Encounter's totem-like forms exemplify the push and pull between abstraction and evocations of nature, memory, or myth in Dehner's work. The interplay of positive and negative space reflects her emphasis on sculptural contours rather than mass. Before the 1950s, Dehner's art took a back seat to that of her husband, the sculptor David Smith. She did not make three-dimensional works until 1952, two years after they divorced. Of her early sculptures, including Encounter—which she made by pouring molten bronze into wax molds, an ancient technique known as the lost-wax process—Dehner explained, "I was never taught sculpture at all. . . . I didn't need it. The minute I had [the wax] in my hands, I knew what to do."
Gallery label from Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, April 19 - August 13, 2017.