Artist brings rubble from Grimes Mill fire to life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 12, 2013

Karen Frazer hits the nail on the head or covers it with wax in her new show titled “Entropy.”
The remains of Salisbury’s beloved historic 1896 Grimes Mill, which burned to the ground in January, become the seeds for Frazer’s vision of unrelenting change as she describes her show’s title.
“Okay, what about entropy? The only way I can think to sum it up is that chaos or disorder increases until the Universe arrives at ultimate ‘heat death,’ she said. “Heat brought death to our mill, but heat can also create.”
The Historic Salisbury Foundation allowed Frazer to visit the mill site to collect blackened and rusty artifacts for incorporation as found objects in the ancient Greek medium known as encaustic wax.
Built on an artistic foundation of painting and sculpture, Frazer wields her heat gun, forging lost elements that entropy had torn apart into new art.
Frazer’s love of the wax medium has been forged by pilgrimages to the annual International Encaustic Conference, which is now held in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
There with a gathering of artists from around the world, she practices and studies her trade to bring back a gift to Salisbury’s art community.
Charred wood becomes an exotic star while rusted brackets and nails form a galaxy-like spiral and a stage for a fallen angel as a history of grain turned to food fill the gallery walls.
Frazer, who has taken a class about the history of Rowan County with her husband, said the transformed rubble tells the story of the mill’s significance.
“We felt badly about the mill’s demise,” she said. “I believe the subsequent salvaging of the mill’s remains has helped the community to move on from the loss.”
The show, which is made up of 20 pieces, will be up through Sept. 28 at the Rail Walk Studios and Gallery.
Ben Martin’s color photograph of Grimes Mill will also be on display.
There will be an artist’s reception for the exhibit from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.
Rail Walk, 409 N. Lee St., is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
For more information, call 302-598-8812 or visit
Fifteen percent of all sales from the show will be donated to the Historic Salisbury Foundation.