Multi-disciplinary artist, Lynn Armede DeBeal had always embraced life. Her career started as a specialized glass welder in the semiconductor industry, continued on as an adolescent substance abuse counselor, and ended in finance. Overcoming abuse as a child, Lynn A lived a full, productive life on into adulthood. At the age of 5, Lynn A started to play the violin. Her mom had promised her that she would get her a violin if she mastered the piano. Picking up a guitar at 16, music was a big part of Lynn A’s personal identity. It fed her soul. Having experienced physical abuse at the hands of family members when she was a child and having seen domestic violence as a teen, Lynn A’s music and art provided the opportunity to heal and survive.
Her career took her to many places, including speaking against violence against women at University of California, Berkeley. However, all of that was stopped short when Lynn A, exposed to asbestos and quartz dust years earlier as a glass welder, was diagnosed with two debilitating lung diseases. While she survived the open lung surgery, she was left with having to be on a supplemental oxygen tank, which she would have to use every hour of every day for the rest of her life. After surgery, Lynn A’s landlord evicted her because he thought it was too dangerous to have an oxygen tank in the house.
During this incredibly unstable period during which she lived with lung disease and the loss of lung capacity, the loss of her job, the loss of a place to live, and having gone through her savings, Lynn A relocated from Seattle to California to assist her mom. Lynn A’s recovery from surgery was difficult and chances of her survival became unclear. Her family, believing that she was going to die, took everything - clearing out her storage, taking her antiques, and even her work clothing. This betrayal led to a mental breakdown followed by severe depression. As Lynn A describes it, “I cried for three years.”
In a wheelchair, permanently on oxygen, and diagnosed with severe depression, Lynn A spent several years rarely leaving her apartment. Until her PTSD counselor at Harborview and the Arts Counselor at Providence Elder Care suggested Path with Art.
Lynn A’s first class at Path with Art, titled Red Lineage and taught by Natasha Marin, was an experience that woke her up from her pain. “I began to meet people and be part of something joyful.”
This last winter, Lynn A performed with other Path with Art students as well as members of the Seattle Symphony on the stage at Benaroya Hall. “It was profound - a complete catharsis. For years, after losing my 30-year music career, I wasn’t even able to listen to the radio - it just reminded me of my loss. But Path with Art gave me back my music. Path with art gave me back confidence. As a 6-foot tall African/Native American woman, I was used to being a presence. Then I became invisible, reduced to a broken-down woman in a wheel chair on oxygen. Path with Art has not just given me back my creativity and hope for the future, but myself. That’s why I put a Path with Art donate button on my Facebook page. You have given me back my life.”
Lynn A’s most recent work, a book sculpture titled Christopher Columbus Undressed, was inspired by her personal experiences and her family history. The work is currently on view at the Path with Art gallery as part of the Summer Visions exhibition.