Today FF2 is ecstatic to celebrate artist Deb Stoner on the seventh anniversary of her exhibition “A Year in the Willamette Valley,” which showcased Deb’s photographs not at a museum or studio, but at the Portland International Airport. The exhibition aimed to bring art to those not currently seeking it out, but who perhaps needed most to be reminded of the beauty of the natural world during a long day of traveling. This theme of integrating art into people’s daily lives connects to Deb’s work with Pomegranate, a printing company that advertises “art you can bring home.” PomCom offers fans of Deb’s photographs the ability to incorporate them into their daily lives through gorgeous floral calendars and jigsaw puzzles.
In a 2021 interview with FF2 contributor Elisa Shoenberger, Deb explained that she first became enamored with art through exposure to it in school. “In high school in California in the 70s, they had an amazing fine arts program, including jewelry making,” Deb revealed. “I had a pretty solid foundation with lost-wax casting and fabricating metals. I loved that. But I had very practical parents who said you should get a degree, so you can get a job because nobody could imagine that you can get a job in the arts.”
In accordance with her parents’ wishes, Deb enrolled at UC Davis, where she obtained her BS in Geology. After working for a period as an apprentice in a jewelry store, Deb then went on to earn her MFA in Jewelry and Metals from San Diego State University. Deb’s work with jewelry always required in some part a knowledge of photography, which she also studied during her time at graduate school, and which captivated her. Deb told FF2, “I was drawn to the instantaneous nature of digital photography.” Deb’s interest in and talent for photography only continued to blossom, and soon she developed her own unique style for which she is known today. “Along the way, I started using a flatbed scanner as a way of gathering the image data rather than using a camera,” Deb revealed. “That became ‘a thing’ that I became known for, using a scanner in a really innovative way – ‘working flat.’”
Deb’s photos exhibit the minuscule details of their subjects, and freeze all these living things into one perfect moment, before decay.
For a new project, Deb began to gather plants and bugs from her garden to scan into still images. The high-resolution photos exhibit the minuscule details of their subjects, and freeze all these living things into one perfect moment, before decay. Deb unveiled these creations publicly in 2015 at the Camerawork Gallery. Though the images are quintessentially Deb, they are also distinct from her newer work because they are in black and white. The color which comes with the “A Year in the Willamette Valley” exhibition adds vibrancy to her work, and a reminder of the life of the plants and insects captured in the photos.
Deb’s rich, colorful images translate perfectly onto Pomegranate’s jigsaw puzzles. Though Deb had been working on the puzzles before the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for them skyrocketed over quarantine as people sat at home itching for a good distraction. Deb’s images, though perfect for viewing in a museum setting, also work flawlessly as the subject of a puzzle. Each petal in her photos is unique. Each colorful bug or winding vine stands out from the black background behind it, and yet offers puzzle lovers a welcome challenge in fitting it into the bundle of life before them on the cardboard. The serenity of Deb’s photographs also offers people a moment of peace while sliding puzzle pieces into place, and a contemplation of art and nature to assemble on their own dining room table.
Deb has received grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Oregon Arts Commission, as well as a fellowship from the latter. Deb was invited to take up an Artist-in-Residency position at the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts in 1989, which introduced her to the city of Portland—her home and work center still today. She is an interdisciplinary artist, with skills which reach far beyond photography, including the design of eyewear. In addition to being a working artist, Deb is also a teacher, and she has taught at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the Penland School, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and Ireland’s National College of Art and Design.
Deb Stoner’s photographs shine in any setting in which they are encountered. The vivid, striking nature of the images invites viewers to contemplate the smaller things in this world, and, through them, the bigger picture.
© Reese Alexander (7/29/23) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Elisa Shoenberger’s 2021 interview with Deb here.
Visit Deb Stoner’s website here.
Shop Deb Stoner’s Pomegranate collection here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured Photo: Deb Stoner in front of her “Chaos” painting at the Palos Verdes Art Center building. Photo is from Deb’s personal photo collection, and is used by FF2 Media with her permission. All Rights Reserved by Deb Stoner.
Additional Images: PomCom offers fans of Deb’s photographs the ability to incorporate them into their daily lives through gorgeous floral calendars, jigsaw puzzles, and note cards. Images of Pomegranate’s 2024 Deb Stoner calendar and the “Chaos” painting jigsaw puzzle have been provided by Pomegranate, and are used by FF2 Media with their permission. All Rights Reserved by Pomegranate.