An Interview with Local Glass Artist, Stephanie Trenchard

by Sarah Zamecnik, Executive Director of The Hardy Gallery

Since 2012 the Hardy Gallery has commissioned an amazing selection of local artists to produce an original work of art that is raffled as our Raffle Artwork Fundraiser event. This year we are excited to be collaborating with one of the most important glass artists working in the medium today, Stephanie Trenchard, owner and operator of Popelka Trenchard Glass Studio in Sturgeon Bay.

For The Hardy Gallery, Trenchard created a one-of-kind work of art that focuses on the robust history of Door County, specifically looking at the settlement of Ephraim and its connections to the Anderson family, who helped pioneer Ephraim into the beautiful, timeless, sanctuary it is today.

Trenchard’s piece, “Luna Walking” is an assembled sand cast glass sculpture that is divided into three inclusions, each symbolizing aspects of Ephraim’s heritage – featuring the iconic Anderson Warehouse with its signature graffiti clapboard wooden boards, a pioneer woman from the 1800s who is a relic from past families who settled Door County, and the moon, protectively sheltering as she looks forward to the new day.

Recently, I had a chance to follow-up with Trenchard to ask her a few questions about her work, her process and how she came to Door County to be a professional artist.

Sarah Zamecnik (SZ):  What are your aspirations for making work?

Stephanie Trenchard (ST):  I aspire to have my work collected in museums so that the pieces may speak to future generations long after I’m gone. Because my work is often about female artists and experiences I hope to help people understand about the contribution women have been making in the arts and, with enough education, the idea the canon may shift to include more women in art history.

 SZ:  Tell me how you came to live and work in Door County?

ST:  I came with my husband, Jeremy Popelka, and our children, Madeline and Jackson, in 1997 to build a glass studio. Door County is ideal for self-employed artists who are raising children. We had been living in the San Francisco Bay Area when my father, Peter Trenchard, encouraged and helped us to move here in 1997. Wisconsin has a long history of artisans working in fine crafts and we quickly found a great community of artists.

SZ:  The quote you used to describe the piece “Luna Walking,” where did that come from? The quote is “When I look at pictures of Ephraim from 150 years ago I can relate to what it felt like to walk under the moonlight on the water. It still feels the same. The messages that we get from nature are timeless.”

ST:  My intention with that statement was to highlight that the awe-inspiring aspects of nature, such as the bay under moonlight or the view of Eagle Bluff, are what connect us as humans living in this landscape. We cannot relate to many aspects of the experience of previous generations but we can ascertain that they probably felt the same emotional draw of the setting. That perhaps natural beauty links us. The messages that we get from nature are timeless.

SZ:  What do you hope people gain from looking at your work?

ST:  Because my work is narrative I always aspire to communicate the story of a piece to the viewer. Even when the stories are specific they usually also offer a metaphor for an aspect of the human condition. It is through story that we can all have compassion and through stories that we can begin to understand our own experience. That said, I am still working in a visual medium that exists on an intuitive level for the viewer when no story is understood. I straddle the genres of illustrations and folk art. 

SZ:  You studied painting but now you work in sculpture and painting, does one influence the other or do you approach painting differently than you do sculpture? 

ST:  In my painting I often address formal issues, such as luminosity and depth that reference my understanding of glass color. I am creating a narrative in 3D glass while creating a depth in 2D work. Working in glass has many technical limitations and challenges. I have learned to adapt my concepts around what the glass wants to do. I try to do that with painting in the sense that I allow for an intuitive aspect to reveal itself when I’m painting. It’s certainly an interesting dichotomy. The two are edging their way closer to one another without my conscious actions.

Luna Walking, by Stephanie Trenchard.

The piece, “Luna Walking” is valued at $7,500 and is the 2018 Raffle Artwork Fundraiser for The Hardy Gallery. Raffle tickets are 1 for $5 or 5 for $20 and available for purchase at the gallery now through Oct. 14. The drawing will be held Oct. 15 at 1 pm at the gallery. This is a chance to win an original work of art from one of Door County’s most renowned artists with the simple purchase of a raffle ticket. All proceeds go toward sustaining The Hardy Gallery’s programming including its signature winter art education program, Exposure to Creativity (ETC) which provides free one-day workshops in the visual and performing arts to local Door County youth and its subsequent art mentoring program. For more information about the Raffle Fundraiser visit or call 920.854.2210.

Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance, Inc., which contributes Culture Club throughout the summer season, is a coalition of nonprofit organizations whose purpose is to enhance, promote and advocate the arts, humanities and natural sciences in Door County.


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