic.

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