30 Days of Artists: Newcomer Artists Inspired by Friendships

These three artists with three diverse styles have one goal in common – to support a special woman, a dear friend, an Art Bra Austin model.  All first-time Art Bra Artists, Betsy Murphy, Maren Scheie and Sandra Navarrete used their unique artistic eye to create meaningful works of art, and we are delighted to share the stories behind their friendships, and their inspiration.

Betsy Murphy
“The Tree of Life”

After teaching art in public schools for 30 years, Betsy Murphy now works part time for The University of Texas Art Department. She is a mixed media artist who uses encaustic and acrylic painting techniques, to create art inspired by nature. Aside from her artwork, Betsy is also training to become a certified master naturalist.

This is Betsy’s first art bra, made in honor of her friend and BCRC client, Suzi Simmons. In the beginning of her artistic process, she and Suzi shared several conversations that ultimately drove the inspiration behind this piece’s design. They talked about the metaphor of the Tree of Life and its symbolism for Suzi’s experience with recovery. The tree’s strong trunk withstands many storms and like the tree, Suzi drew her strength from deep inside her core. She had found a strength she never knew she had. The gold and glitz of the materials selected is a celebration of Suzi’s recovery.

While Suzi provided the nude colored bra for Betsy to use as the design’s foundation, Betsy felt the bra wasn’t large enough to convey the expanse of a tree trunk and branches. So she decided to add a sheer layer of organza over the bra, creating a poncho like none other. She used gold sequins to create the structure of the tree trunk and branches. The organza layer is covered with gold lace and black and cream rose buds. To complete the piece, Betsy stitched pink ribbons and rhinestone buttons to adorn the tree and represent the celebration of life.

To see more of Betsy’s art, please visit her website at betsymurphyart.com.

Maren Scheie

Maren Scheie, an elementary school teacher and a member of the Army reserves, majored in art in college. Maren, who mainly creates artwork for herself, likes to work with clothing in an artistic way, specifically drawing or writing on the material. She volunteers with Art Alliance Austin and hopes to get even more involved in the artistic community.

This is Maren’s first art bra creation. She decided to participate because of her friend and colleague, Lisa Viets, who is a breast cancer survivor and modeled in the 2015 Art Bra Austin show. When Maren first learned about Art Bra Austin, she knew immediately she wanted to get involved, and decided to design this art bra in honor of her friend, Lisa.

As Maren looked at pictures of a few art bras from previous years, she noticed a lack of athletic bras, and she felt that those women who conquer breast cancer are like undefeated athletes. This inspired her to create a design around the theme. Armed with fabric markers, she planned out her graphic on a white sports bra. First, she had to make sure her letters fit – that’s a lot of letters on a relatively small space! Once she blocked her letters, she started drawing and the rest came along as she created. The bold lettering in ALL CAPS and the bright colors of the iconic “sound effect bubble”, like you’d find in a comic book fight scene, demand the viewer’s attention. Maren specifically wanted to make the image look as much like graffiti on a wall as possible, so she sketched in the subtle but effective brick wall to finish. Her artwork makes a powerful statement – women with breast cancer have an inner strength and, like an athlete, they face their opponent with determination. POW! Take that, Cancer!

Sandra Navarrete

Sandra Nevarette

Sandra Navarrete in an artist in every sense of the word. She loves to sew, dance, design, paint, draw, and describes her style as vintage inspired. Sandra studied at the Santa Reparata International School of Art, one of the top art and design schools in Florence, Italy. She currently heads the Austin School of Fashion Design, many of whose students have also submitted art bra designs for this year’s show.

“Gitana” is Sandra’s first art bra, and wow, does it stun! She created it for BCRC client and Art Bra Model, Claire Spera, who was also her former Flamenco instructor. When talking about the art bra’s design, Sandra begins by telling us she has a special place in her heart for Spain and Flamenco dance. Flamenco, a performance art which includes a variety of skills including dancing (baile), singing (cante) and guitar playing (toque), is native to Andalusia, Spain. She explains how the word “gitana” is Spanish for gypsy, or the Romani people in that region, who influenced the Flamenco.

After reading about Claire’s plight with breast cancer, Sandra believed making a Flamenco-inspired art bra would be a great way to highlight Claire’s talents, as well as contribute to BCRC. So, she designed a “traje de gitana” or Gitana outfit. Sandra handmade a red bra, with black decorative stitching along the seams and down the middle of the bra straps. Knowing beforehand that she wanted to incorporate a lot of fringe in her design, Sandra attached long black fringe across the top of the bra and scattered black faceted beads to the top of the trim and along the decorative stitches around the bra. As a result of this thoughtful design, Sandra’s art bra truly comes to life when it is in motion – just like a Flamenco dancer. She even hand-made a matching Flamenco skirt, known as a ‘bata de cola’, to complete the look. To be modeled by Claire, this expertly-designed art bra was also created in honor of Lily Navarrete.


All art bras will be auctioned off at BCRC’s signature charity event to raise funds to support local women affected by breast cancer. To learn more about Art Bra Austin, visit www.artbraaustin.org

Art Bra photography generously provided by Flashbax23.

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