As a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, Sharon Hollensbe drew with a pencil for many years, often copying what she saw in magazines or newspapers. She was especially fascinated by trying to draw the foreshortened woman’s foot in a high heel. Decades later in art class, she was able easily to repeat this as though her hand had not forgotten. As a young adult, seeking adventure, she worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines for three years, moving across the country and winding up in the Washington, D.C. area.
After leaving the airline, Sharon got a job as a reporter for a weekly travel trade publication working out of an office in the National Press Building in downtown D.C. making use of her travel experience and her undergraduate journalism education. It was at this point that she began a habit which lasted for many years of occasionally painting on canvases something to put on her walls. Along the way she moved to Atlanta and graduated in 1975 with a Ph.D. in psychology from Georgia State University. For 20 years she worked in the Atlanta area as a clinical psychologist.
Reaching middle age, and recently divorced, Sharon decided in 1994 to uproot and take a job supervising mental health and substance abuse services in Galena, an Alaska Native village on the Yukon River. She lived in Galena for two years and then moved into Fairbanks. Her investment in art really began when she enrolled in undergraduate art classes at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, culminating with an M.F.A. in painting in 2018.