How does the medium of encaustic contribute to your work, technically and conceptually, in ways that other paint media does not?
Encaustic is an incredibly versatile medium that I can use for anything from painting applications to adhering collage to casting three-dimensional elements for the surfaces of my wall-based work. When I graduated from college, I was making mixed media works with acrylic mediums. Shortly after, I discovered encaustic. The transformative power the material has on paper, which acrylic doesn't, has allowed me to push my work in new directions over the years. The biggest leap being when I began using it as a stiffner for paper-based sculptural elements, without the need for armatures.
From a conceptual standpoint, my work has always tied into the theme of memory in various ways. The antique books I work with have had these lives prior to ever entering my studio. Dipping the paper in encaustic medium makes it take on almost a skin-like quality, with all the marks of time and age. There is a preservative quality, yet it retains its lightness and vulnerability.
What are you working on in the studio?
I've been working more and more with mixing photography and encaustic. I have spent a number of work days in the darkroom at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in Michigan learning to make cyanotypes from scratch to incorporate into my works.
I also have been experimenting with other materials to bring into my practice, such as encaustic on clay, and even learning how to use a laser cutter.
How does your practice impact your teaching philosophy? And vice versa?
I always come home from a workshop having learned a new technical aspect of working in encaustic. There tends to be a cross-section of students from varying disciplines in the class, and sometimes questions come up for things I have never tried before. So I usually say, "I'm not sure how this will work, but let's think through it and try it out so we can see what the outcome is." My goal for a workshop is to have the students leave with a working knowledge of the materials. So when they are working in their home studio, they can apply that same thought process and be confident that they are working in a both a safe and archival way. But, still feel free to experiment!
What are you most looking forward to during your time teaching at PenArt?
I think this is my fifth year teaching at PenArt, and it is always such a pleasure to head up to Door County. I always look forward to meeting new students - and seeing returning ones - because everyone brings their unique voice and studio experience to the workshop. It makes for a great collaborative environment of information sharing.
How can we find you and your work on social media and the web?
My work can be seen on my website at http://rehmer-studio.com/