What does it actually mean to be a woman? That is something local artist, Shar Fagersten, is dedicated to showcasing.
Fagersten graduated Oregon State University in 2015 with a BFA in photography, and most of her work explores the concept of womanhood. As a woman, and a mother of four daughters, she is interested in creating a space for women and others to think again, saying her art is, “very much based on either roles we assign ourselves or assume are assigned to us.”
“A lot of my art is my process of self examination and examining myself in the world,” Fagersten said.
Many of her projects involve pairing a phrase with a picture in such a way that it slightly tweaks your perspective. The goal is to allow people either to continue to see the world as they always have, or “stop for just a moment and consider” something they had never noticed before. “Like to call out people in a safe way.”
What Advice Have You Been Given?
In 2014, Fagersten did a project where she asked women through a Facebook post what advice they had been given, not specifically saying sexist or misogynistic advice. However, the responses she received had those undertones. When asked what stood out, she said the volume of women’s responses stood out more than specific advice.
She paused and said there was also something else, a lady who said the advice she was given for marriage was, “Wear makeup, even an old barn looks better painted.”
Fagersten pared that phrase with black eyeliner on a white tabletop.
What is Something You’ve Wanted to Say?
In a more recent project, Fagersten asked women “what is something you’ve wanted to say in a relationship but never said?’
She is taking the responses and stitching them into fabric. Some people have merely commented on the post and said, “No.” Some have sent her personal messages, many talking about sexual assault.
Fagersten said that knowing all the stories were for art, for representing the experiences of women on a bigger platform and being able to be anonymous in the final product, were important factors in women speaking to her.
She knows that women can find their voice through “other women’s art.” The art works as a connecting point, where someone can look at it and feel less alone, realizing that others have experienced the same thing.
“[We] carry so much without knowing we carry it,” Fagersten said. “My goal, as a woman, as a mother, as an artist, is to help provide a space for women to speak truthfully.”
In addition, art can serve as a place to expand ideas of self.
When questioning yourself, your roles, and how they were created, Fagersten said, “Art can be a safe space to explore those answers.”
By: Hannah Ramsey