AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

April 6, 2012

Local painter is opening her art, spirit, to the community

By Felicia A. Petro/Allied News Senior Reporter
Allied News

GROVE CITY — A Grove City area woman has been showing more of her unique, spiritual art locally, which will include a gala this weekend at Beans on Broad at 141 S. Broad St.

Stacey Hogue, 35, who grew up in Duluth, Ga., specializes in painting faces that often have a spiritual or biblical meaning.

It began when she and her future husband, Nathan, were attending Harding University, near Little Rock, Ark., where she majored in elementary education with an art emphasis. The school is run by their Christian denomination, Church of Christ.

At 21, Hogue studied in Florence, Italy, for a semester and "traveled quite a bit," she said. "It made me realize I wanted to study more on the art side than education."

It's also when painting faces first became an interest to her. 

"I'm fascinated about how many faces can come together," she said. "I enjoy looking at different people's bone structures, eye shapes, from different cultures."

Faces are up-close and personal; however, Hogue doesn't want to recreate a person's face on canvas, but "capture a sense of their character," she added.

After college, she and Nathan lived in Little Rock, where he received his master's in counseling at the University of Arkansas, and she was an elementary and art teacher in North Little Rock School District.

Nathan then became church counselor in Aberdeen, Scotland, for five years, where his wife's love of painting faces increased with the artwork of the late James McBey, a native of Aberdeen, who was an early modern artist around the time of the world wars.

"His portraits really captured me. I love them," Hogue said.

In Scotland, she and Nathan would travel to different European countries on vacation, since it cost too much to fly back to the U.S. for visits. They'd tour churches, museums and other art spots.

"You can see pieces of European art here, but there you can see things dedicated to whole body of work," Hogue said, like Pablo Picasso's "progression as an artist" or Vincent Van Gogh's early works compared to his later works.

Art in Europe is also strikingly commonplace and old, Hogue said.

"You can be in a very small town in Tuscany and the town square is 500 years old," she said. Outside of Venice, in a town called Treviso, there are old frescoes that are "just a part of that town," Hogue added, not preserved gingerly in special spaces.

"In America we tend to look at art and artists as sort of not something that applies to everyday life," Hogue said. "I think in Europe people are used to growing up with art all around them."

The Hogues returned to the U.S. and settled in the Grove City area in 2008 when Nathan got a position at George Junior Republic in Pine Township. They live in Liberty Township; Nathan has family in Hermitage.

After 10 years, Hogue began teaching art again this year. She spends one morning a week with first- through fourth-graders at Grove City Christian Academy, where her son, Kellan, is in preschool.

Since being here, she's opened up to showing more of her artwork, starting in 2010 with a couple of weekend "Artisan" shows at Beans on Broad on South Broad Street in downtown Grove City.

In September, her work was displayed during the "Autumn Art Walk," which featured a number of artists in downtown borough businesses.

"People were surprised at how successful and well received it was by the community. It was a very encouraging thing for artists in the area," Hogue said.

On March 9, she was featured at the annual Project Eve gala at Grove City College, which showcases the art of female students and one professional woman artist. She's shown her paintings at Blue Heron gallery in Volant and Bottlebrush Gallery in Harmony. Woman Creative, a gallery in a suburb of Atlanta, keeps some of Hogue's work on hand.

A few of her face paintings and a piece, called "Time to Face Up," which embodies her work with the RedThread Movement, will be on display among other artists' works at "Creative Be" at Beans on Broad, from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

"Creative Be" is also having workshops focusing on spirituality, art and entrepreneurship next to Beans from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today at the Solid Rock Assembly of God building.

Hogue is a member of the new Grove City Arts Council, which will have a kickoff "Signature Drink Night" at Beans at 8 p.m. March 24, inviting any style of artist "who want to connect and build an official arts community in Grove City," she said. (See www.grovecityarts.org)

Hogue will also display her work at Deer Creek Winery on South Broad for its "Featured Artist Night" series from 6 to 8 p.m. April 5.

"I've been amazed at how many artists there are in this area. This is a very talented area. We have to pull our resources together to make the arts more accessible to the community," she said.

Art is intimately tied to Hogue's faith.

"Creativity to me means an instant connection to our Creator. The way humans are set up, the impulse to create is tied to being made in His image," she said.

"When I started out, my goal was to make something pretty. ... Art for me has become a telling of my own spiritual story. When I'm in the groove of making art, it's a worshipful experience."

Hogue also mixes faith and art together to "alleviate suffering," she said, as spoken in the Old Testament about "caring for the fatherless and downtrodden."

Her work with RedThread (www.redthreadmovement.org) began 1½ years ago.

The ministry rescues, houses, counsels and teaches a vocation to girls who are victims of sex trafficking in Nepal. They learn to weave red bracelets, which RedThread resells to put back into helping the girls. A $3 bracelet cares for the needs of three girls for one day. Girls stay in safe houses for six months during their rehab. The ministry is under Eternal Threads, which offers Fair Trade opportunities world wide.

RedThread featured "Time to Face Up" on its website for some time, Hogue said.

It speaks of "the need to stop seeing people as anonymous, which is why this trade is such a problem. There are so many anonymous girls out there," she said. 

Hogue's newest, artistic venture is "up-cycling" used clothing and painting art on plain-white, heavy-duty, diner-style dishes she finds second hand.

"Up-cycling is not recycling, like breaking something down. It's taking something that didn't have a very useful or attractive purpose and making into something else," Hogue said.

Some of her redesigned clothing will be modeled at "Creative Be" tomorrow.

Hogue's dinnerware craft developed when she planned to paint teacups for her son's teachers for Christmas "and found all this plain, white pottery in thrift stores," she said. The dishes are often U.S. made, so Hogue does not worry about using products that may "support a questionable industry overseas," she added.

Along with the fun of recreating, the fabric and dinnerware projects "satisfy a need for social awareness," Hogue noted. "We throw far too many things away, instead of learning to be content with what we have."

That idea takes her back to her faith.

"I love taking an old, worn out, unfashionable thing someone discarded and making it fun and new and exciting," Hogue said.

"That's something that happens to our spirit when we let Jesus access us. It's like what (the Bible) says about redemption; that nothing is garbage."

Learn more about Stacey Hogue's artwork at www.greenpinetree.wordpress.com

Published March 17, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.