Eirene Archolekas

Eirene is a professor of English lit, journalist and expressive arts practitioner. She came to art later in life as a way to cope with a crisis. She tried her hand at various media and techniques at the Arts' Students' League, advancing on to the National Academy of Art, Bric Ceramics Center, and the Lower East Side Print Shop. However, it was reading the word “encaustic” on the museum label of the vibrant Fayyum portraits in the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan that sparked her curiosity for this obscure technique. Her good fate and curiosity led her to a series of workshops from R&F Studios and Paints, the major supplier of encaustic media, located only an hour and a half away in Kingston, NY. From those foundational workshops and a period of experimental discovery, she manifested a natural proclivity to encaustic, an ancient Greek/Egyptian painting technique that she intuitively mastered believing that it was in her DNA all along.

Encaustic is particularly endearing for her because it provides a direct connection to her ancestral past. It assists in uncovering the many fused layers of identity, and its versatility as a medium lends well to the sort of psychic archeology inherent in her work. Its complexity is a function of its multi-sensual nature as well–textural, visual, tactile, olfactory. To center her practice, she begins with inspiration from the natural world. It is not uncommon to discover many foraged natural materials including herbs, seeds, branches, bark, rocks, and earth in her compositions. She uses the textures possible in wax to explore the emotional surfaces of the landscapes both internal and external. Wax is a type of medium that requires negotiation, unruly enough to speak through the artist yet malleable enough to allow the artist to speak. The process of creating in wax results in an alchemy between maker and medium that is mesmerizing.

Eirené has exhibited photography, encaustic painting, and encaustic mixed media in galleries close to her studio in Long Island City including Plaxall Gallery and at Atlantic Gallery in the Landmark Arts Building Chelsea, as well as in Rome, Moscow, and Paris. Mythic archetypes reworked in postmodern ways populate her work. Her oeuvre is idiosyncratic, ranging from impressionistic landscapes, abstract expressionistic renderings, feminist-themed collage, both decorative and abstract expressive floral motifs, even monoprints. As a poet and writer, text and collaged fragments of type and writing make their way in her work. Her encaustics are characterized by stark and dramatic textures varied with smooth shiny finishes that serve to underscore the emotional variations of the composition. She loves to refashion recycled materials in collage as the act of recycling speaks to her belief of the salvaging and reframing power of art.

Eirené is in the process of organizing a residency in encaustic art and expressive arts therapies in the Cyclades her ancestral islands of Paros & Ios where she runs art retreats.

“Art helps me process the paradox, emotional malaise and contradiction in my personal life as well as the world around me,” she explains. “It acts as a symbolic manifestation of my personal landscapes, shifting lights and mostly about the shadows and the chiaroscuros. It helps me make sense of what I feel. Ultimately, it helps me heal. The act of creation becomes a triumph over despair, a tool for healing, and living proof that beauty can save the world.”