PROVINCETOWN- The motto of this year’s Sixth International Encaustic Conference is “All Waxing, No Waning” and from the sound of things, there will be no waning at this year’s conference.
Encaustic, for those of you who are not in the know, is the use of making art with a paint that has been mixed with beeswax and fixed with heat after its application. Some may see this as a fad or a novelty, but encaustic has been used as early as ancient Egypt. Artists like Jasper Johns used to make his own beeswax paints, but as of 20 years ago companies have been manufacturing beeswax paints to accommodate artists’ needs.
It’s safe to say that encaustic is no passing fad and the International Encaustic Conference is a testament to that.
The conference journey began with artist Joanne Mattera and her book The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax published in 2001. The influx of e-mail Mattera accumulated as a result of the book being published lead her to believe that there was a lot more discussion ahead and interested professional artists who wanted more information. “You have an idea for something, and then others have to think it’s a great idea too for it to get off the ground,” says Mattera.
Thus after much planning and deliberation, figuring out the format of the conference, who would speak, where to have the event, the conference was born north of Boston in 2006. The conference became a place to learn, a place to network and build professional relationships among artists but was becoming larger and larger with each passing year.
Knowing the conference needed a larger venue to meet the needs of attendants, Mattera put a post on Facebook looking for an institution that loved artists. Cherie Mittenthal, executive director of Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill answered the call and immediately e-mailed Mattera to have the conference in Provincetown. Mittenthal was then also instrumental in arranging accommodations at the Provincetown Inn for conference space.
The conference this year consists of a keynote speech, pre-conference workshops from May 29-31, the actual conference from June 1-3 and post conference workshops from June 4-8. The conference includes talks and panels from professional artists including topics like ‘The Influence of Science on Art’ and ‘Ephemeral Figures in Wax’. Some workshop titles include ‘Material Awareness with Sculpture’, ‘Photography and Encaustic’ and ‘Constructing Bricolage: Adhering, Fastening and Problem Solving’ to name a few.
Though most of the conference is closed to the public, as the conference requires pre-registration, many Provincetown galleries will host a free gallery walk Friday, June 1st from 5 pm-10pm. All galleries involved will have a photograph of a wax ball in their windows.
But the conference is not just all about wax. Mattera is hoping the conference will help dispel the notion that encaustic is a marginalized art form or a novelty. “We’re artists making art and we happen to make art using wax,” says Mattera. “I’m a painter who found a medium I really love and able to bring together others that love that medium.”
For more information on the conference visit http://encausticconference.blogspot.com.