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Teacher Steph Sammons’s mythical creature painting series is on display at Post Falls and Liberty Lake libraries

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Mythical creatures are coming to life at the Liberty Lake Library, showcased in bright, colorful artwork by local teacher turned artist Steph Sammons.

The prints, on display in the library during the month of September, each has a card describing the mythical creature depicted. Sammons is working on one for each letter of the alphabet, and she is nearly done with the project.

Sammons said the creatures she picks sometimes have to do with current events. She created “E is for Ent,” the Shepherd of the Trees, during the forest fires last year. The proceeds of each print she sells of the “Ent” is donated to the Spokane Valley Firefighters Benevolent Fund, which is used to help community members in need.

She’s working on “W is for Wendigo.” The Wendigo is the bringer of winter and famine, the symbol of “social cannibalism” such as greed, disregard for others and destruction of the environment, said Sammons.

“Sometimes it’s the powers the creatures have and what’s going on in the world that makes me pick them,” she said.

Some of her favorites to create were the “Leuke” (wood nymph), the “Nine-Tailed Fox” and “Kelpie,” a water horse. The series begins with “A is for Amorak,” an Inuit wolf, but Sammons said she didn’t go in alphabetical order when she was creating each art piece.

Sammons never planned to be an artist. She was a college student double majoring in English and psychology when she was involved in a serious car crash. It left her unable to read and write for a while, so when she went back to college, she took a lot of art and theater classes at first, Sammons said.

“I don’t think I ever saw myself as a ‘real’ artist,” she said.

But the experience gave her the idea of doing an alphabet series of artworks focused on mythical creatures. Sammons has worked in special education for the past seven years. Feeling burned out, she decided to take a year off. That time off has been the perfect time to work on her long-imagined project.

“Maybe I’ll do a children’s book, a coffee table book, with them someday,” she said.

She did a similar display of her work at Post Falls Library and decided to ask if Liberty Lake Library was interested as well. Sammons said the library director was very enthusiastic about displaying her art. “I just thought it was a good pairing,” she said of displaying her work in libraries.

Sammons said she’s been told that her art has been well received by library patrons. She’s even sold two prints, which are available for $50 each.

She’s still mulling what comes next, both with her art and whether she’ll go back to special education work. Sammons said she tends to fully immerse herself in whatever she’s doing, which can be draining.

“I kind of throw myself into things pretty hard core,” she said. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do next.”

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Correspondent Nina Culver can be reached at nculver47@gmail.com.

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