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Featured Exhibitor: Donna Stepien

Donna Stepien is full of passion for her work, and has found ways to incorporate art into every aspect of her life. Over the last thirty years, she's been working as an educator in graphic design and communication design. Stepien has always had a love of art from a young age. Growing up, she worked for her father’s printing company. It was there that she first experienced the disconnect between producing something practical in terms of printing, and producing the conceptual idea of the artist at hand. In life, it became her goal and hope to bridge this gap, but the journey is never linear. Her path to making art took off in the late 1980’s when she was presented with the opportunity to substitute teach for a professor at a college in New York. She decided to return to school and received a masters in design to become a professor herself.

Working as a professor, Stepien was able to better explore the world of art. She began having her students work with a concept as well as a finished product. Throughout this process she incorporated aspects of art that fascinated her, such as proportions, geometry, structure, and theory. She taught the practical side as well, preparing students for how their artwork would be printed when it was finished. Another concept that interested her was alternative forms of education in the primary level schooling system. She ended up finding ways to implement these methods, from people such as Rudolf Steiner, into her college level courses. It was at this point in her career that on the side of full-time teaching, she began to create her own artwork.

Over the last eight years, Stepien switched to part-time teaching and began focusing more on her work. Throughout this time she began exploring and playing with new ideas, getting to know different materials and substrates. This fall has been her first semester not teaching, which has given her the time and opportunity to start building up her business. Stepien has been working on creating her online website, ZlotyDesign, and holding workshops for other educators about how to incorporate design into teaching. She is a part of the New England Book Arts and the College Book Arts Association where she does sketchbooks and artist books as well as finding ways to integrate art into education. With a grant she received, Stepien was able to participate in an Eastern European educational immersion program, where she taught zinemaking to Polish students between the age of eight and fourteen. This was an incredible experience for her, one she recalls fondly, “they made the greatest zines.”

Stepien is excited to showcase some of the work she specializes in at the upcoming Northampton Fair. This includes artist books, handmade journals, and handmade sketchbooks. Art is what she loves, “On a very personal level, it helps me to slow down.” Art has become a way to find peace within herself, to manage her time and create something beautiful. Mindfulness is important to Stepien, on her own and with others, she works to incorporate meditation and yoga into the process of making art. She has always wanted to be an artist, and today she's excited to share something so meaningful to her with others.

*Featured above is a personal piece from Stepien titled "Why I Do Not Know" a contribution to "Absence and Presence" a collaborative in 1998 - Find more about it on ZlotyDesign

Written by Meghan Cenci

Published November 9, 2022


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