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Artist Statement

Care and Display of Encaustic Works of Art


Resume Highlights

Recent Exhibitions



In my experience Art = Transformation.

Creating, teaching, viewing – each of these experiences opens the door to dialogue with a world of unanticipated possibility. Possibility is the intimate partner of uncertainty and risk, which I acknowledge and embrace. My work is a presentation of the use of color, abstracted landscape and architectural imagery to express the experiences of intimacy, identity, grief and the search for place.

Encaustic is a highly durable wax-based paint most frequently composed of a mixture of beeswax, damar resin and pigment. The paint is heated on a warm palette and applied to an absorbent, rigid surface where layers are fused to one another allowing the artist to create a range of stunning effects. Unlike oil paints, encaustic will not yellow or darken over time. It is impervious to water and does not need to be framed under glass. As with all drawings and paintings encaustic works of art should be displayed out of direct sunlight.

Though encaustic is an ancient medium (see The History of Encaustic Paints) it is becoming the material of choice for a range of contemporary artists due to its versatility. In addition to being applied using typical painting technique it can be scraped, carved, modeled sculpted and collaged making it a dynamic and exciting material.

In the early 70s I studied design and ceramics at the Aarhus Art Academy in Denmark. During that time of technical growth I was also exposed to art making as a social responsibility. Our weekly critiques were based equally in considerations of aesthetics and social practicality - including the economic impact of each piece. As a young American new to this way of thinking I felt both intrigued and constrained. In response, I found myself pushing self-set boundaries to create more sculptural and unique work, which was difficult to analyze from a production standpoint. However, the cultural understanding of artist-as-integrated-citizen, rather than outsider, took hold and continues to inform my thinking about inclusive social constructs and being an artist. Returning to the States I chose to employ myself in socially useful ways: midwife, mother, art teacher, educational leader, even as I continued to explore the possibility of art making as both expression and understanding. At times my artistic life came to the foreground and included showing and selling my work through commissions, gallery representation, juried shows and open studios. At times showing my work receded as a priority, but its creation always sustained me. In July of 2014 my husband and I moved to Port Townsend, WA from New York City in order to create a life where art making could become my central occupation.

2016 - “Radical Change”, Group Exhibition, Northwind Arts Center, Port Townsend, WA
2015 - “Alchemy of Abstraction”, Group Exhibition, Northwind Arts Center, Port Townsend, WA
2015 - “Expressions Northwest”, Group Exhibition, Northwind Arts Center, Port Townsend, WA
2015 - “Art Port Townsend – Open Studios” Port Townsend, WA
2013 - “The Sketchbook Project Traveling Exhibition”, Brooklyn, NY
2012 - “Gowanus Open Studios”, Brooklyn, NY

William Grimes, “Gallerists to the People”, New York Times, October 25, 2012

2003 - M.S. Educational Leadership, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
1991 - B.A. Painting / Art Education, Norwich University, Montpelier, VT
1975 - Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
1971-1973 - Arhus Kunstakademie, Arhus, Denmark

photo by larkin small

photos by larkin small

photo by larkin small

© 2016 Thya Merz          Port Townsend, WA            Design and Development by Bootstrap Commercial Arts