Library exhibit honors women’s artistic history

The work of artist Stephany Vogel will be available for viewing throughout the month of November.

Patrons of the Oak Harbor Library this month may have noticed a collection of hand- and machine-sewn canvas paintings on display among the books.

The exhibit is the work of artist Stephany Vogel, a former Coupeville resident, and it will be available for viewing throughout the month of November.

Vogel grew up in California and attended Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where she studied photography, painting and printmaking. She said she has been an artist her whole life.

Her husband grew up in Coupeville, and they raised their children in town. Her work was featured in the Whidbey Island Studio Tour for several years.

Vogel lives in Pend Oreille County now, but while she was visiting friends and family on Whidbey Island recently, she knew she wanted to exhibit here. She has displayed her work at the library before, and contacted them about doing another display.

This month’s exhibit features a series of canvas paintings which Vogel has removed from their stretchers and embellished with sewn details. Vogel said the sewn additions to her paintings are meant to reference women’s history, including the history of women in her own family.

Historically, painting has been a male-dominated space, she said. Until relatively recently, women have struggled to be painters, but women have always been welcome to sew and work with textiles.

“I like referring to a different history,” she said.

Sewing has also played a role in her family history and development as an artist. Vogel said that until she was around 10 years old, her mother made all her clothes. Though as a child, she didn’t enjoy the hours spent standing still while her mother fit and tailored the clothes to her, Vogel realized as she grew up that she had a strong connection to textile and sewing arts.

“I grew up in a family where women pretty much made everything,” she said.

Vogel said the combination of sewing and painting is a newer genre in the artistic field, and one that she has received some criticism for venturing into. But claims that she wasn’t a serious artist because of her unconventional medium only fueled her to create more.

For Oak Harbor Library personnel, the unique medium was an asset. Library associate Natasha Vanderlinden said Vogel’s work was selected in part to expose library visitors to a type of art they might not have encountered before. The library seeks to display a diverse variety of 2-D art.

“Vogel’s selections seem to fit the mood of November, having broad, colorful strokes with unsettled, foreboding undertones,” Vanderlinden said.

Vogel’s paintings will be on display throughout the month.