Bold Strokes

Stephenie Hamen’s Intense Palette

By Heather Owens

Using her hands to create was originally a passion rather than a profession for artist Stephenie Purl Hamen. After working in the craft world, then in education and marketing sectors for numerous years, she resigned from her most recent stint at Aldo Leopold Nature Center in 2016 to be a full-time artist. “Art is the place where I can be me and truly express myself,” she says. To Hamen, being an artist means “being truly authentic to myself” and “to voice activism through painting.”

She created a mixed media “Year of Women” series in 2016 to reflect issues impacting women around the globe. “As artists, we are challenged to say the things that need to be said,” she explains. Prolific, especially strong female artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Carmen Herrera and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh continually inspire Hamen. She’s also inspired by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Frank Stella, men renowned for ushering in groundbreaking art movements. And music—vintage jazz, rock, hip hop and Christian music—move her as well.

Even though some of her work is more serious, many of her multi-media abstract pieces incorporate vibrant and cheerful colors to help tell stories, like the funky labels she recently designed for local brewery Untitled Art. Ultimately, being an artist boils down to “taking chances, providing inspiration to family,” Hamen says. “And wearing your heart on your sleeve.”

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