Elizabeth Deegan (she/her/hers)
San Francisco, CA
“Creating with stained glass has given me a new purpose in life - I used to believe surviving cancer was my story in this lifetime, but I now understand I'm here to create art and cancer was only a small part of my story.”
Elizabeth Deegan’s glass art is a testament to her journey, with each piece representing fragility, hope, and beauty within life’s struggles. Born in Duluth, MN, Elizabeth has fond memories of melting plastic beads for handmade "stained glass frames'' and clay for various flower vases. Her and her mother bonded over crafting and creating, and as she grew up, she learned various processes such as jewelry making, pottery, photography, painting and stained glass.
Elizabeth pursued a career as an Executive Assistant and focused on building her career in a variety of industries in the Bay Area. During her time working at LinkedIn, she even worked with ArtLifting on the client side - helping to get ArtLifting artists’ work into a LinkedIn office in Sunnyvale. She enjoyed being a part of this process and bringing diverse stories and art into the space.
Creativity and artmaking became more prominent as Elizabeth experienced a significant health challenge: cancer. In 2011, she was diagnosed with stage 2 kidney cancer and successfully beat it! Unfortunately, in 2019, she was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma and embarked on another heavy fight with chemotherapy and radiation. Thankfully, Elizabeth beat that as well and is now in remission.
After many years of putting her art aside while she battled cancer, she dove back into artmaking and found her true calling in stained glass. She shares, “Beating cancer twice in 8 years has instilled in me a deep sense of resilience and transformation. The journey of overcoming such a significant health challenge led me to personal growth in my art.” With renewed energy, she dove into her artistic pursuits.
The process of creating stained glass has been a transformative journey and has helped her understand herself on a deeper level. She explains, “The repetitive process of designing, cutting and assembling the glass, grounds me and offers a sense of purpose and control in my unpredictable world.” Furthermore, she explains that “Working with glass takes effort, time and patience and I've begun to understand my capacity for perseverance and my determination to keep pushing forward.”
Creating stained glass art has allowed Elizabeth to share her unique story and her creations become a tapestry of resilience and hope. Art allows her to express her emotions, thoughts and experiences in a visually captivating way. She shares, “[Art] has taught me resilience and to continue pushing forward even if there is a setback (glass breaks and it breaks often!). Creating has reduced my anxiety and gives me a mental break from my stress and worries.”
Elizabeth’s style has always focused on bold and vibrant colors as a way to express nature and her emotions, but it's changed throughout the years. She now sees nature as a symbol of revival and rejuvenation, one that is key to healing. She often incorporates the world around her into her palette, whether it is a field of sunflowers, cobblestone streets lined with hanging flower baskets, or the dark and dusty look of a cathedral lit by an afternoon sunbeam. One of her favorite inspirations is her time growing up in northern Minnesota, with the drastic and beautiful seasonal changes of the land.
Process wise, she starts with large sheets of graph paper to draw out the design. She then lays out sheets of glass until she finds color combinations that feel right for the composition. She often spends an entire day drawing the pattern and completing the initial glass cutting, grinding and foiling. She then comes back the next day with fresh eyes to make sure the piece feels right and then spends another day soldering and polishing the glass. Of course, during this process, there may be setbacks such as broken glass, but Elizabeth has learned to appreciate these moments and take them in stride. One of her favorite elements of glass is that it has the power to change an entire room when light shines through.
Elizabeth is excited to join the community of artists in ArtLifting to connect with artists, the team and clients alike. She dreams of one day channeling all of her energy into art and having a studio large enough to work on stained glass and other mediums she has learned throughout her life. She also hopes to teach classes for children and adults with cancer.
“I want to inspire others facing similar challenges in life, that each day can be as fragile or as strong as glass, the difference is how we look through it and keep our faith in the human spirit.”
Elizabeth hopes her art will reach people all over the world and inspire, uplift
and comfort them as well as her - giving her the assurance that she’s living her purpose. She is motivated to collaborate with other survivors and dream about community-based art projects centered around themes of healing.When she’s not in her studio, she enjoys researching and learning about new techniques and color combinations. If she’s not working on glass, she’s often in her garden or playing the piano.
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