As our founding editor, Maritza Ruiz-Kim, wrote in her initial description of ProWax Journal, “This compilation of artists’ professional experiences and knowledge is drawn from the contributions of ProWax members.” The first issue of PWJ appeared in September 2013, the result of a fortuitous “what if” presented by Maritza to our group.
ProWax, the group
ProWax, a private Facebook group I founded in 2011, brings together artists working in wax and encaustic. What we view as the “encaustic community” is in fact comprised of several groups, some professional and some not, which attract artists working at all levels of experience and achievement. As a professional artist who has worked seriously in encaustic for three decades, I was particularly interested in the conversation that might take place within a small collegial group whose experience was similar to mine, so I invited a few colleagues to participate.
ProWax has grown to an enthusiastic international collective of over 150 painters, printmakers, sculptors, gallerists, curators and writers, all of whom have a professional interest in or involvement with wax. While we remain largely an online community, we meet informally in real time at the International Encaustic Conference and in regional get-togethers and exhibitions. (The artists in ProWax can hit at least four out of these six criteria: solo show at a commercial or non-profit gallery; curated museum group show or solo; commercial or co-op gallery representation; working in encaustic for five years or more; teaching regularly at a respected venue; demonstrated accomplishment, such as grants, residencies, awards, tenure, or entrepreneurial effort. There are no dues or officers. Entry into ProWax is by invitation.)
ProWax Journal has marked our “coming out” in a way that links our group name to this publication. Our members are its editor and contributors. The parameters that guided the founding of ProWax remain in place: to consider the issues regarding encaustic in our own practice, as well as in exhibitions, organizations and events. While PWJ is conceived as being by and for members of ProWax, we open the window, so to speak, so that anyone interested in our conversation may listen in. Our goal is to raise the bar by information and example. Community participation is an option via comments to the articles. And with Issue 13, we have extended an invitation to the entire encaustic community via Open Call, which is posted on the sidebar.
Another way we have opened our efforts to the community is through ProWax Forum, a Facebook page founded and run by Deborah Winiarski. “ProWax Forum is a discussion group for all things art-related with a focus on encaustic material, technique and vision. Members include professional artists working in the medium of encaustic and those interested in learning from us,” writes Winiarski. Admission is by request.
Nowhere do we identify our work as “encaustic art” or ourselves as “encaustic artists.” Most of us trained as artists and are familiar with, if not fluent in, a variety of mediums. Some of us teach encaustic entrepreneurially or a range of art topics and techniques in post-secondary institutions. While the encaustic community is home for many of us, we are committed to an involvement in the contemporary art mainstream and to the conversation that our work has in it. This is a conversation we continue via our individual projects as arts editors, bloggers, collectors, critics, curators, educators, and gallerists, and which we hope will be furthered here in PWJ.