Francie Randolph says that the best solutions are found by paring things down to their essence. Randolph’s latest works, two series called “Structure and Flow” and “Coral,” have an aura that feels as old as the universe, conveying messages of time and change.
The two series—encaustic, oil, and mixed media on wood panel—began six years ago. She and her husband, artist Tom Watson, share a barn studio behind their antique Truro home, with farm animals grazing the rolling lawn. This sublime setting is perfect for Randolph to “get swept along in the tidal pull of my mind.”
Randolph’s art is alive with connections, including how the medium is applied. “The ‘Water Series’ was created with encaustic; it’s heated and flows on,” Randolph says. “It represents time moving away from hard-edged reality.”
The “Coral Series” is more about connection. “Coral is one of the largest living organisms,” Randolph says. “Through its life cycle, it creates patterns. To me that’s a beautiful metaphor for the world. Connecting to each other and nature, we build something that’s much greater than ourselves.”
Art has brought many uncanny twists to Randolph’s life. Recently, she was invited to create a book based on a commencement speech given by author J.K. Rowling at Harvard University, Randolph’s alma mater. The book, a gift to Rowling and Harvard President Drew Faust is an exquisite presentation of the speech featuring Braille over vellum.
The project had many coincidences, something not lost on Randolph. “That was a wonderful project,” she says. “The coincidences were extraordinary.”
Randolph is a careful listener and remembers important words. “I had a prof at Harvard who said basically, ‘Francie, the work you make is yours.’ The rest of Harvard was saying, ‘you should get out there and make yourself a top lawyer or doctor.’”
The professor’s message hit her hard. Randolph got grant money to travel to Papua, New Guinea, where she saw the tie between art and culture. “I realized I wanted to work in a way that responded to the way we were living our lives,” she says. “That’s sort of how my life has unfolded.”