Dangerous Beauties

This month in the Speck Gallery you can see new work by Harrison Center artist Carolyn Springer. “Dangerous Beauties, Nefarious Plants and How to Love Them,”  is a series of encaustic paintings, mono-prints and sculpture comprised of deadly plants.

Romantic and stylized forms of the plants and flowers are captured in a darker palette of melted beeswax, which reflects the mysterious, luminous, and shadow side of human psyches. Fantastical creatures in the paintings are a nod to the often, hallucinogenic effects experienced when ingesting some of these plants. “I thought it would be far more interesting to paint images of plants that could kill you rather than heal you. And she “loves the idea of educating people without them realizing they are being educated.”says Springer.

Carolyn researched her subject in libraries and gardens. “The Lilly Library, in Bloomington houses beautiful old texts, which included a French, Medical Botany from 1790 and the botanical engravings have been a source of inspiration for my work."  Apothecary gardens, medicinal plant gardens, poison gardens are all places that house plants that can help or harm.  Butler University  houses an apothecary garden and is used as a living lab where the plants can be used for study purposes in biology and pharmacy. You can also find a medicinal plant garden at the Indiana Medical History Museum. “Many of the miracle drugs of today are molecules or variations on compounds that were originally from plant medicines. The right doses can heal and cure illnesses and the wrong can send one to his or her grave." says Springer.

The show opens in Speck Gallery on Friday, October 6 with a reception from 6 to 9pm and hangs through October 27.


Carolyn Springer earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from San Diego State University where she began her exploration of encaustic painting. She teaches at Herron School of Art + Design. She won a Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship award and a research grant to study in Italy. Springer’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally since 1990 at sites ranging from Berkley Art Center, CA, Yokohama Japan’s Citizen’s Gallery and Tijuana’s Cultural Center.

Photo courtesy of Emily Schwank, Raincliff Photography. raincliffphotography.com