The Block Muse

Snow Does

Snow Does, a mezzotint engraving by Carol Wax from the Block Museum's permanent collection.Carol Wax, Snow Does, 1995, mezzotint engraving. Block Museum, 1995.78. © Carol Wax. Original limited edition of 100 impressions published by Stone and Press Gallery, New Orleans, LA.

Carol Wax (American, b. 1953) is one of the foremost artists working in the medium of mezzotint printmaking. Mezzotint is a laborious form of intaglio printing in which the artist uses a metal tool with small teeth, commonly referred to as a “rocker,” to create pits, or burrs, on a metal plate that will hold ink during the printing process. The artist then applies a scraper and a burnisher to cut down the burrs and smooth the plate’s surface, creating areas that will hold less ink. It is through this process that Wax’s prints become imbued with a great sense of depth and luminosity, and it is this tonality that allows her to transform the ordinary and mundane into the extraordinary, a fact that is exceedingly evident in Snow Does (1995).

Working in a color spectrum of matte whites and saturated blues, Wax depicts a seemingly unassuming and typical snowflake that, upon closer inspection, is formed by the symmetrical swirls of deer’s antlers. Manipulating the repetitive pattern of a snowflake to coincide with the contours of a doe’s head and antlers, the artist makes a singular nonliving item seem magical and quixotic. In fact, as Wax stated in a recent interview, a connecting thread that runs through the majority of her work is the notion of revealing “the anima in the inanimate,” showing the inherent beauty in all shapes and forms. This geometric beauty is apparent throughout Snow Does, too. The hexagon that circumscribes the doe-flake both encapsulates the item and showcases its splendor. Instead of using an ordered set of lines to simplify the message of this work, however, Wax has juxtaposed the fluidity of the swirling antlers with the rigidity of the hexagon-frame to add dynamism to the entire composition, ultimately convincing the viewer of the exquisiteness of something as commonplace as a falling snowflake.

—Isaac Alpert (Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences)

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