UNVEILED Artist Insights—Bobbette Rose

May 3, 2021

Over time, I’ve realized that my work has become more responsive to and inspired by the natural world...I've begun incorporating things from nature—sticks, twigs, leaves, flower petals, etc. into my visual vocabulary.

Bobbette Rose’s encaustic art pieces on exhibit at UNVEILED have a translucent quality. Layers of melted wax and color hint at depths within depths in her pieces. Depending on where they’re hung, an art piece might glow particularly bright or appear deeply shadowed. Gold leaf, cobalt blue, rustic black, the striking presence of a protruding stick—Bobbette’s encaustic paintings aren’t so much abstract art, she says, as “interior landscapes.”

“Layered” is an apt description of Bobbette’s spiritual journey and development as an artist. She has been intentionally exploring, she says, the connection between her faith and her art for many years. “All of my art intersects in some way with my personal prayer life—my connecting with God and my meditational prayers.”

“At one point I became intrigued with iconography,” she describes. “I went to a CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts) conference at Concordia College. The main speaker was an iconographer and it opened me up to thinking about the relationship between prayer and art.” From there she began to explore and learn more about how icons are made and steeped, materially and spiritually, in prayer. Everything in an icon has meaning; everything symbolizes something and feeds into the iconographer’s prayer practice. “That really made me wonder. If I did my art in a similar spirit of intentionality, through prayer, would the spirit of God come through in the painting?”

Authenticity is the key word for Bobbette. “Professionally, I am a graphic designer as well as a fine artist. Graphic designers are always trying to meet someone else’s agenda—to help a client achieve their goals. But in my fine art work, I jealously guard my art. It is not agendized. It is just me responding to the world, to my journey with Christ, to me trying to figure out who I am.”

In her work, she says, “I’m not trying to be pedantic, to convince anyone to become a Christian, or to teach anyone a particular lesson. I’m just trying to be true to my own journey with God.”

Just as she has grown as an artist through exploring alternative techniques, such as egg tempera and the Japanese art form of Nihonga, Bobbette has seen her encaustic work evolve. “Over time, I’ve realized that my work has become more responsive to and inspired by the natural world. In some ways I haven’t felt that that was well-realized in my work. I’ve begun incorporating things from nature; sticks, twigs, leaves, flower petals, etc. into my visual vocabulary.”

Faint Glimpses, one of Bobbette’s sculptural pieces, incorporates seven pages of the Bible that held meaning for her, as she reflects on her own personal experience with scripture and the dynamic tension between revelation and mystery—entwined, luminous, and murky. It brings to mind, she said, the verse  “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, KJ21)

UNVEILED runs through Thursday, May 6, at Upper House, the National Day of Prayer.