michele schuff | On the edge of forever | February 2 - March 17, 2018

Sandler Hudson Gallery is proud to present the newest body of intricately crafted encaustic works by Michele Schuff. This earthly contemplation of the celestial continues Schuff’s exploration of space and light through pushing the limits of her chosen medium.

The special tension between an earthly existence and knowledge of the universe surrounding that existence could be defined by a sense of awe. Awe, unlike glamour, allows us inspiration. It strikes a blow, stills us and forces a moment of contemplation. As our connection to life becomes less earthly and more digital, our sense of infinity has become mundane, tied to the seemingly endless boundaries of internet sociality and an inbox that holds an unlimited number of unread emails. On the Edge of Forever seeks to recover the awesome by reminding us, as Schuff states, “How small and fragile we seem in this vast ocean of space and time.”

The work, which is inspired in part by photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, nevertheless is strong because of its very terrestrial nature. Schuff’s laborious process is an obvious gesture of the awe-struck. Her paintings take months of laying down encaustic, scraping and repeating. Her hand becomes lost in the work, as well—sublimated—and it is difficult to determine the process by which she recreates these luminescent surfaces. But the paintings don’t simply mimic planets, and they are obviously not creations inspired by lived experience in outer space. Their beauty is specific to the moment our earth-bound bodies react to what is greater than us. It is truly a bodily sensation, not one of distraction. In recognizing what is greater, we regain a capacity to be present.

Our frailty and mortality are what allow us awe; to be On the Edge of Forever could only impress a mortal. Schuff’s planets have the paradoxical effect of allowing us to remember the expansive joys that await us here on Earth. 

Michele Schuff lives and works in Atlanta. She is a Fellow of the Hambidge Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Schloss Plüschow Künstlerhaus in Mecklenburg Germany, Weir Farm, and was named a Studio Artist at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center from 2008-2013. In addition to her work as a painter, Michele served as Historic Collections Manager for the Atlanta Fox Theatre from 1994 to 2014. Schuff’s current work examines space and light through two and three-dimensional encaustic medium and works on paper. Her work is held in private collections in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.