Kathryn Stephens’ art has heart, as she works to uplift spirits
Artist Kathryn Stephens’ passion for her craft has made her a driving force as director of development for “A Reason To Survive” (ARTS), a non-profit organization that provides therapeutic arts programming to youth facing major life challenges. Stephens also served as the campaign manager for the New Children’s Museum. She has crafted vibrant mosaic murals for Bird Rock Elementary School, where she taught for several years.
One of her most magnificent works of art was the 61st Las Patronas Jewel Ball, “Artrageous,” which she chaired in 2007, netting a record $1.1 million dollars for 61 beneficiaries that year. Stephens has also chaired events for the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla High School and National Charity League.
Prior to coming to San Diego, she had a 12-year career in Los Angeles and New York as one a top model, gracing the pages and covers of international magazines. In 2013, she was honored by the Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary as a Woman of Dedication. She is married to John, and has two children, Alexandra and Adam.
What brought you to La Jolla?
My husband and I decided to move to La Jolla primarily because of the excellent schools and community feel, but we took a few turns before arriving. After being based in NYC for many years due to my modeling career, we made the decision to head west to San Diego to begin a new chapter. This was after carefully considering where in the country we would like to live (we had already spent time in L.A. and did not want to return) and San Diego was appealing. We moved to Alpine to live a life in the country, build our dream home and start a family.
This was a culture shock on multiple levels! While it was a different but wonderful experience, the school situation quickly became a growing concern. After looking up and down the San Diego coast, La Jolla was the obvious choice, not only because of the school options, but also the community feel of a village. We moved to La Jolla 14 years ago and it was the best decision we made! I feel so fortunate to have found some of my very best friends through my involvement with the schools and Las Patronas.
What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
I wish we had a beautiful little movie theater that would show interesting independent films. I always support our local businesses when I can so I would like to see more of those and less chain-type stores in the Village. The art murals are a wonderful addition, too! One of these days in the near future, I would like to create a large-scale community art project.
Who or what inspires you?
My husband and children, of course! They continue to inspire me to challenge myself and are always reminding me to paint! I feel so fortunate to have their love and encouragement. It’s because of their support I have been able to devote so much time to community causes which are so important to me.
I am also inspired by the teen youth I work with at A Reason To Survive. These are kids who are facing tough challenges and yet despite these obstacles, remain hopeful about their futures and feel responsible for reaching back to lift others up. They are role models without even knowing it.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom would you invite?
I enjoy lively conversations that challenge important issues. I would naturally start with my family as our two kids offer a great perspective on our ever-changing world.
Additionally I would invite: Bill Clinton, Arianna Huffington, Stephen Colbert (to lighten things up), the journalist Bill Moyers and Julia Child so she can do the cooking and I can relax!
What are your five favorite movies?
My favorites include “Jean de Florette & Manon of the Spring” (a long story done exceptionally well over two films), “2001 A Space Odyssey” (way ahead of its time and the ultimate science fiction), “Zoolander” (because the fashion industry is just funny) and “English Vinglish” (I just saw this charming film at the La Jolla Cinema Society).
What do you most dislike?
What is your most-prized possession?
They aren’t my possessions but I would have to say my two children. I am so proud of them and they bring me such happiness. I am inspired by their compassion for others and their independent thinking.
What is your most-marked characteristic?
I would have to say my creative spark, which I attribute to the reason for my mane of red hair. Took me a good 20 years to accept the color scheme nature gave me. I’ve also been known to challenge a few traditions. I do enjoy rocking the boat from time to time, but it usually has amazing results!
What is your motto of philosophy of life?
Think big, give back and inspire others in creative ways.
What would be your dream vacation?
I have always been fascinated with Indian culture (still my favorite food), so a trip there would be wonderful. I also would like to take a family trip to China, Japan and South Korea to visit my brother, his wife and our twin baby nieces.
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