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OK, not stalking exactly, but I have been following them very, very closely since I was in college. The Starns are Mike and Doug Starn, identical twins who work collaboratively on photo-based art and more recently intricate art installations.


They made a big splash on the art scene when I was in collage way back in 19whatever by taking photographs, printing them with lots of dust, fixer stains and other “imperfections” then them ripping them up and putting them back together with Scotch tape. The visual effect was emotional and direct but everyone was screaming about them not being archival and falling apart in 10 years. I was totally torn on the issue until I saw their work in person. After that transformative moment, I spent as many hours with their work as I could for the final 3 days the exhibit was up. I was totally mesmerized! They taught me that you CAN break the rules of your medium, you just have to be open to what might come of it, good or bad.


My husband Bill and I had decided to treat ourselves to a couple of days in New York after the Annual Encaustic Conference and were looking for stuff to do in the area. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out the Starns were having an open studio event for their latest installation, Big Bambu, while we were in town!

Their installation, Big Bambu, fills their huge warehouse studio

Their installation, Big Bambu, fills their huge warehouse studio

lashingFrom their web site: “This artwork, in the realm of architecture and performance, starts as a massive tower created from lashed together bamboo poles and brings into space representations of complexity and chaos. Big Bambú will evolve through the continuous rebuilding and rethinking of the structure at all times.

The Starns are directing 8 to 15 rock climbers at a time, who are assembling the structure’s vernacular network in an ongoing action. Big Bambú is consistent with the idea of a self-healing organism; within this “fabric” of bamboo pole network, the artists expect that some poles will stress and fail, but that the structure will maintain some integrity. The tower represents the concepts of self-organization, adaptation and the interconnectedness of all things.” View their 3D Virtual video here.

Sadly, they weren’t there when we were so I didn’t get to meet them, but we did get to see the installation and so much more. Work from all eras of their career was hanging in the space along with several works in progress and some pieces that were in the middle of being packed for shipping. It was fascinating! Here are a few more photos from their amazing studio:

This is one of their color carbon prints

This is one of their color carbon prints which is about as tall as I am

Work from their Blocking Out the Sun Series

Work from the Blot Out the Sun Series. Work from a later series incorporates clear encaustic medium as well.

Art that's wrapped and ready to be shipped to the next show

Work from Attracted to Light, wrapped and ready to be shipped to the next show

Even famous artists use regular pillow for packing!

I'm happy to see that even famous artists use regular pillows for packing!


We also made it to the Starns other new work called See It Split, See It Change (above), a multi-part, site-specific installation that encompasses the entire interior of the new South Ferry Terminal concourse, created for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts. Look for it at the South Ferry Station, 1 line.


The work features signature Starn artworks including silhouetted images of trees, mosaic maps of Manhattan, fused glass panels, and a stainless steel fence. It’s an easy ride to get there so if you’re in New York go see it!

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Embracing Encaustic: Learning to Paint with Beeswax
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