Friedberg builds the surface of her paintings with several layers of this medium, applying heat to fuse the wax to the wooden ground of her support, and the wax layers to one another. Color and light pass through the layered surface, creating an effect of veiling. Once a "fertile field" has thus been established for her imagery, Friedberg draws directly on the surface in oil stick dipped in another, specially prepared wax medium. Heat is again applied, and the surface is manipulated for texture (many of the paintings appear worn and pitted), color saturation, and transparency.
The space of Friedberg's paintings is non-mimetic. It is more of a surface for inscriptions than it is an illusionistic stage. The artist has explained: "The shallow space of the encaustic and the addition of symbols or words primarily prevent the viewer from falling into an old familiar space and invite the intellectual or conceptual response first before the emotional development."2
The materiality of Friedberg's medium is always in evidence. Through the physical apprehension of the picture-as-object, the viewer engages in an activity of reading as s/he scans the inscribed surface like a page of text. The interpretive process might be analogized with archaeology, as the viewer is called upon to excavate the multiple layers of meaning embedded in the surface.