Debra Claffey pesters Jeanne Borofsky with a few questions:

Debra Claffey pesters Jeanne Borofsky with a few questions:

Jeanne with How They Roll #1, 32″ x 32″

Would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself?

I have an MFA in printmaking and have attended several schools, including a year at a “commercial art” school. I have worked in practically every medium there is. I find encaustic very satisfying, and perfect for my tendency to want to put a little bit of everything into each piece—every color in the world (!), bits of stuff from old art, the woods, trash, metal—whatever I can find. I’m trying to make emotional connections with my whole world, maybe.

I grew up out on a dirt road in New Hampshire and my two brothers were already in school when I came along.  Therefore, I spent a lot of time alone in my formative years—which has made me more comfortable in solitude than in a group, and perfectly suited to studio life.

What intrigued you as a kid?

When very small I could spend hours in my room making up stories and looking at picture books, as well as lots of time outside making houses for the little people, “boats” and bridges on the brook, doll clothes for my dolls, or digging tunnels in the sand pits.  I have never been bored when alone.

What are your inspirations?

Everything. Other art work, for one.  I am not good at visiting shows and museums because I find myself trying to recreate whatever I see that I like.

The world I see in my back yard for another.

and mostly the strange world in my head…

On your website you quote Alexander Calder: “I want to make things that are fun to look at, that have no propaganda value whatsoever.”

I don’t want to make art with a specific message, I want you the viewer to be able to find your own meaning.

What do you have deep feelings about?

What not? The world, the earth, the people I love…

What is the significance of including asemic text? 

I like the look of text, and the feeling of meaning, but, as above, I want you to see your own meaning in the piece.

What is the significance of including maps?    

So you can find your way around.

Origami and encaustic, 4″ x 2″ x 2″

Here is one of your pieces from the City Block series. What you were thinking as you created it?

I have no idea what I was thinking, other than what colors to put together, and what bits of mark making I would add.

This is a little piece, kind of a personal castle (with a personal dragon). We all need one, but we mostly make our own protections.

When do you decide, what size or scale something might be, or what configuration?

When I pick up a panel or piece of wood (I have LOTS of these blocks)

Do you work from a plan or find the work from experimental play? At some point you decide this will be a piece? What criteria makes it a piece ready to go out into the world?

Good question. When it feels grown up, I suppose. Sometimes I change my mind and rework something that’s been shown.

Can you speak a bit about why humor and whimsy are so important in your work?

I have never been able to understand why art is supposed to be so serious and meaningful.  Everything has meaning. And we don’t have enough humor or whimsy in our world. Whimsy keeps us from getting buried under the reality of the world.

Are there any particular challenges to working with encaustic in three dimensions?

Yes, fusing can be a challenge…to be able to fuse one side without the wax melting off another where you don’t want it to.

How do you keep the pieces lightweight? 

My castles are filled with air (made of paper).  My birds and spaceships are usually hollow.

How has your practice changed over time?

It’s always changing.  I have done painting, sculpture, printmaking, rubberstamp art, digital painting, watercolor, and probably more.  Now I concentrate a bit more on encaustic and various kinds of monotype printmaking.

Jeanne at campsite on Mt Shuksan, Washington

What would our readers be surprised to learn about you?

I never thought of myself as athletic, but I have skied since I was a kid. I’ve done a lot of mountain climbing (climbed Mt Rainier at age 53). We’ve been in the Eastern Sierras near the Minarets, coming back down to Mammoth, California, on mules, and have spent nights camping on glaciers in Canada and Washington.

I started playing ice hockey at 41 or 42, and still play at 73 (though not very well).

Does traveling feed your art?

Yes, in that everything we do reflects into our art, but I don’t come back and put it all into my work. It’s a subtler influence than that.

Why do you think it’s so important to share our work as artists with the world? We could keep it to ourselves and just satisfy our need to make stuff…

We’re making something to look at, so people should look at it. It would be naive to think that we don’t want feedback. It’s always inspiring to have people say good things about your work, or want to buy it or show it.

Origami and Encaustic, 16″ x 16″



Jeanne Borofsky,, is a long-time member and former president of New England Wax. Her work can be seen at Gallery Blink in Lexington and Gallery Sitka in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Debra Claffey,, is also a long-time member and former president of New England Wax. Her work can be seen at Art 3 Gallery, Manchester, New Hampshire.