Meet the artists!

Deborah Ameele

Deborah Ameele

Deborah was inspired to create an Art Bra® after seeing her sister, Suzanne Tierney Diefendorf, model in Art Bra® Austin 2019. “I was so inspired and moved that I decided to try my hand at creating a bra of my own,” she says. Deborah moved to Austin shortly after her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and saw her braving the storm, calling her a “sister extraordinaire” who “is an inspiration all on her own. I thought of rainstorms and what comes from that—beautiful flowers.” Deborah is the oldest of five girls, two of whom have battled breast cancer. Deborah is a quilter who also loves to crochet. She specializes in t-shirt quilts and says making time for quilting is always rewarding.

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Norma Jean Chapa

Norma Jean became involved first as a donor and after seeing first-hand what BCRC does and the women involved, she knew she wanted to do more.  With her love of creativity and design, it was natural that she would make an Art Bra®.  Norma Jean’s first creation was back when Art Bra® was called Graphic.  After that experience she knew she wanted to get more involved and proudly joined the Board in 2019.  Norma Jean is excited about the future of BCRC and love supporting this incredible organization.

In 2016, Norma Jean began creating our Art Bra® collections and used her vision to bring an elevated look and feel to the runway inspired by designers like Alexander McQueen and The Met Gala.  She stepped into the role of Creative and Design Lead in 2018 and has been instrumental in creating the dramatic, high-fashion, “nothing else like it” Art Bra® Austin Runway Show that is the most highly anticipated event of each year.  This year, she and her Creative Team have REimagined the Runway virtually, and you won’t want to miss it!

Sydney Ann Fann & Valerie Garza

Sydney Anne Fann and Valerie Garza

Sydney and Valerie are esthetic students at Austin’s Avenue Five Institute. The duo, hailing from Killeen and Austin respectively, love crafts, skin care and all things related to and about the beauty industry. This year is the pair’s first time taking part as artists in Art Bra®. Sydney and Valerie were challenged to make a unique and creative bra for the show and say they “loved making something special for a survivor to wear.” The myth of mermaids and their mystical, enchanting quality inspired the design of their first-ever art bra, “Under the Sea.”

Yvonne Haghighatian

Yvonne Haghighatian

Yvonne was born in Austin and has lived here most of her life. She currently serves as the business manager for a political consulting firm and has been a BCRC client since her breast cancer diagnosis in January 2019. She had heard of Art Bra® Austin before, but had never gotten around to submitting an entry. Once she was diagnosed, she knew that had to change! During her free time, she is either busy making art (jewelry-making, sewing, drawing and painting are all in her wheelhouse) or volunteering with the Northwest Austin Kiwanis club, a group dedicated to helping children and the community. Yvonne also loves to travel and collect clothes and jewelry made by local artisans.

Austin Hankins

Austin Hankins

Austin was born and raised in Abilene and graduated from Texas A&M in 2009 with a degree in political science. She then moved to Austin to start her career at Apple, where she is now an operations manager. Austin loves working with her teammates across the globe, from Austin to Singapore. Her friend, a veteran Art Bra® model, encouraged Austin to create a bra for the runway show. With no design experience, Austin took inspiration from the 1940s and 1950s fashion styles of women in film using flowing fabrics, classic silhouettes, and beaded details. Outside of work, Austin spends time with her boyfriend and their two rescue pups, Scout and Scully. She enjoys reading, sewing, working on projects around the house, and, most of all, chasing after her two young nephews.e.

Cynthia Harding-Woodhull

Cynthia first became aware of Art Bra® Austin when she began to notice art bras on display in doctors’ offices while her sister was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She is a retired school teacher who became interested in textile artistry, and so she decided to create her first art bra in 2018. She is a fourth generation Texan and has lived in central Texas since the 1980s. She and her very patient husband, Bill, are the proud parents of three children, one of whom has Down Syndrome. Her family is very active with the Special Olympics and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Her interest in the environment led her to begin creating art from repurposed and vintage materials. Says Cynthia, “I think my biggest accomplishment is raising our children to be kind, thoughtful and self-sufficient adults, and for helping them to see the need to care for and protect our environment.” Cynthia’s art bra uses recycled materials and is “in remembrance of our mothers and grandmothers who lived in different times but had the same hopes and dreams we have today.”

