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Capturing history through artwork

Stephanie Hagens makes Denver easy on the eyes, one brushstroke at a time.
The UNC-W junior and 2003 East Lincoln High School grad has built a portfolio of public work throughout Denver.
Her portrait of Audrey Hepburn placed best in show in the Lincoln Arts Council county-wide exhibition in 2003.
More significantly, the art major had the opportunity to design a memorial emblem dedicated to three classmates who were killed in car accidents.
The marble monument, with the fallen student’s initials intertwined to form the shape of an angel, now rests outside East Lincoln High School, a permanent recognition of the student’s lives and a reminder for others to drive safely.
Most of her local works focus on Holy Spirit Catholic Church, where she is a parishioner.
The parish priest, Father Joseph Ayathupadam, first asked her to do a mural for the children’s art room located in the church’s new activity center.
The 9.5 by 24 feet mural of Noah’s Ark took Hagens over 40 hours to complete.
Most remarkable is that she only used the three primary colors, mixing them to create the vivid scene.
“I tried to be economical because I was donating both my time and money to the project,” she said.
Normally customers pay muralists thousands of dollars for their work.
“They got a good deal off me,” she said.
Kidding aside, she appreciates the opportunity to volunteer her talents, believing it helps her hone her skills as much as it helps her community.
“Working as a muralist is good experience as far as getting the chance to paint on a large scale,” said Hagens. “It’s harder because you’re painting on a 90 degree angle, parallel to yourself.”
Church members were so pleased with her art room painting that they commissioned a large-scale mural of a dove for the foyer of the activity building.
Using acrylic paint, she hopes to create the bold look of stained glass in order to brighten up the otherwise functional area, she said.
The third-generation artist became interested in art from a young age, influenced by her grandmother and mother’s love for the craft.
Growing up, she says, she used to copy figures from magazines for practice.
“It started as a competition with my sister, like who would bring home the art that mom would put on the refrigerator door,” she said.
When people consider her art, she doesn’t expect them to find any deeper meaning than what she already intends, she said.
“My art is just something that people can look at and enjoy,” she said. “I still need to find my purpose as an artist.”
Upon graduation, Hagens hopes to pursue a masters degree in business “because its more practical.”
“It’s actually a good combination with an art degree,” she said. “I’d love to be a creative director for a company and travel abroad.”
In the meantime, she hopes to contribute more of her time to make a lasting impression on her hometown.
“Art turns into history and captures history,” she said. “It’s just as valid as literature, music or photography.”

by Katie Rozycki

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