Fairview rotating artist shows ‘visual poetry of plants’

Ostraff’s art explores the interaction between people and plants using a painting technique of hot beeswax and added pigments, called Encaustics.


Fairview rotating artist shows

‘visual poetry of plants’


By Robert Green 

Staff writer



FAIRVIEW—Local artist and BYU biology teacher Melinda Ostraff will be showing off her collection of pigmented art that focuses on the “visual poetry of plants” as the new rotating artist at the Fairview Museum.

A reception will be held in her honor at the Fairview Museum, 85 N. 100 E, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21. Please wear masks as social distancing will be encouraged.

Ostraff has a PhD in Ethnobotany, the study of interactions between people and plants, and through her art she explores the natural world in different ways, said Donna Seager, museum spokesperson.

She uses a painting technique called Encaustics, which uses hot beeswax with added pigments.

Ostraff said became intrigued with the way that the wax informs and transforms colours, shapes and textures.

“This way of thinking, looking at and interacting with the natural world has motivated me to look at the world in new ways,” Ostraff said.  “I look at patterns, forms, colours and textures”.

Encaustic painting has linked seamlessly with her fascination with plant structures and potential meaning as she considered people and their symbiotic relationship with plants, Seager said. Over the past several years her emphasis has shifted from ethnobotany-art making to art making as her primary focus and her background in botany as a foundation for the process.

It is the simple gestures and visual poetry of plants that caught her eye and drew her into a landscape, Seager said.  This botanical simplicity and poetry is what she attempts to capture in her art.

Ostraff explained that her husband is an artist and “we have been collaborating for most of our married life in a variety of ways. Joe as my field assistant, and I as a participant in many of his international artistic collaborations.”

She has exhibited her artwork around the state, including a show at the Rio Gallery in Salt Lake City.

The Fairview Museum encourages patrons to come out and support the local artist. Her show will run until Oct. 31. Summer hours are Monday thru Thursday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ostraff resides in Fairview with her husband Joe, who also works at BYU and is the chairman of the Fine Arts Department. They have six children: Josh, Jenny, Zack, Caleb, Ethan, and Hannah. The four oldest children are married and Ethan and Hannah are students at BYU.


Melinda Ostraff will be showing off her unique pieces of art at the Fairview Museum from Aug. 21 until Oct. 31.