The studio practice I have maintained for thirty years has always paralleled, and often intersected philosophically, with my work as an early childhood educator. The unique creativity of a young child’s art work reflects her ability to work unselfconsciously, achieving flow effortlessly. I value my time with my students, as it fills me with joy, and teaches me daily how to live in the moment. I try to bring the same sense of being present and open to discovery that I observe in my students to my work as an artist. My work evolves over time, and is often in series format. Recent themes include the passage of time, transformation, and the cycle of life. My most recent series, Hand Work, delves into all three of these themes. In this body of work I pay homage to women’s craft work by repurposing, or up-cycling, the crochet doily into a work of fine art. Because of the versatility of the encaustic medium I use, I am able to embed the doilies into the painted surface, or use them to make an impression in the paint. It is very satisfying to transform and give new life to these beautiful, hand made objects. With this work I also feel connected to the greater world wide movement of women artists who are bringing a new awareness and appreciation to the humble crafts of crochet and knitting through the surprise installation process known as yarn bombing.
Willa Vennema is a Maine based artist working in the encaustic medium. She resides in Portland during the winter, and spends the summers on Swans Island off the coast of Mount Desert Island. Vennema’s paintings range from semi-representational landscapes and seascape to abstract works which incorporate collage elements. Vennema has a BA in Studio Art and Art History from Oberlin College, Ohio, and a BFA in Studio Art From The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NYC. Vennema has had numerous solo exhibitions, and she is represented at the Portland Art Gallery, Portland Maine, and The Harbor Square Gallery, Rockland, Maine. Her work is in over 150 private collections nationwide.