Stark County Artist Profile: Emily Vigil

Each week in January and February we will be featuring a different Stark County artist. Get to know the amazing talent in our community.

By Laurie Fife Harbert

Emily Vigil describes herself as a traveler. She spent her childhood in Brazil, Puerto Rico, and West Virginia, the latter of which being where she completed her undergraduate degree. She then earned her M.F.A. in Louisiana and continued her fine art studies with the Master Copy Program at the Louvre in Paris, France and a landscape painting marathon at the New York Studio School in New York City. Currently, Emily has lived in Stark County for over seven years, the longest she’s remained in any one place. She and her husband, two daughters, and a menagerie of animals reside on a little farmstead in East Sparta. To find inspiration for her artwork and to continue to satisfy her wanderlust, Emily travels often to visit her husband’s family in Colorado and her extended family in the United Kingdom.

As would be expected of a self-proclaimed journeyer, places regularly provide the artistic subject matter for Emily’s art. ‘My traveler’s background continues to inspire me to find meaningful connections to place in my artwork,’ she states. This focus of her work may be seen on her website,, which she has aptly titled ‘Intimate Ecology Paintings About Place.’

While to some the idea of ‘place’ may conjure up big cities and densely inhabited human areas, Vigil’s work takes on a more natural, environmental, and even esoteric approach to ‘place.’ Nature and organic forms proliferate her work more so than architecture. Her inspiration for visually defining a place can come from stories, maps, photographs, and real or even imagined components of what is or what could be there. The result when Emily sets out to represent a place in her artwork—which she would render in possibly paint, charcoal, digital photography, collage, or any combination of mixed media—will be a very personal and unique image. She attempts to capture not necessarily the actual place, but a sense of the place, often incorporating its past or its future possibilities into the depiction. She has been known to wander paths alone at dusk to view, photograph, or paint on site. Her large acrylic painting, ‘Hertiage,’ resulted from one such adventure at Castle Hill earthworks near Dorset in the United Kingdom.

In the past Vigil has been a gallery director, adjunct professor, and elementary art teacher. She has shown her work for over 15 years, often winning awards. She has received many grants for community-based exhibits and installations which she has spear-headed, including ‘Constellations of Women’ in the Canton Arts District in 2009 and a recent program bringing art to area parks through ArtsinStark and Stark Parks.

While she may have stayed in Stark County the longest thus far, it is obvious that she isn’t going to let the grass grow under her feet while she is here. Currently, in addition to raising her family and creating her artwork, Emily works for the Massillon Museum as their events and Studio M coordinator. She also organizes and curates independent art exhibits. An upcoming show she is arranging, ‘Conversations with our Collection,’ will be an off-site exhibit featuring artwork by the Massillon Museum staff, based on interpretations of pieces from the museum’s collection. It will coincide with the MassMu’s ‘Readapt’ exhibit. Other future endeavors for Emily include a body of work featuring community gardens and a group show highlighting landscapes with painter Heather Bullach of Canton and photographer Mark Pitocco of Louisville. Emily may be contacted through her website or via email at

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Laurie Fife Harbert is a writer, a Canton native, an ailurophile, a visual artist, a bibliophile, a mother of two, and an oenophile—not necessarily in that order. 144w" sizes="(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px" /> Laurie Fife Harbert is a writer, a Canton native, an ailurophile, a visual artist, a bibliophile, a mother of two, and an oenophile—not necessarily in that order.