Artist Sarah Petite’s collection of encaustic paintings are now available to be viewed at the Charlotte Street Art Centre’s Charlotte Glencross Gallery, until April 14, 2014.
Sarah Petite’s “Game Theory” exhibition opened on March 7, 2014 with a reception at the Charlotte Glencross Gallery in Fredericton. The event was well attended.
A rare choice today, Petite’s choice of medium is encaustic painting, and she is entirely self-taught. This technique consists of tinting heated beeswax with pigments. Using a variety of tools, the mixture is then applied to a canvas, or, in Petite’s case, a wooden or panel base. The result is textured paintings, which, as one of the attendees at the gallery opening reception remarked, can be looked at for hours and hours.
Encaustic painting has been done for centuries; some of the earliest encaustic paintings were found in the mummies’ sarcophagus in Egypt that date back to before the modern calendar (100 A.D.).
“Game Theory” is the title of the art expo, a description that brings to mind various associations, most of which Petite is aware. She mentions the link to mathematicians and the attempts to rationalize decision-making. However, Petite’s pieces are each unique in the type of game that they portray and the fun and playful nature of the pieces is at the forefront for viewers of the expo. The public will surely associate games such as chess, pachisi (from India) and backgammon with their own past experiences.
Petite says that her expo is “based aesthetically on the classic game boards, and hopes to comment in metaphor on our human (and solitary) interactions, strategies, bargains, our cheating and deceiving, our races and contests, our big decisions.” The direct link between the games and decision-making is overt. In constructing the boards, Petite sets the stage for the theatre of interaction and negotiation that games become, even when they are independent endeavours.
Petite admits to having had a hard time with some of the games. However, she is quite curious about games in general, and mentioned she recently “tried a friend’s patience” while attempting to learn how to play Go, a game of strategy that originated in Ancient China.
Significantly, Petite’s journey into the world of games and art began when she was a student in Halifax in the late sixties and happened into the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, where she saw her first crude boards. She says: “I was drawn to a homemade checkers board, made, I supposed by a homesteader burning squares into a plank with a poker from the hearth. There was something about the design, the history, the human presence of the handmade ‘parlour game’ that sounded a deep chord in me.”
Petite now has a complete set of her own homemade game boards, some entirely traditional and recognizable while others are much more whimsical, like “Heaven and Earth” which includes the outline of a familiar hopscotch.
Sarah Petite is an established artist with a great number of solo exhibitions under her belt. During the winter, Petite has a studio in Fredericton while in the summer she is based out of Maitland, in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia.
Petite’s expo can be viewed at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre’s Charlotte Glencross Gallery until April 14, 2014. The Centre is open seven days a week until 10:00 pm.