Mixed Media

Ray Papka

About the Artist

From my early childhood I have been fascinated with books and unusual objects. Books allowed my mind to travel everywhere and I liked old, dusty, faded books because they had age which reminded me of history. I am attracted to found objects that look as though they have once come from something interesting, belonged to a mysterious family, or that look valuable, but may have had little or no importance to others such as old forks, buttons, old letters and metal remnants. I always have had collections of small objects, coins, arrowheads, old rusty items, and fascinating “things” in little boxes and cloth bags (my favorite was the old Bull Durham tobacco bags and cigar boxes that I got from the smoke store in my hometown of Thermopolis, Wyoming). My many jobs as a youth often involved carpentry and metal work and helped to develop my “mechanical senses”. I am entirely self-taught in woodcraft, finishes and metalwork, however, my formal training as a research scientist further utilized and expanded my knowledge of photography, layout, technical skills and sense of creativity, design, structure, imagination, and interpretation.

Artist Statement

My art is mixed media and combines assemblage, encaustic painting, the use of books and wood panels as substrates, and found objects as relevant embellishments. The beeswax of encaustic painting allows me to generate layers of information in my artwork, but keep it mysterious….almost dreamy and historical.

My work is continually evolving and is inspired by issues in biology, influence of science in my life, and the major players in the history of science and religion. I utilize the interrelations between math, science, music, philosophy and practical applications in technology. My love for books influenced my decision to recycle them in an altered form and continually utilize themes involving text.