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Faculty Spotlight: Yvonne Sangster

Released by Panhandle State Campus Communications on 10/09/2018 Yvonne Sangster — Photo by Chris Urias Yvonne Sangster — Photo by Chris Urias

Goodwell, Okla.— Currently in her 15th year of teaching at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Instructor of Art Yvonne Sangster found her passion at a young age and it is a talent she pours into sharing with others.

Sangster talks of how she started, “The root of my desire to create in artistic form began in my cradle from one of the most gifted portrait artists I have ever known, my mother Doris Bell Wright. She put a pencil in my hand the moment I was old enough to hold one and encouraged me to draw. She realized I had inherited her gift when I was only two years old and we were visiting my brother and sister’s grade school where she volunteered annually for drawing demonstrations. While I was there I picked up a piece of chalk, drew a long series of circles on the black board then drew two long lines through them. I proudly turned around and announced to the class ‘choo-choo train’.”

Not only did Sangster’s mother have a significant impact on her starting as an artist at such a young age, her mother plays a critical part in how Sangster chooses to manage her classroom and relate to her students today.

“Growing up, I was amazed at the technical work she meticulously rendered in mechanical engineering and design for the Bureau of Mines Helium Activity, but it was her ability as an illustrator and a portrait artist that planted the desire to be an artist in my heart.”

She continues, “My mom had to go back to work when I was three years old. When she came home in the evenings, I would sit on her lap and she taught me how to draw. That time was very special to me and made an impact on my life. That time with my mother is my inspiration for the one-on-one teaching I model in my classroom. I feel I haven’t done my job each day of each student hasn’t had individual time with me. It makes for a long day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Recently, Sangster got to be a part of Historic 50th Anniversary of the Helium Time Capsule, the celebration of an event that she attended as a junior high school student in 1968 to commemorate a special event for her mother.

Serving in Helium Activity, Sangster’s mother, Doris Schnell, worked as an illustrator in the Branch of Engineering Drafting, Division of Engineering in Amarillo, Texas. She joined the Helium Activity in 1957 as an Engineering Draftsman and received several promotions that led her to the title of Illustrator. Schnell designed the Commemorative Medal offered by the Amarillo Helium Centennial Committee for sale in 1968. The medallion was cast in fine silver and was not only offered for sale but also placed in the Helium Time Capsule.

About 4,000 items were placed in the Helium Time Columns in 1968 and sealed in an inert helium atmosphere to preserve them for future study. With items donated from 165 separate sources, contributors ranged from civic, social, and professional organizations to industry-wide groups and governmental agencies. Many individual contributions were made as well. Items ranged from common office supplies to movie projectors and include such things as family genealogy, history of a Texas Panhandle County, United States coins, and even a dehydrated apple pie! Columns of the four-column capsule were to be opened individually 25, 50, 100, and 1000 years from 1968 with the intention of the contents providing a base for measuring future progress.

At the recent 50th Anniversary, Sangster had the opportunity to make a display commemorating her mother’s work with the Commemorative Medal she designed in 1968. The event was held at the Don Harrington Discovery Center in Amarillo.

It was a special evening for Sangster as she reflected on her mother’s impact. “My mother’s success as a woman in a man’s world in the 1960’s has been an inspiration for me.”

Byron Test, fellow Panhandle State Art Instructor, commented on Sangster’s impact on the Art department.

“When Yvonne first came to us, she was a student wanting to finish her degree. As she worked through her courses, I noticed that she was always helping the other students. Upon her graduation, we offered her a position. She has been part of our faculty since then and she is an amazing instructor as well as an incredible artist.”