MCC Alumni Stephani Hopwood exhibit in MCC Ray Frederick Gallery begins Sept. 5
MARSHALLTOWN – The role as a mother and stepmother. The busy, beautiful, vibrant, noisy, and at times even overwhelming life is just one portion of what has influenced Marshalltown Community College Alumni, Stephani Hopwood’s painting exhibit, “Life Lately.”
Hopwood’s exhibit will open Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 9 am and will be on display until Friday, Sept. 29 at noon.
Being a stay-at-home mom is just a small portion of what has influenced Hopwood’s paintings. “When I get an opportunity to sit down and paint, I am able to remove myself from any responsibilities and expectations and get lost in the process,” she explained. “My style is tied to nature and all of its chaotic beauty. I use a lot of organic lines, dots and other markings as well as vibrant colors to bring life and movement to my art. I try to capture the chaos, noise, joy, fun, and beauty that life holds. The titles of my paintings are all less commonly used words that describe pieces of my life lately.”
Hopwood has loved creating as long as she can remember. She took every art class that she could fit into her schedules throughout high school and college. She always had the support of her parents in her artistic pursuits. “My parents truly fed my creative spirit by buying me supplies, showing great interest in my work and giving me free reign over the walls of my bedroom.”
She used her artistic abilities to help support her local church, New Hope while she was in high school and college creating various kid’s rooms, stage design and props. “I have always felt closer to my creator when I am creating myself, so I really treasure my time spent art making.”
Hopwood completed her AA degree at MCC in Early Childhood Education and Art. In 2018 she returned to school at Edgewood College in Madison, WI to pursue Art Therapy.
The instructors that Hopwood had through her art education were also a big influence in how she paints. “I have had truly brilliant art teachers over the span of my education. Will Hildebrandt, my teacher at East Marshall High School, really helped me to explore every form of art making and allowed me to spend all of my free time in the art room. My first real abstract painting was the result of him challenging me to not waste the paint left on my pallet. He handed me a small canvas and said, “There are only five minutes left in class, don’t waste that.” I still have that painting and look at it often as a reminder of how far I have come.”
“I still use skills that I learned in my art courses at MCC. Tim Castle is a great educator and I remember him pushing my art further than I ever would have done on my own at that time. My art was more planned and rigid back then, everything was created with a specific end product in mind and little to no emotion. Tim encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, work on larger scales and to better connect with what I was creating.”
This will be Hopwood’s first exhibit in the Ray Frederick Gallery and the MCC campus since she shared her work as a student. Along with being an alumnus, Hopwood’s father, Kevin Benzing is a professor of physical education at MCC. “As a little girl I would come to the college with my dad for various reasons and I always loved walking by the art gallery and peeking in the big windows,” commented Hopwood. “When I was attending MCC I would stop in between classes to see the different exhibits. It has long been my dream to have my art in the gallery, so this is truly a dream come true.”
Hopwood incorporates creativity and artistry in her every day selling paintings, other various commissioned items as well as having a small business selling handmade earrings online and at vendor fairs.
Hopwood hopes her paintings will spark feelings of joy and fun in others because that is what they have done for her. The majority of paintings on exhibit will be for sale. The Ray Frederick Gallery is open weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information contact MCC Art Professor Tim Castle at 641-844-5776 or Tim.Castle@iavalley.edu.