Joanne Mattera’s 2001 book, “The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax,” has been a guiding light for encaustic artists since its publication in 2001. She founded the International Encaustic Conference, IN 2007, which will be held for its 17th year from May 31 through June 3 at the Providence Inn and Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill; she’s now its Director Emerita.
Built on several years of entries under the same name, Mattera’s latest book, the self-published “Italianità: Contemporary Art Inspired by the Italian Immigrant Experience,” has a complementary exhibition, “A Legacy of Making: 21 Contemporary Italian American Artists,” that is on view through the end of April at John D. Calandra Italian American Institute in Manhattan. Her next solo exhibition, featuring paintings on paper that Mattera produced during the pandemic, is scheduled for February at the Arden Gallery on Boston’s Newbury Street, which has shown her work for 22 years. Details on all three can be found on her website, joannemattera.com.
Artscope Managing Editor Brian Goslow exchanged questions with Mattera prior to the Christmas holiday as she was commuting between homes in Massachusetts and Manhattan, “Salem and the Upper West Side,” on what she calls her third home, “The Merritt Parkway.”
BRIAN GOSLOW (BG): How long did the online series of “Italianità”- related entries run and when did you decide they would make a good book?
JOANNE MATTERA (JM): When the former president, still in office, started spitting out despicable things about immigrants, I felt the need to say something about my Italian family’s experience, which was one of hard work, kind people and a struggle to navigate different cultures in two languages and multiple dialects. In the summer of 2018, I wrote one blog post about my mother’s side of the family and another about my father’s. Once I opened the door to those memories, a river came rushing out and I was compelled to write a memoir.