At an early age Kristen Oja discovered what would become the three prime motivators for her art — the family dog, exercise/physical education and nature.

A biology instructor at Blue Mountain Community College, Oja’s current artwork focuses on her perception of the parts of life that bring her joy as filtered through her imagination. To view her latest creations, stop by the Hermiston Public Library as her work is currently on display throughout the month.

Oja became interested in encaustic painting after viewing a friend’s work. Also referred to as hot wax painting, she delved further into the process after taking a class from Walla Walla artist Colleen Monette at Pendleton Center for the Arts.

The molten wax, Oja said, has a translucent quality to it. Attracted to the overall look of the art form, she said it smells good, too.

“I like how it changes from liquid to solid and how you can manipulate it,” she said in a 2015 interview. “It’s great with the layering because you can get a lot of depth.”

In addition, Oja said if you don’t like the appearance, it can be carved off or more layers can be added.

The library is open Monday through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday/Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s located at 235 E. Gladys Ave. For more information, call 541-567-2882 or visit

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