For Immediate Release
Local artist’s big trip down South made possible with support from CFSO and the Thea Haubrich Legacy Fund
Bethany Handfield was thrilled when she received the news from Cherie Mittenthal, the organizer of the 11th Annual Encaustic Conference that she was one of only two artists in Canada invited to this prestigious conference in Provincetown, MA via a bursary. There is fierce competition for bursaries as they are open internationally with only nine given out in 2017. There was only one hitch on accepting- the greater expense of getting there.
For those unfamiliar with encaustic, it is a modern take on an ancient style of painting. Pigmented beeswax is applied to a substrate using a heat source as part of the application process. In 2006, Handfield took an encaustic class with local artist and teacher Thea Haubrich and a wonderful relationship began. Said Handfield, “When I took my first class with Thea I was immediately hooked. Encaustic has a beautiful luminosity to it that is unlike any other medium I had worked with. Thea was an amazing and generous teacher so part of the draw was also continuing to learn from her. It was a huge honor in 2011 when Thea invited me to show with her in a dual art exhibition we called Untangled.”
When Thea was unable to continue in her art supply and teaching business due to illness, she asked Bethany to help out. “I was very reluctant to start teaching at first as Thea was so well respected and knowledgeable on the topic. I could not have done it without her encouragement and support. I can honestly say that I would not have advanced as far in my practice and career without Thea’s strong encouragement.”
Sadly Thea passed away in 2013 from her illness. Thea’s husband Peter and son Maarten set up the Thea Haubrich Legacy Fund in her honor with the Community Foundation South Okanagan (CFSO). The goal of the foundation is to encourage other artists wanting to learn encaustic through bursaries that would help them with educational costs. Bethany Handfield is the 2017 recipient of the fund and will be using the bursary to facilitate her journey to the Encaustic Conference in Massachusetts in July.
“I am so appreciative to the Community Foundation and the Shatford Centre for supporting my application. It has a deeper meaning coming from the Thea Haubrich Legacy Fund and evokes great emotion. Thea and I had always hoped to go to this conference together and because of the fund, CFSO is helping to make part of that dream a reality. I will forever be grateful to her for bringing the gift of encaustic into my life and for her encouragement of my artistic growth.”
Bethany was the Meadowlark Nature Festival artist in 2015 and exhibits art frequently in the Okanagan. She continues to teach and is the coordinator of the WE: Project at the South Okanagan Women in Need Society which brings nurturing creative classes to the women and children that SOWINS’ serves. She has been nominated in the PDCAC Art Awards’ Visual Arts & Arts Educator categories for the past several years and was recently published as a guest artist in Linda Robertson’s foundational text Embracing Encaustic: Learning to Paint with Beeswax (2nd Edition).
Over the next few months Bethany will be teaching art classes to help raise funds for her trip, including Exploring Encaustic, the 4th annual 5 day encaustic class, that will be held at SOWINS with partial proceeds from class fees being donated to the SOWINS’ WE: Project.