Hi everyone! I'm Stephanie. I am a full-time artist and have a studio as well as a full time residency . My husband and I recently started an arts mentoring group called, "Our Story Arts", which gives the kids of inner-city Milwaukee a voice through visual art and creative writing.
My work brought me to this city several years ago, after completing my MFA in St. Louis . I was an adjunct at Wisconsin Lutheran College but left that position to go teach in China last year. While I was there I met my husband, Zach, and we moved back to Milwaukee and got married last July. We live near the lake and love our neighborhood.
My day usually goes like this: Start the day at the studio, meet with clients or have a meeting or two, go to my residency, spend the day painting, and then head home to hang out with Zach or family.
"How did you get started glorifying God with your art?"
I always felt that it was a gift from Him and if I didn't use it, it would be a waste. God gives us all certain characteristics and talents, my just happened to be art. I knew that I communicated the best through visual language at a very young age. I felt that it was very important that I pursued this path and I was blessed to be able to do so. I chose colleges, programs, and mentors that would encourage me to keep going. It hasn't always been easy, but I have been fortunate to have friends, family, and a husband who have told me to stick with it. I am really grateful for them.
"How do you balance marriage and work?"
I am only a year in, so I don't know if I can really speak to that! To be honest though, marriage has really helped me to balance my work and personal life. My day ends at 6 when I pick Zach up from work. Before I was married, I would work all of the time which led to burn out. Being married has helped me to realize that there is enough time in the day to rest, take care of yourself, and have relationships. You just have to get good at time management, and be more focused during the work day.
"What is your unique role as a woman?"
Women are so creative, loving, strong, and compassionate. I am so inspired by women like my Mother Theresa and women I know personally like my sisters and mom. I look to them as my role models and try to emulate their examples.
"Who is your strongest Christian mentor?"
My parents. My father is a pastor and his sermons are so well written and down to earth. My mom joined the church as a teenager, and her faith has always been so sincere. They never shoved religion down my throat, and always allowed us to ask questions and have our doubts. I always felt heard and seen. I know a lot of people have walked away from their childhood faith because they felt they were either brainwashed or forced into it. My parents were very loving and understanding. I always knew they were praying for me too, which is really an amazing feeling.
"Is there anything from Titus 2:3-5, our blog's mission, that you would like to comment on?"
Titus 2:3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
I think that passing wisdom from generation to generation is a beautiful thing. I think about my grandmother, my mother and now my niece and how their faith and advice have been passed down the line. It is really amazing to hear my niece talk about her experience with Jesus and how she looks to her woman role models for guidance. I think that setting a good, loving example for your children and their children is probably one of the most important things one can do on this earth.
"How can we encourage our husband's faith and role in marriage?"
I would say don't be afraid to take the lead and pursue the path God has laid out for you and your family. Women love to see you try, even if it means things don't always work out or you may fail once and awhile. Zach and I love to dream big and praying about those dreams really helps you to decide which ones to go after, how they will glorify God, and help others. Prayer is powerful!
"What is your favorite bible passage?"
"Do Not Worry"...mostly because I have a tendency to worry about everything. I have always seemed to have an overactive imagination, which can be a blessing and a curse. Jesus' sermon on the mount has always brought me a lot of comfort because it provides me with so much practical information on how to follow his plan for our lives.
"...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:33-34
"What do you feel is a threat to a woman’s faithfulness in her home?"
I mentioned it before, but I think worry is extremely harmful, and robs us of joy. I think confession and prayer help us to put our worries aside and to give them to God.
"Was there a moment in your life that was terrible that God strengthened you by?"
Being an artist means you don't always have a lot of money. There have been times when I had to move out of my apartment, forgo things like having a car, and rely on generosity from others. A lot of times people don't understand because it is a career choice. And in actuality they are right. However, I have always known that this is what I should be doing. God has helped me through all of it and has blessed my career immensely.
"Can you share a moment when you saw God's hand clearly guiding you?"
Two years ago I was completely burned out, broke, and depressed. I made some joke to my mom that I should just move to China and she said, "why not?" I don't really know why I decided to do it, but it just felt right. I met my husband the day after I got off the plane, one month later we were a couple, five months later we were engaged, and four months after that we got married. It seems pretty clear what that was all about!
"Ah! What beautiful timing. Love it. What’s next for you?"
I plan on exhibiting new work every few months and collaborating on a book project with a local author which will be called, "The Carriers." I am also working on developing "Our Story Arts" more in the coming year and helping the kids find their own voice through art. www.stephaniebarenz.com
"Stephanie, thank you so much for sharing your art and faith with us. The large variety of experiences you have had are evident in your pieces as they tell a story. Your work is truly remarkable and unique. Every time I look at one of your pieces I notice a new detail. Such depth! On top of everything else, you are quick to gift others from your talent and heart. Continued success on all your endeavors!