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Lyman’s encaustic work on display during RAW event

Ara Lyman is an emerging artist who works in wax. She paints with wax, burning and carving each layer onto wooden surfaces. (Dan Pelle)
Ara Lyman is an emerging artist who works in wax. She paints with wax, burning and carving each layer onto wooden surfaces. (Dan Pelle)
Jennifer LaRue Correspondent

Using the ancient medium called encaustic (to burn in), Ara Lyman applies layers of wax to wood. Dipping her brush into a palette of colored, melted beeswax, she uses a small torch to burn the layers to bond them to the ones underneath. As the colors change, the urge hits her to scratch into the surface or apply an image from her collection of vintage books and magazines.

The finished product is a collage of sorts, like the piece showing an old-fashioned woman standing amid fluid and organic shapes that look like something you would find under a microscope.

Lyman’s work is rooted in discovery.

“I believe that making art is a part of the path to finding my true self, what it means for me to be a woman in this world today, healing, and forming better relationships,” she said, “Getting to know yourself – good and bad – is a great way to start. I mean, how can you be or do anything for another, without first connecting with yourself? I have found that, for me, art helps with that process.”

Lyman, 38, grew up in a log cabin about 100 miles north of Spokane where she relished nature. She received an associate degree in fine art from Spokane Falls Community College. Lyman’s neighbor Wendy Franklin Miller, who specializes in encaustic art, gave Lyman free lessons for a couple of months.

“I believe there is a reason why Wendy offered to teach me the process,” Lyman said, “It felt like a door opening.”

A mother, yoga instructor and artist, Lyman has shown her art in two group shows at Terrain and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. Recently, she applied and was accepted to Spokane’s chapter of RAW, a nationwide organization made up of creative individuals.

RAW was founded three years ago by Heidi Luerra in California who, while selling her handmade clothing at swap meets, decided there had to be a better way to showcase her art. She began organizing monthly art events. The organization has grown to include 63 locations from California to New York.

On April 26, Spokane will host its first monthly RAW event at The Vault, 120 N. Wall St. Lyman, along with other visual artists, fashion designers, musicians, filmmakers, performance artists, hair and makeup artists, photographers and models, will showcase her work at the event. It all came about when local artist and art enthusiast Brittany Sullivan heard that RAW was looking for a showcase director in Spokane and she jumped onboard.

“There are incredible artists in Spokane,” Sullivan said, “I’m honored to be a part of this.”

Lyman agrees there are incredible artists in Spokane as well as a supportive community and she is looking forward to sharing her personal discoveries with others through art.

“I can’t afford a counselor,” she said, “but I can put myself into my art and that seems to be the best medicine right now.”

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