Artist of the Month: Elizabeth Decker

Artist of the Month: Elizabeth Decker

A thin blond woman wearing jeans and a western style button up jean shirt stands in an art studio next to a rack of art suppliesOur May artist of the month is Elizabeth Decker. Elizabeth is just one of those people you meet and don’t forget. She is smart, fun, creative and memorable. I met Elizabeth several years ago at a retreat where she was providing a version of her writing and art program called Create Your Story! Visual art is my thing, but writing scares me. I had nothing to fear though. Elizabeth is an inviting, non-judgmental person who really knows how to make anyone feel comfortable when they are not. Her ability to do that is a genuine gift. So, when she got involved with Art Spark Texas a few years later as a writing instructor for our Speaking Advocates program, I was thrilled to see her again. She is a perfect fit for Art Spark Texas and our atmosphere of inclusion.

When I asked Elizabeth about being an artist she said,

“I have always been artistic, temperamental, imaginative, stubborn with a desire to be free… I’m an abstract artist mainly because I’m not very good at doing things realistically and I have very little patience so the idea of allowing myself the freedom to express without a clue to the outcome works for me. I interpret my relationship to self and how I’m influenced by the external word through paint, usually on large canvas but also paper.”

After teaching our Speaking Advocates class, I saw Elizabeth again a little while later at a Moral Injury conference being hosted by Reverend David Peters of The Episcopalian Fellowship for Veterans. She met Reverend Peters at Whole Foods of all places and they got to talking about her Create Your Story! Workshop. He thought it would be a great fit for Veterans. Since we had been doing Veteran programs, I agreed that was a great idea, so we hired Elizabeth to do her classes at the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic.

Here is what Elizabeth says she likes best about working with Veterans,

“I love their willingness to explore and dive into their personal story through writing and art but what’s an even bigger surprise than what it is they create, is their fearlessness in sharing their story. It becomes a big love fest for a few hours every week and I’ve made a lot of friends with the Vets so we talk on the phone or meet for coffee in-between workshops… I love it. They seem to like me so I’ll keep it going!… I’ve been working with Veterans consistently for the last five years and it’s been a gift. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things to do.”

A veteran artist starts a pencil sketch with pages of writing and art supplies on the table in front of hi

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, Elizabeth could not teach her class at the VA and has been working on her own art at home. I asked her a little about that.

“I’m used to being alone, working alone, however, I was not prepared for COVID-19. I miss interacting with people but until we are safely allowed to do that, I made some friends! It began first not because I set out to make friends but because I’m lazy and was not motivated to cut and iron about 50 bags for a mural I was thinking about…The two bags I did cut, were shaped like people and very quickly, the thing took on a life of its own and I created the series: With my friends….I engage the “friends” in board games, yoga, reading, spa time, music…anything that comes to me and once I began to put it on social media, I realized they put a smile on people’s faces. So, I continued with the story. I believe I’ve done about seventeen of them. The first one, Tea With My Friends, was created on March 26 after I made it through the polarizing fear of the current situation. I’ve relaxed since and was finally able to begin that mural!”

Two flattened paper bags are propped up in chairs. They are accessorized with shoes, hats, and jewelry and have guitars in their laps
Title: House Concert With My Friends-by Elizabeth Decker

Elizabeth Decker’s next Create Your Story! Workshop with Art Spark Texas will be at our Putting Action Into Words: One-Day Writing Conference on June 20, 2020. Join us in Maud, Texas or Virtually. Details here. 

You can learn more about Elizabeth on Instagram @elidecker or her website.

Flattened brown paper bags of various shapes and sizes on a wall. Covered in colorful text and images relating to the coronavirus
Title: She began to relax because the world left her no choice – by Elizabeth Decker. 8 x 6 ft. Mixed Media. May 5, 2020

April Sullivan
ArtWorks Director, Art Spark Texas
[email protected]

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4 thoughts on “Artist of the Month: Elizabeth Decker”

  1. This is a beautiful
    Article Elizabeth. I am so proud of you and to read this on Mother’s Day made my day. There is no question you have a special gift.

  2. To think that we knew you when you were 5 years old. D.W.
    Your mother is so right. I love to see your painting when we are at Betsy’s house. J W

  3. Ronald Townsend

    Elizabeth, thank you for accepting Veterans ‘in-the-moment,’ and working with them in those moments… Sometimes it takes a while to appreciate someone with artistic brilliance and compassion like you. “Create Your Story” classes help Veterans to heal from former military physical wounds, as well as internalized ones, especially in the moment…

    Further, you offer Veterans the proper tools to work with in those moments: writing paper, pencils, pens; art brushes; a myriad of interesting paints and art pencils; and your signature (expensive) drawing paper, a place where Veterans can rest their wounds safely. Thank you for your consideration Elizabeth. And, congratulations for winning “Artist of the Month” in May 2020. Ronald Townsend, U.S. Army, Vietnam

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