Crystal Neubauer’s art has the faint echo of Hannelore Baron, yet she’s found her own unique voice as a collage and assemblage artist, using mixed media such as encaustic wax and salvaged scraps. Neubauer began her art career constructing two dimensional collages using mostly vintage materials that evoke a poetic sensibility and love of her materials. Those elements evince a respect for what has been discarded and that can be renewed and made whole through art.
Neubauer has expanded her visual repertoire to three dimensional pieces that she calls shields. In the artwork,“Storm and Silence,” there is a round wooden plaque with spear-like shapes extending out from the center. The circular base is beautifully collaged and painted in neutrals, predominately in black and white. The circle shape suggests the earth, with latitudinal and longitudinal lines crossing each in the white section. This is striking artwork that reflects the moment we are now living in. Shields as metaphor is not lost on the viewer, while we are now wearing protective gear, our masks as metaphor. This piece is redolent of the divide between black and white, the struggle for power of people of color, butting up against the white world. Are we safeguarding ourselves against each in our differences, or are we turning inward to find answers to the great global questions? One suspects that Neubauer is hoping we’ll ask these questions.
Neubauer’s love for her materials, her reverence for the abandoned, the broken, old, and torn likens that with wabi-sabi, the Japanese philosophy that reveres the cracked cup, the rusted tool. In “Storm and Silence” the title itself points to the storms that are brewing in the world, and the silence and inaction that has muffled it. Is she asking, “Isn’t it time to fix the broken world? Neubauer’s art is intensely personal. “Storm and Silence” could also be the dichotomy and struggle that one feels in their own life. In Neubauer’s artist’s statement she says, ”I see these items as a metaphor for our own lives that seek to bring them together in a way that opens up the viewer to a deeper experience of personal redemption—where every part of who you are is embraced and nurtured.”
Neubauer uses encaustic medium in most of her recent work adding a layer of mystery, and it also acts as an elegant shield to a group of seven pieces, of elongated rectangles, each with it’s own set of intriguing titles, such as, “Art Saves” and “ He Loves Me Not, Not, Not, Not, Not.” These pieces have an ancient quality to them as if they were from the 17th century. They’re totemic in nature. Grouped together they tell a story, one of beauty and craftsmanship by using gold and silver pieces of metal, wood, paint and layers of hot wax. Crosses are often a feature of her art, as if to say, ”Art Heals” or as a signal that one must protect the soul of the self; that the shield isn’t about pushing away, but acts more as a guardian, protecting the good. Neubauer’s gift is that she has an artist’s consciousness and creates poetry from that. She lets the light in.