Dawn Tekler: Mental Structures

Dawn Tekler, Massillon Morning

Dawn Tekler paints scenes from along the coastline of Northeast Ohio, showcasing both its natural beauty and the raw workings of the steel industry that collectively tell the story of the region. Though Tekler is inspired by these places, her paintings are not realist—she is not depicting any given place exactly. Better dubbed “urban impressionism,” she is portraying color and light, the sensations she experiences amongst the landscape translated onto a painting’s surface.

Tekler’s medium is encaustic painting—pigment and wax mixed together and shaped directly onto board. The ease with which the wax can be shaped, then heated again and reshaped is the marvel of the medium, but at times its challenge. The moment of the wax being shaped just so is a fleeting one. A challenge like this is good for what Tekler describes as her “Type A minus personality” (often ambitious and focused…but not all the time). Some years ago, she was searching for an alternative method for photography, her first practice. She discovered encaustic painting and set out to teach herself how to do it. Along the way, Tekler has often broken away from the “right” technique in favor of doing what feels right for her. She mixes pigments directly on her putty knife, which she uses to paint. Ignoring the way she was taught is another good exercise for her “Type A-” self. Currently, Tekler is working out a new method to “draw” onto her paintings: “I’ve read how you’re supposed to do it, but I know I can come up with a better way.”

Tekler is not only showing us the landscape from a perspective we do not usually have, but she is also sharing with us a private moment. She captures the views that inspire her paintings while on her paddle board—the sunrise or sunset from the gently lapping waters of Lake Erie or the sharp, soaring angles of iron bridges spanning the Cuyahoga River as she paddles underneath them. Tekler has been paddle boarding for two years and frequently gets up in the early morning hours to catch the sunrise. When I remark that she would never catch me out on the lake at 5:00am she smiles, “I get up early so you don’t have to.” While these hours are when Tekler sources material for compositions in pigment and wax, they are also time for her to meditate, to enjoy a solitary excursion out into nature and to contemplate whatever thoughts and emotions are currently occupying her mind. Through her paintings, Tekler recalls these moments and lets us imagine feeling that same sense of tranquility.

Mental Structures runs from January 5 through February 24 at the Massillon Museum’s Studio M. Opening reception from 7:00 to 9:00pm, Saturday, January 12.

Massillon Museum

121 Lincoln Way East

Massillon, Ohio 44646