Maize to Mars

Maize to Mars

Work by Margaret Berry
Monday, May 6, 2024 to Friday, June 14, 2024

Maize to Mars is a romp through the fertile fields of my artist life, both a retrospective and a creative cornucopia.  It was sparked by a recent headline that the University-of-Nebraska aims to grow the first acre of corn on Mars. One of earth’s most ancient grains is set to journey to the outer reaches of our universe.

The news triggered my earliest memories of ethereal corn silk, the rustle of husks and endless rows of green and gold below the stars.  I remember my father unrolling a cloth nightly to check the germination of his seeds while I now check the emergence of my evolving art. What will take hold and grow?

My corn-themed artwork over time has used batik, ceramic, photography, sculpture, gouche and encaustic. New themes include Mars-like surfaces, a mythological red corn goddess, and astronaut farmers. Behold also my growing corn collection, once featured in a 2018 Atlas Obscura article, and now an altar of adoration, featuring works by Emily Reason, Mark Dahmke, Cathi Schwalbe, Bri Murphy and PJ Hargraves.


Artist Bio

Margaret Berry is a studio artist in Lincoln, specializing in encaustic artwork. A farm girl from Wahoo, she is a lifelong Nebraskan with degrees from Creighton University and UNL. She has served both as an executive director of the Lincoln Arts Council and education director at Lux Center for the Arts. She has received a Mayor’s Arts Award, the Lux Center’s Community Arts Award and was selected to be the first full-time Artist-in-Residence for the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel.

When a truck ran a red light injuring her in 2000, Margaret discovered encaustic during her recuperation. She quickly became a charter member of International Encaustic Artists and the organizer of their national exhibitions.  As an artist-in-residence with the Nebraska Arts Council for over a decade, she has taught the encaustic process to students of all ages throughout the state and has also been invited to give her innovative Hot Wax/Cool Art™ workshops across the U.S. She is honored to have been part of invitational group exhibitions in 17 states and to create 11 solo shows. In Nebraska, her work has been shown at the Sheldon Museum of Art, the Bemis Center, the Museum of Nebraska Art, the Lux Center for the Arts, the Norfolk Arts Center, the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, the Lauritzen Gardens and the National Willa Cather Center.

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Artist Statement

“I am mesmerized when painting with fire.The ancient medium of encaustic is a melding of beeswax, dammar resin and pigment. It is applied hot on wood and other stiff surfaces in layers and fused with a torch. Wax hardens quickly so I use it intuitively and relish the surprising textures and mixing of colors. The sensuous and versatile possibilities of wax intersect well with other media and allows me to incorporate photographs, pyrography, collage elements and sculptural details.

The organic materials of encaustic also complement my fascination with sweeping views, earthy colors, plowed fields, harvested crops and reveal my enduring love of the Great Plains.”