Shar Fagersten, a recent graduate of Oregon State, is already making marks in the wider arts community with a unique approach. Her mediums of choice are photography, acrylic, and mixed media, and although she has a lot to say, her philosophy when it comes to her work is to create art that allows people to ask questions. She wants to present ideas and start conversations with her art, and her most recent exhibits have done just that.
Advice for Women, a photography series that was at the Blackfish Gallery in Portland last month, demonstrates this. The series began with Fagersten asking women around her what ridiculous pieces of advice they have been given. The result? Stunning images, each representing the piece of advice that they are captioned with. One photo shows a coffee pot on a table with the words “Don’t talk too much. Guys don’t like that.” underneath it. Another photo, a simple image of an old typewriter, says, “Learn how to type, so you have something to fall back on.” Overall, the viewer is left with the idea that women are shamelessly held to a strict set of expectations that they shouldn’t have to live up to.
Fagersten has four daughters—their ages range from 6 to 13—and she loves to encourage them in their own artistic abilities as well as incorporate them into her art.
For Fagersten, art has always been a coping mechanism, which is why she is currently working towards her goal of becoming an art therapist. She knows that it can be very healing both emotionally and physically. She has always used it as a way to express emotions that there are no words for. She says that although sometimes she may not be able to vocalize an experience, she “knows what it looks like.”
Fagersten isn’t afraid to get personal, either. She recently went through a divorce and was able to find closure through her art. Although some may interpret her series, Benediction, as being vindictive, she says that it isn’t. By photographing the destruction of her wedding dress in stages, she is able to depict the breaking down of a relationship on many different levels, and through this art piece, she has created a physical representation of something intangible.
Below the nine powerful photographs, the ashes of what was once her wedding dress are displayed in an installation piece. The series begins with “Perfection,” which is her crisp white wedding dress, and it ends with “Closure,” after the last remnants have been swept away and all that remains is the dress form. Benediction was on display at Oregon State University in March, and will be exhibited again during the August Arts Walk on Thursday, Aug. 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. at The Corvallis Advocate Loft.
The Corvallis Advocate Loft is located upstairs at 425 SW Madison Avenue. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for info about future showings.
View more of Shar’s art, learn about upcoming shows, and find information on how to book her on her website, www.sharfagersten.com.
By Hannah Darling