Sonya Evanisko, Artist and Professor of Art
photograph of Sonya
About the Artist

Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania now residing in Shepherdstown, WV. Sonya is currently a producing artist and a Professor of Art at Shepherd University. She coordinates the Painting and Drawing program in the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater. She has been with the university since 1993. She received her B.F.A from Indiana University of PA in 1989 and her M.F.A. from Indiana State University, IN. in 1992. She has traveled the world with her students to view cultural sites and master artworks in the most prestigious museums/cities in China, Egypt, South America, and throughout most countries in Europe. She has exhibited her work at many regional and national exhibitions, including The Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center, New York City, NY; The Millennium Arts Center, Washington, D.C.; The Three River’s Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA; The State Captial Museum in Charleston, WV; Stifel Fine Arts Center, Wheeling, WV; Tamarack, Beckley, WV; Avampato Discovery Museum, Charleston, WV; Delaplaine, Frederick, MD; Orensanz Arts Foundation, New York City, NY and The International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Florence, Italy. Her work was featured in the 1998 edition of New American Paintings published by The Open Studios Press, Wellesley MA. and can be seen in several public and private collections in the US and Europe.


About the work

I grow things, collect things and obsessively study them – these are the forces that drive my work. Whether a collage, constructed terrarium or a painted imaginary land, the visually packed compositions are intertwined with collectables, consumer objects and natural elements. The work blurs the boundary between the natural and unnatural.

For two decades tornados have been present in my paintings, drawings and mixed media collages. Tornados are a natural, normal force — but yet viewed as so devastating to humans and their consumer goods. The creative, yet destructive tornado parallels humans, creative/destructive tendencies, although the relationship is often blurred. Occasionally the form of my painted tornados transforms into lines of some “other” energy — most recently the lines echo the quickly disappearing red coral of our natural environment. Juxtaposing consumer goods with the lines, or “other” energy, causes the viewer to question the visual relationships or deeper concepts.

But is it all creative or destructive? In the aftermath of disaster or desire, what good is our obsession with acquiring and what do we make of the overwhelming heap of haphazardly discarded goods?

Coupon pages, advertisements, popular magazines and printed reproductions provide source material for my collages. I recycle and resurrect images from one source — reexamine, transform and alter the context of them — so viewers are challenged to dissect the meaning, arrive at new messages, and question what constitutes their values and desires.

I strive to create images that are strangely beautiful and move quite easily from disturbing to alluring. Like most contemporary artists, I create works that confront pressing social, cultural, and political issues — works that don’t always present fixed messages but may contribute to insightful dialogues. Oftentimes more questions are raised than answered.

Making art fascinates me — it’s an intellectual wandering, an obsessive/compulsive activity, and a place where a juxtaposition or placement of an image to emphasize an idea can possess ration only up to a certain point. I find amusement in the image or idea that makes sense at one moment but, through a slight change in visual placement, may not be rational any longer and I can leave it.