ArtLifting Stories: Artist Alicia Sterling Beach

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Alicia Sterling Beach!

Alicia Sterling Beach, Artist

Our partnership with Alicia, through our collaboration with ArtLifting, left us nothing short of inspired. Utilizing themes of abstraction and symmetry, Alicia intends to create harmony and balance in her work as well as bring forth the delicacy of light.

Recently, we got to sit and chat with Alicia. Our conversation was delightful, and filled with vulnerability and beautiful insights. 

Q: Can you start with a short intro and share a little about yourself?

A: "Most of my childhood was spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but I also grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, Brazil and Venezuela, and attended schools on the east coast. My parents were divorced when I was little, and both died in their fifties, so my nuclear family was not quite so nuclear unless you count their explosive drama. Yet common values endured: my mother took me and my brother camping all over the southwest, sleeping often under the stars, with our dog Sombra, and my father, always the sailor, took us out on his sailboat every weekend. So both instilled in me, and my brother, a respect and appreciation for nature and Mother Earth — her seas and her splendid sunsets."

Q: How did you get started with art?

A: "I was in an accident the day before my third birthday. Someone fell on me and broke my right femur in two, right at the head of the largest bone in one's body, near my pelvis. I was placed in traction, and when it was not healing correctly, they re-broke my leg with a hammer, without sedation. I was placed in a body-cast and had to learn how to walk again. Because I fell behind the physical confidence of my peers, art became a way for me to cope. A friend of my mother's had constructed a little, wooden easel to attach to the traction box I laid in. I also clearly remember when my tonsils were removed when I was only two. I thought I'd receive ice cream (the cone I saw promised in the pop-up book someone gave me to prepare), but I couldn't talk and ask for it. My throat hurt so much! But my father had me draw very large pumpkins over and over again, which may have initiated me into becoming a neurotic, compulsively self-correcting artist to transcend the pain. I say that in retrospect with humor, but OCD really became a hard-wired, coping mechanism."

Q: How would you describe your artistic style?

A: "I don't think about styles. I think about making beautiful work. I think about light, color and the beauty we perceive in the natural world, away from tech screens, with our bare eyes. We are blessed to have so many senses, and I believe that when we are truly grateful for them, and our awarenesses, we don't take them or the natural world for granted."

Q: How do you want people to feel when they see your art?

A: "Inspired. Hopeful. Joyful. Serene. Contemplative."

Q: What’s your favorite part about the creating process?

A: "It slows me down and grounds me. Part of my early, developmental dysfunction, if you want to call it that, is that I lived in my self-preoccupied mind more, my physical body less. It has been a long journey to really become attuned to my body and my surroundings. I was labeled gifted as a child, but only after they thought I was 'slow' [...] and performed a whole slew of tests on me. Then it was discovered that I tested extremely high... in the top five of my age in the nation. My brain tended to want to complicate things, life, problems, ideas. Art has helped me slow down and be less neurotic. That is the therapeutic nature of right-brained work. I think there is a grand misconception in education, that art should not be a priority for all children, that it is only for a small, 'damaged' or eccentric minority, and so it has been consistently reduced to 'craft'. It is my humble opinion that arts education should be a top priority, now more than ever. It is a peaceful way to make sense of a world with too much information and stimulus. Making art improves attention spans, concentration and focus rooted in reality."

Q: How did you get connected with ArtLifting? How has your involvement with ArtLifting impacted your life?

A: "A few years ago, when I had nowhere to live, I became friends with an older, 80-something, playwright, a lover of art and literature. He became my roommate, and I took care of his difficult, but gentle and loving, dog Sally, whom I later inherited. This friend used to read the New York Times daily. When he read an article about ArtLifting, he pointed to it and told me I should apply. And so I did. Throughout the time I lived with him, he kept encouraging me to make art again. Having lost my studio of sixteen years some years prior to that, and after all I had gone through — losing a lover who had become homeless and very ill, who later died, navigating years of not having a stable living situation myself, feeling so at a loss about everything — his consistent, kindly fatherliness, and then the acceptance by ArtLifting, their understanding, compassion and successful art sales, all helped to revitalize my spirit to make art again. Later, I was finally able to attain an apartment of my own."

Q: Can you share the inspiration/story behind your artwork?

A: "I've felt unattractive my entire life. The asymmetry of my body, exacerbated by breaking my longer leg in mid-life, then my inability to walk (roughly 14 years ago) left me feeling hopeless and undesirable. That adulthood period of intense, physical pain triggered the inept feelings from the childhood accident. I suffered many years of deep, debilitating depression in my twenties too, which, thankfully, proved catalyst enough for me to stop drinking before the physical issues mounted. As I turned to healing my body through slowly building up my musculature, so I could walk again, (as free from pain as possible) I began to see, in retrospect, how making art has always helped me see my inner beauty, fueling me with hope to keep going. Not only did my inner, broken self always push to be heard, valued and accepted by making art, but my soul cried out to be seen for her loveliness, femininity and healing nature. The term 'wounded warrior' abounds, but some of us are 'wounded healers’. Healers intuitively want to give healing lessons learned, freely, without reservation or condescension."

Q: DEMDACO is a company that strives to “Lift the Spirit”. How do you hope your artwork and involvement with DEMDACO lifts the spirit?

A: "It's funny, because I've worked in many gift stores over the years, often through the holidays. I've wrapped countless gifts for customers, because I'm a really good wrapper, and sometimes the clientele has confided in me, as I've wrapped, sharing stories about losing a loved one, a pet or their plans for marking a celebratory event. As I don't have a family of my own (even though I always wanted one), I've listened, held hands, shared tears, smiled and rejoiced in their blessings. I've rarely dived into my tales of woe because then they'd probably never have come back, but I've given my all to finding that special gift to mark that special moment in a person's life. All to say, gifts are important. There's a lot of trash in the world these days, things we don't really need, but gifts, little remembrances, little ways to honor each other, saying "I remember you," "I love you," "You're on my mind"... these things are important. Many live very lonely lives. A little appreciation can go a long way toward lifting someone out of despair. Ask any person out on the streets and they'll tell you that it's very hard, soul-crushing to not be spoken to by so many passersby. I appreciate DEMDACO's creation of pieces that will keep up the human tradition of acknowledgment. And it's an honor to be included so impact-fully in that tradition."

A BIG thank you to Alicia for sitting down and sharing her story of strength with us. 

Shop her contribution to our ArtLifting x DEMDACO collection now!