Brenda Denise Howell

Brenda Denise Howell

Contact Information

Phone: (215) 782-3984

Recent Work

Artist's Statement

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to color and texture –wanting to produce beauty, but not beauty in the conventional sense. I desire to bring out the heavenliness that dwells in the imperfect, the unrefined and the discarded; a loveliness that quickens the soul and breath and makes you not want to look away but deeper.Encaustic, from the Greek enkaustikos, means to heat or to burn. Beeswax, pigment and heat are its source elements and together I find them endlessly fascinating and artistically fulfilling.

Beeswax is melted, color is added/blended, and applied with brushes sometimes thickly, sometimes thinly, each layer going from liquid to solid in a matter of seconds. Each layer is then fused with a heat gun. Layers are scraped (archaeological/excavation/mystery –going deeper and deeper) and applied, sometimes as many as a dozen times. It’s a laborious process with images arriving by intention –and by accident.

I always have a kernel of an idea of where a painting will “go” but the fickle nature of this medium often leads to a serendipitous destination.In my work the intent is to suggest the ‘presence of an absence”, to intrigue the viewer and set up a dialectical tension that is deliciously painful. Thru texture, color, layering and found materials (wax, rust, wood, anything discarded yet lovely) a tension is achieved –beauty vs. ugliness, aggressive vs. peaceful, forgotten vs. precious

Selected Exhibitions

MamaCITA Bi Annual Exhibition, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

Encaustic: Three Artists Meet, DaVinci Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA

MamaCITA Bi Annual Exhibition, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

Simplicity, Juried, William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia, PA

Re.Collection, Group Show and Installation, Cheltenham Center for the Arts, Cheltenham, PA

The Road to Here, B-Square Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Looking Up at the Cosmos, Mission First Housing Commission, Permanent Installation, Philadelphia, PA

Represent, Langman Gallery Space, Jenkintown, PA

Begin: Hope, Faith, Resilience, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

Forgotten Philadelphia, Fairmount Park Welcome Center, Philadelphia, PA

Arcadia University, Glenside, PA

Juried Exhibition, Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, PA

Landscape Love Affair: Works from Fairmount Park and Beyond, LOVE Park Welcome Center, Philadelphia, PA

Following the Line, Art in City Hall, Juried, Philadelphia, PA

(W)holon, Walker Fine Art Center Gallery, Martinsville, VA

Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, PA

Women in the Arts, Abington Friends School, Abington, PA

MamaCITA at Green Lane Commons, Manayunk, PA

New Faces, Art in City Hall, Juried, Philadelphia, PA

MamaCITA at Fetters Mill Inn, Huntington Valley, PA

Philadelphia Sketch Club Juried Show, Philadelphia, PA

Public Art Projects

Permanent Installation, Union Eagle Senior Housing Project for Mission First Housing
Collaborative 2 MamaCITA members
Bordentown, NJ

Looking up at the Cosmos, Mural, Most Precious Blood Catholic School for Mission First Housing
Collaborative 4 MamaCITA members
Philadelphia, PA

One Year, Painted Bride Art Center and The Rotunda at the University of Pennsylvania
A 3 year mentoring and social awareness project in collaboration with MothersIn Charge
Philadelphia, PA

Beginnings, Permanent Installation, Einstein Medical Center Montgomery
Collaborative MamaCITA
Norristown, PA


Einstein Medical Center Montgomery
Norristown, PA

Artist's Bibliography

Shaw, Yowei, "Honoring each Victim." NewsWorks WHYY, April 8, 2014.

Dribben, Melissa, “In Art, Mother's Find Ways to Deal With Losing a Child." Philadelphia Inquirer, September 6, 2014.

Heidenry, Rachael, "Collaboration is the Basis for Anti-Violence Project, One Year, at the Rotunda." Artblog, September 16, 2013.

Simmons, Sheila, "Vessels Carry Message." Liberty City Press, January 15, 2013.

Intindoli, Lauren, Interview. PHL17 Eye Opener,January 8, 2013.

Fruean, Maleka, "Artists Continue their Work Memorializing Every Philadelphia Homicide Victim of 2012." NewsWorks WHYY, December 12, 2012.

Tevere, Melissa, et al, "Forgotten Philadelphia: Art and Writing Inspired by Philadelphia Heritage Sites." Philadelphia Stories, Inc., 2012.

Rosenberg, Amy S. "Images that Soothe, MamaCITA Installation Beginnings at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery." Philadelphia Inquirer, September 2012.

Professional Experience

Instructor, Natural Dying Workshop, Cheltenham Center for the Arts
Cheltenham, PA

Visiting Artist, The Montgomery School
Chester Springs, PA

Awards and Grants

Linda Gitterman Brener Award for Sculpture
Cheltenham Center for the Arts 78th Annual Members Show

Leeway Foundation, Art and Change Grant

Leeway Foundation, Art and Change Grant

HatchFund (Formerly USAProjects), artist advocacy grant

Philadelphia's Mothers in Charge Peacemaker Award
with MamaCITA


InLiquid Art + Design
MamaCITA - A Mothers' Cooperative in the Arts
Cheltenham Center for the Arts
Da Vinci Art Alliance


2002 - 2005
Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
BA in Sociology