Open Spaces: Five Women Artists Find Their Niche in Creativity

As an elementary art teacher, I love that I can teach such a wide variety of art practices. From drawing to origami to collage, I love and enjoy creating using all art mediums. The five female artists I interviewed have dabbled in different crafts and art mediums throughout their lives, until finding one that really spoke to them. Each one of these artists is building up the hidden art community here in Rochester. 


As the art community is rising up here in Rochester, no one is more excited than Cecilia Boggio. Showcasing her work for the second year at Pridefest, she was more than willing to share her inspiration and love for making art.

A few years ago, after taking a stained glass workshop, Boggio found a way to freely express herself through the design of stained glass windows. There is a grace and delicacy needed to work with and handle cut glass. Boggio has it, and her choice of colors and pattern reflect that. From picking color schemes to working with different textures and materials (like agate slices), Boggio loves the process from initial design to finished product. Her favorite part of the process is the assembly, soldering the lead joints in between the cut pieces. She awaits that magical moment of stained glass art, when it is placed and light has the opportunity to illuminate the design, creating new brilliance.


Lynn J. Block is a self-taught artist who found her passion in making jewelry about five years ago. Having dabbled in many creative things, she found herself drawn to learning how to make jewelry to help a friend’s business. Inspired by antiques, spare parts, her grandmother’s jewelry, stones and even bullet casings, Block’s work creates elegance in repurposing. Her work is personal and delicate, with a fun flair of etched words like “507 girl” and “Flawed but Fabulous.” It also reflects her personality: warm and classy. 

Her favorite stone to work with is labradorite, due to its iridescence when light reflects on it. Block’s work can be seen at Dwell Local, as well as craft markets. She has offered jewelry-making classes at Dwell Local and will be offering more in the fall. 


There was a moment in Jeanne DeBruin’s life when she challenged herself to paint every day for three months. She allowed herself to experiment, make mistakes and explore materials with a child-like freedom. As a result, she found her style and technique, which she so graciously shares in workshops at Dwell Local. 

DeBruin’s paintings caught my eye one day while I was in the shop, and I participated in her workshop. She is a great teacher—honest and open about sharing her techniques, process and inspirations. Her paintings are simple and complex at the same time. Outside in the wild, birds never sit still, and trying to capture that movement in a stationary painting is no small feat. DeBruin works with a palate knife to capture the quick, animated movements of birds so beautifully. From the canvas, the birds come alive.


Inspired by the world around her, Nicole Henry has always been creative, making and selling her art. Book folding is something that she started as a side hobby, as well as to offer interesting art class opportunities at the Rochester Public Library. As a graphic designer, book folding engages her  interest in geometric shapes and patterns and provides a sense of accomplishment with the finished product. 

At first glance, book folding doesn’t even look like folded paper. The pages reveal messages or images in such an intricate design, that the pages look cut. Nicole says that it isn’t as hard to do as one might think. Her book folding commissions have taken off by word of mouth and several of them are available for sale at the shop, Dwell Local.


Carey Shanahan is a lifetime artist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in ceramics and a master’s degree in landscape architecture. Both of these studies play a large role in her art making today. 

I had the opportunity to visit Shanahan’s Earthbound Designs Pottery Studio recently and was immediately drawn into her sgraffito work on pottery. Shanahan shared that sgraffito has become her niche in pottery making. Sgraffito is an art technique where a layer of an art medium is cut away to reveal a contrasting color underneath. Shanahan’s sgraffito pottery work displays a textured array of lines and patterns, clearly influenced by her love of landscape design.  


I was thrilled to get a glimpse into the growing art scene in Rochester by writing this article. I moved here last August after growing up within the art communities of Minneapolis. It was kind of bittersweet to move away from the large art museums and art crawls, but over this past year, I have discovered Rochester has a lot to offer and, in many ways, it is more accessible to see and participate in. 

Dwell Local was one of the first shops I explored when I moved here. Dwell Local is an eclectic shop in the Design District at Cooke Park that supports local artisans. Starting back up in September, Dwell Local will offer workshops and classes taught by local artists. Try something new this fall. Who knows? You might even find your niche in creativity.

For more information on the artists and classes:


Joy Blewett is a local freelance writer, designer, and art teacher.