Dipping into history

Jennifer working in her art studio.

Jennifer Williams Terpstra works on encaustic artwork in her studio.

UW-L art professor revives an art form

Dipping yellow into red with fingers. A UW-La Crosse art professor has reached back to artwork popular during the time of Egyptian mummies with inspiration from her great-grandmother’s generation to bring a new medium to campus.

Jennifer Williams Terpstra spent spring 2012 on sabbatical to learn the ancient art form of encaustic, found at the Fayoum Oasis in Egypt. Contemporary methods involve fusing pigments with beeswax and resin, applied to supported surfaces such as wood.

“The work requires rigid supports so the wax doesn’t crack” explains Terpstra.She explores the craft tradition of crochet, utilizing drawing and molten wax to re-contextualize the process and the resultant image. Terpstra has found doilies at Goodwill as the basis for her creations. “They’ve been amazing tools for me,” she notes.

Terpstra applies encaustic paint over the crochet stencils to create a relief. She then adds slightly cooled wax over the top. Most of the pieces are small; 24’’ x 24’’ is the largest piece she has worked on.

Terpstra says she uses crochet for a variety of reasons. “By using crochet, I’m connecting this generation to another,” she says.

The studio process is much different than oil painting, her preferred medium prior to discovering encaustic. “Its very much trial and error,” she explains. “The meaning is emerging from the process.”

Terpstra will share her work during an upcoming art show in the University Art Gallery June 28-Sept. 14. The exhibit will include paintings and works on paper that explore the craft tradition of crochet as domestic adornment.

She’ll also share how to do encaustic in an upcoming workshop at the university Saturday, June 29. The workshop has already sold out, but those interested can be put on a waiting list by contacting bmeuer@uwlax.edu.

Terpstra hopes to introduce encaustic into some of her university art classes once a studio can be set up with proper ventilation for the waxing process. Eventually, she hopes to develop courses in encaustic.

Terpstra says changing from using primarily oils for painting to encaustic is definitely “a re-learning process.” Going forward, she expects to work with both art forms.

She plans to continue working with varied subject matter and processes. “I don’t want to give up on my landscape work,” Terpstra says. “I plan to give attention to both.”

See photos of Terpstra in action in her studio at https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/109328896964480296137/albums/5887914914088008369.

Jennifer brushing artwork.

About the art show

What: Jennifer Williams Terpstra: Transcendence/Immanence: New encaustic paintings
Where: University Art Gallery, Center for the Arts
When: June 28–Sept. 14
• Noon-4 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays through Aug. 21
• Special hours during prior to and during these summer events:
June 27-30 and July 5-7 Summerstage
July 27-28 Art Fair on the Green
Aug. 23-25 Great River Folk Fest
• Regular gallery hours resume Monday, Aug. 26: Noon-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; Noon-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Admission: Free
Special closing reception: 4-6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, with piano music by Daren Williams
Also: Encaustic painting workshop, Saturday, June 29. Currently filled. Get on waiting list: bmeuer@uwlax.edu. An exhibition for encaustic workshop participants runs Nov. 4-25 at the Lincoln Middle School Art Gallery, 510 9th St. South, La Crosse.
Sponsors: UW-L College of Liberal Studies, UW-L Student Association, UW-L Art Department


This painting, “Gift of Daedalus,” by UW-L Art Professor Jennifer Williams Terpstra was done in encaustic — pigment, beeswax and resin — on primed, braced, stable luan wood panels. It began with an ink drawing done directly on the panel, followed by a poured layer of tinted wax, and then stenciled “accretion” layers to finish the piece. Accretion is an encaustic technique involving successive layers of pigment, beeswax and resin that are scraped and fused quickly to produce texture.



Other opportunities to see Jennifer Williams Terpstra’s work:

Oct. 25, 2013 – Jan. 12, 2014 —
Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona, Minn.
Tri-State Invitational: Three Women/Three States
Opening Reception: 5 –7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24
Free for members and partners; $10 for non-members and non-partners
Free hors d’oeuvres and Cash Bar
Hours and more info at: www.minnesotamarineart.org

Artist Demonstration Day with Julia Crozier, Jennifer Terpstra and Nancy Purington
Noon –5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25
Adults: Free with paid admission; Students: free
Visitors to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum will get the chance to meet the artists in the Museum’s Tri-State Invitational: 3 Women from 3 States and witness their creative processes. Each artist will be working with their unique medium – Crozier is a master of acrylic paints, Terpstra utilizes encaustic paints (a wax based medium), and Purington’s abstractions utilize watercolor in an innovative way. The artists will be available to discuss their works and answer questions.

Gallery Walk & Talk with Jennifer Terpstra
2 – 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9
Free; sign-up required
UW-L Painting Professor Jennifer Williams Terpstra will be doing a Gallery Walk & Talk as part of her inclusion in the Minnesota Marine Art Museum’s Tri-State Invitational: 3 Women from 3 States. Terpstra’s encaustic (a wax based painting technique) artworks are unique impressions of her experience with nature, specifically the Mississippi River. Hear Terpstra talk about her perspectives and artistic process as they relate to her life in the Upper Mississippi River Region. Limited to 25 people.

Jennifer Terpstra in studio.Who is Jennifer Williams Terpstra?
Born in Ann Arbor, Mich., Jennifer Williams Terpstra is primarily a painter whose works investigate the ways places, objects and perception affect human imagination and memory. She earned a bachelor’s at Indiana University in 1981 and a master’s of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in1993. She is an associate professor of art at UW-La Crosse, where she has worked since 1997. Terpstra has exhibited in one-person and group shows since 1989. Her work is included in public and private collections throughout the U.S. See more at: http://jenniferwilliamsterpstra.com/

Jennifer Williams Terpstra about her art:
“My work addresses the craft tradition of crochet as domestic adornment, relic and inspiration. I am interested in creating new contexts for crochet work through the medium of encaustic. The paintings acknowledge the needlework practiced by my great-grandmother who, despite becoming sight-impaired late in life, continued to produce remarkable, intricate crochet work. Although the images resemble mandalas, I am interested in creating subtle and not-so-subtle interruptions in their symmetry.

“Rather than recreate the stitch itself, I have chosen to document it through drawing and texture, creating a visual language that parallels the stitch. I am engaged in a play between the tangibility of crochet work and the sometimes elusive, mutable qualities of molten wax and drawing media. The use of wax to reveal and conceal drawn elements embodies the struggle between resistance and awareness. This work connects the elemental, sensory qualities of encaustic with content that addresses memory and time.

“Encaustic is an ancient medium that can be traced back to Greco-Roman mummy portraits found at the Fayoum Oasis in Egypt. Contemporary encaustic methods allow for a variety of ways of combining materials and techniques. The medium involves fusing pigment with beeswax and resin, and is typically applied to a rigid support, such as a wood panel.”