Stephanie Frostad 3

A Distinctive Point of View

Stephanie Frostad’s voice is graceful and delicate. The lines—whether drawn with pencil or brush—in her work are, too. Yet, there is no mistaking the strong point of view from which she approaches each piece.

What brought you to Missoula?

I came to Missoula for graduate school in 1992. Although it was not my intention to remain in Missoula, it ended up being a wonderful place for me to settle. I am so glad to be living and working here now.

Describe your art:

I work naturalistically with an interest in narrative and allegory. In narrative art, my intention is not to tell a story but to evoke one or many. I want the scenario to remain open for interpretations arising from the viewer’s own experience. I also generate studies of plants and animals, objects and landscapes that frequently appear in the figurative compositions I create. Drawing is my first love but I revel in the substance and opulence of oil paint, too. I am currently seeking a new synthesis of drawing and painting media in my art.

Where did you study art?

I began my training at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. I also spent one year at Studio Art Center International in Florence, Italy, while working on my undergraduate degree. I received a Master of Fine Arts degree from UM in 1994.

What inspires you?

Image-making is a fundamental way I respond to life. I am inspired by the appearance of apple blossoms in springtime. I am inspired by news of schoolgirls being kidnapped in Nigeria. I am inspired by events in the lives of my family and friends, books I read, bird song. Virtually anything that intrigues me intellectually or moves me emotionally can spark an artistic idea. The vision might ultimately appear as an allegory, or otherwise removed from my immediate observation, but the breadth of life experiences keeps me exploring. To a great extent, art is a method of inquiry for me.

Who are some of your artistic 

While there are no particular artists I seek to emulate in my art, I admire many. Käthe Kollwitz, Winslow Homer, Johannes Vermeer and Paula Rego are among those who have impacted my creative work. Many writers such as Flannery OʼConnor and Virginia Woolf have also affected my artistic vision.

Tell us about the Riverfront Mural project with Willard:

In 2014 I was encouraged to apply for the position of supervisory artist by the project coordinator and Willard Alternative High School art teacher Gwen Hoppe. After completing the first phase of the Flourishing mural, we renewed our collaboration with another class of Willard students to take the mural further last spring. This one is titled Seasons.

Whatʼs the inspiration for the mural?

I believe the idea of depicting native flora and fauna originated with Nutritional Labs who hosts the mural. We took that basic commission to the Willard students to develop a theme and specify imagery. In the first section of the mural students wanted to show vitality in a landscape that had been ravaged by fire. We brought an array of brilliantly colored blossoms forth on a black ground to symbolize both fire and renewal. In the second section of the mural students were interested in portraying a riparian area in four seasons. This has affected our choice of plants and animals, as well as the palette we are using throughout the imagery. For all that is unique about this central section of the painting, we intend to retain the style for unity. With further funding we hope to create a third section, making this project a large-scale triptych.

You mentioned a third phase to begin in the spring. Tell us about that:

Pending funding through the Missoula Office of Neighborhoods grant program, we will resume our work with a new crop of Willard students this spring. In this process, I take my cues from those students and develop the design with their input. Consequently, it is too soon to identify particular themes for the Riverfront Mural’s third section, but we will certainly continue to celebrate local flora and fauna.

Where is the mural located?

It’s on the Bitterroot Spur Pedestrian Trail, on the east side of Nutritional Labs, at 1001 S. Third St. W.

Where can people view your art?

My recent work, schedule of exhibitions and events are always available on my website: