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Hadley's multidisciplinary art studio a hub for creativity

When Stephanie Hadley opens her studio for workshops or for her students, in between tables and easels are artists of all levels.
Artist Stephanie Hadley in her studio right in the heart of Stettler. From creative glass artwork to painting

When Stephanie Hadley opens her studio for workshops or for her students, in between tables and easels are beginners, strivers, advancing amateurs, retirees, even some professionals creating art, chipping away at that piece of glass, or putting the last stroke on the canvas.

Hadley's studio is not only multidisciplinary, but it is for artists only.

"I am drawn to art because it is for everyone, I believe we are all artists or creatives in some way and it is something that has no rigid boundaries and allows us to communicate in a way that can't be explained," said Hadley. "One of my favourite art sayings is: Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."

Raised in a household that nurtured creativity and encouraged it, most of Hadley's childhood experience has been in performing arts, such as singing, dance and drama, in fact, Hadley never took up art in high school.

"But I always enjoyed drawing, and making things, as it was something that just felt very natural and more like a hobby," said Hadley.

In her early 20s, when Hadley started painting windows, she realized that it was something that she truly enjoyed and might want to take up.

But life had some different curveballs for Hadley, which led her to pursue further education and so she enrolled in design classes.

"It was probably the toughest years of my life, but opened up a whole new world for me," said Hadley. "And shortly after graduating I took up a job as a visual merchandiser in Grand Prairie."

However, it was just not visual merchandising, but design too, and Hadley found herself at the end of nine years, being an instructor, program coordinator, marketing manager, among other things, but this was all at the Centre for Creative Arts.

"I worked alongside and learned from many remarkable artists during that time, developing skills in pottery, glass fusing, stained glass, watercolours, oil painting, photography, metals, music and more," explained Hadley. "I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to explore so much and meet so many talented people during that time, many of whom I will no doubt be friends with for life."

Hadley's studio is her way of giving back to the Stettler community.

When she moved back to her hometown from Grand Prairie after all her adventures, she missed her 'tribe' and it inspired her to share her knowledge.

"To help connect some of my artist friends with my community through workshops and other events, and make Stettler a little more interesting," said Hadley. "My day job can be very dark or stressful at times, and being able to come home and create art alone or with others, is a great way for me to de-stress and stay balanced."

Hadley's multidisciplinary art studio provides afterschool programs for children abover six years, a variety of adult programs, visiting artist workshops and other events, including private bookings by request.

"I also work as a freelance artist and have ongoing projects of my own, which I use the space for," added Hadley. "My love of art and what it can do pushes me to share it with others, and to help others discover their own creative interests and skills."

Giving of her talents and time selflessly is an art that Hadley has perfected.

In 2004 she founded a Healing Arts Program in Grande Prairie at the Centre for Creative Arts, which began as a pilot project with the John Howard Society-Reintegration Program (outreach high school).

"Right away it was obvious to me that such access to the arts was very beneficial to youth who were struggling in one or more areas, because I witnessed students open up, gain confidence, discover skills, make future plans, and just have an overall increase in quality of life when being exposed to the arts," explained Hadley.

After moving back to Stettler Hadley felt very strongly about offering something similar to youth in the community, so she approached the Stettler Outreach School and for the past six years she has volunteered, coordinated and facilitated an art and design program for the students.

"I have also volunteered as an in-school mentor for the past three years with a very artistic young girl, with whom I have formed a great friendship and it has been a pleasure seeing her thrive through her creativity," said Hadley. "I feel really good about being able to share the knowledge and passion I have for the arts with young people in my hometown, because it can be hard to find opportunities or exposure to the arts in a rural setting, and so I am happy to give back what I can."

Hadley has painted large murals in the Stettler Elementary School and at the Performance Physio, besides painting the windows at Well's Furniture, Stettler GM and several other local businesses for many years.

Hadley is also known as the 'leggings lady'.

"In May of 2014 I attended a leggings party at my cousin's place and I was amazed at the comfort and fun patterns and noticed that others were very taken with the leggings," said Hadley. "Being a contract worker at the time, I knew I would be unemployed during July and August and thought it would be fun to have something to do, so as it turned out, the leggings craze was something I could not have anticipated and it quickly became a very busy side project."

Through this initiative, Hadley has met many great people and has been overwhelmed by the support to her little business and the love of leggings.

"It has been a lot of fun, and even though it has quietened down in the past few months, I still have an ongoing demand for them," said Hadley.