Member Interview: Lelia Stokes Weinstein

Member Interview: Lelia Stokes Weinstein

Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what (if any) were your early influences on your work?

Lelia Weinstein Tar Sands 16" x 8" Encaustic on panel 2014

Lelia Weinstein
Tar Sands
16″ x 8″
Encaustic on panel
2014

I grew up in Hingham on a property that was designed by the landscape architect Dan Kiley. He worked with my mother to create rooms that flowed from the house out around the property. There were magical spaces; rock ledge to climb on, thickets to hide in and majestic views from our glass walled second story house where I imagined soaring out over the land. Looking out of the living room windows I was in the tree tops. The backside of the house was more sheltered, intimate and calm. This place and the feeling of how it flowed around us have stayed with me long after it is gone. The immediate proximity we had to the elements in a house of glass influences my work. I seek movement in my pieces. The flow of water, the lapping of waves and the blur between land, water and air call out to me.

Where do you live now?

I still live in Hingham but in a Cape, far from the glass house of my

Lelia Weinstein At What Price Oil 22" x 19" encaustic on panel 2014

Lelia Weinstein
At What Price Oil
22″ x 19″
encaustic on panel
2014

childhood. To try to replicate that childhood experience, I created a studio on our second floor with a large glass window. It affords me a promontory view of the yard and puts me on the level of treetops. I can watch the clouds, branches and birds move. My day begins with coffee, journal writing and gazing out over the land.

 

 

Some years ago I took a course with Kim Bernard in encaustic and fell in love with it. Previously I had been a printmaker but the smell of warm bees’ wax, the vivid colors, depth and texture won me over to working with this versatile medium. I still often employ printing but now use wax instead of oils.

My process is a combination of working on an idea that I want to express or just playing with materials, allowing my subconscious to make the decisions. The latter is fun because suddenly one ‘awakens’ from a sort of trance or meditation, a place of no thought, to find something pleasing has been created. I jot down ideas on sticky notes and they go in a file where I can seek them out if I am stuck. More likely the actual writing lodges the idea and some manifestation comes out unknowingly from the original idea. I also just like to pick up objects that I have found on walks or in the dismantling of two parents’ houses and see where they suggest connections.

Lelia Weinstein Where are we going 40" x 15" encaustic and metal 2013

Lelia Weinstein
Where are we going
40″ x 15″
encaustic and metal
2013

Do you use other materials as well (print, quilt, paint etc) or solely work in wax?

I did many pieces with old sheets from my mother’s house. I just couldn’t throw them away. They seem to always reform into movement, i.e. folds, woven into weaving to suggest rivers or currents and symbolic laundry flapping on a cloths’ line.

Has your practice changed over time? How and why?

My work seems to center around the elements, movement, and materials.

I am very concerned about the rate in which we are ravaging this one earth for short term gain and perceived needs. Tar sands, plastic waste, water degradation, deforestation etc. So those thoughts must filter into my thinking as I work. Recent pieces have explored what we don’t see such as the disappearance of forests in the tar sands mining operations and the destruction of water purity in nearby streams.​

Do you have other jobs other than making art? 

I have been a landscape designer for over 20 years and specialize in easy to care for native and non-invasive plant materials. I love creating rooms for clients that lead them out and around their yards. So many people don’t know how to go out and enjoy their land, discover and revel in the tiny details. My philosophy is that what we don’t know we don’t miss. I have had clients ask if I installed the butterflies and frogs they see in their properties! Habitat creates a welcome mat for creatures in a way that expanses of lawn do not.

I believe we all have a river running through us that we need to nurture. My art tries to help the viewer get in touch with their river.

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