“Playful” is how St. Paul artist Stephanie Frey describes her art.

“It’s a combination of drawing lines and color,” said Frey, a teacher in the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District.

Frey’s exhibit titled “Living History” is showing through Sept. 21 at the Hutchinson Center for the Arts. It features 20 pieces broken up into three types of work: 10 small gouache paintings, five pen-and-ink drawings and five comic book page drawings.

“I picked the title because it’s a lot about my personal life,” she said. “Documenting and looking around at the things in my life — a living history of my life.”

Frey hopes viewers will look at the show from their own perspective.

“They should consider their own living history,” she said. “There are so many stories. Everyone has their own life. This is one tiny story. Maybe we have some commonalities — something in my pictures that looks familiar to you.”

Frey connected with the Hutchinson Center for the Arts when she saw a posting on a website.

“I had a friend who got married in Hutchinson last fall,” she said. “I thought it was a really beautiful community with a lot of open space. All the images in the show are from where I live — more of an urban setting. It’s interesting to see the different settings.”

Lisa Bergh, executive director of the Hutchinson Center for the Arts, learned of Frey when she submitted a proposal via the center’s annual call for art.

“The mission of our exhibition series is to present a wide variety of artists working in a variety of mediums,” Bergh said. “I was drawn to her point of view using comics and illustration. Stephanie’s comics and illustrations are presented like snapshots but ultimately stream together a narrative of her day-to-day life that will be easy for viewers to see themselves in.”

EARLY YEARS

Frey was born and raised in the Twin Cities and spent much of her time in Mound.

“I loved it,” she said. “There was a lot to do.”

She has been an artist for as long as she can remember — probably since age 2 or 3.

“I always had crayons and markers and things around,” she recalled. “My mom was artistic. She used to do a lot of charcoal drawings. Now’s she’s into quilting, fiber arts.”

After graduating from Mound Westonka High School, she studied illustration and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul.

“I tend to go to that illustrative style,” Frey said. “I’m more of an illustrator. I did a little freelance here and there. I’m an elementary art teacher during the school year. I teach K (kindergarten) through fifth grade for the Prior Lake-Savage District.”

With the new school year just days away, Frey said she is looking forward to returning to the classroom.

“It’s a lot of fun working with kids,” she said. “Seeing them kind of express things visually is very exciting. It’s a really cool way to get to know the kids. They come up with some really wild drawings and paintings.”

CREATIVE PROCESS

Frey is inspired by the world around her.

“I usually take time with my thumbnail sketches in my sketchbook,” she said. “I do a nice ink drawing and edit it in Photoshop (an image editing software program). I take photos and draw them, paint them strange colors. I do a lot of drawings. I tend to do black and white, but it’s fun to do color sometimes, too.”

At present, Frey is working on a new series.

“It combines photography and gouache painting,” she said. “Hopefully I can prepare that for gallery visits and traveling shows. Right now, it’s called ‘Minnesota Seasons.’”

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