Carolyn Jackson

Carolyn Jackson

Carolyn was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2003, and was referred to BCRC by her breast surgeon. There, she was greeted by a kind, caring and knowledgeable patient navigator who provided invaluable support. Carolyn joined a support group for those newly diagnosed and immediately felt that she was embraced and understood. In 2007, Carolyn decided to switch gears from working as a school teacher to found the Lee County Area Cancer Resource Center, which provides education and support to cancer survivors in her rural, underserved area. Carolyn created her first art bra in 2006 and has contributed her sewing and crafting skills annually to Art Bra® Austin as a way to give back to BCRC, an organization that helped her when she received her own overwhelming breast cancer diagnosis. Carolyn looks forward to Art Bra® every year, saying that fabrics, jewelry and crafting supplies always inspire her to envision new art bras.

Sam Jacobson

Sam Jacobson

Sam Jacobson, also known as Sapira, is an emerging artist working primarily in acrylic, mixed/found media and textiles. She moved to Austin from NYC in 2016 and has been shaping her creative style as a muralist and studio artist. You can see her work in various locations around town, and she often participates in art markets and live painting events. When she is not creating something, she loves taking her dog on adventures, drinking wine with her partner and friends, gardening and traveling. She has crafted bras for Art Bra® in both 2018 and 2019, and has experience on the wardrobe crew for various Broadway shows. She loves Art Bra® because she “loves contributing beauty to an organization and event that empowers women, especially after they’ve experienced such a huge life hurdle that can really weigh on their self-image and confidence.”

Cindy Lopez

Cindy Lopez

Cindy initially grew up in Dallas before moving to Colorado, but she couldn’t forget her Texas roots. She returned to her home state to attend Texas State University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in commercial art. Since that time, Cindy's contemporary acrylic and mixed-media artwork has been privately commissioned, displayed, and sold at public venues and galleries throughout Texas and California. She loves music and attending live music events every chance she gets. She can’t resist thrift shopping around town when the shopping bug hits, especially for vintage clothes and home decor. In 2015, The Piazza Center approached Cindy to design a bra for a patient who would be an Art Bra® model that year. Turns out, the patient was also a good friend of Cindy’s! After designing the “Phoebe Phoenix Rises,” Cindy was hooked and has made a piece for Art Bra® every year since. This year, “The Light” is in memory of her very dear friend Bill’s wife, who lost her second battle with breast cancer in December 2020. When she passed, Bill simply said, "The light has gone out of my life." Cindy lives in Austin with her husband and two sons.

Crystal McGookey

Crystal McGookey

Crystal is a long-standing member of the Art Bra Austin creative team. Originally volunteering at Scare for a Cure, she couldn’t help but see the attraction of Art Bra® Austin. Crystal is a born and bred Austinite who earned her degree in fashion merchandising from Texas State University. While enrolled, she won a scholarship from Corona Beer based on two commercials she wrote for them in a class! Crystal loves to sew and create, and is a “big fan of art for the sake of art.” The fact that she can create something while supporting a good cause is even more rewarding! She loves going fishing with her husband and going out to Fredericksburg to ride their two horses.

Shauna Fae Metts

Shauna Fae Metts

Though Shauna is originally from Pennsylvania, Austin is definitely her home. She manages compliance in a logistics company, but her real passion is doing anything crafty—she is a graduate of the Miami International University of Art & Design. Shauna is newly married and has two adorable boxer pups. She enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors and volunteering with Austin Boxer Rescue and BCRC. Art Bra 2021 marks her first time showing her artistic craft. Shauna travels a lot for work but brings her crafting with her to work on during downtime. She loves creating things, and felt that making a piece for Art Bra® would be a fun way to give back.

Olivia Moreno

Olivia Moreno

Olivia is a four-year breast cancer survivor. The youngest of 17 children, she moved to Austin as soon as she graduated high school to attend UT Austin. She fell in love with the city the minute she arrived and, eventually, her husband of now-21-years, Michael. Together, they have three beautiful children (Catherine, Jacob and Rose) and are both active members of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Hutto. Olivia has created an art bra every year since 2014. The work that BCRC does to ensure that no one faces breast cancer alone is what inspires her to be a part of Art Bra® every year. Her creations are symbolic of beauty emerging from chaos, much like what BCRC does for women who contact them amid crisis.

Michelle Parker

Michelle Parker

Michelle is a nine-year breast cancer survivor and six-year colon cancer survivor. She has a love for travel and a passion for giving back to her community. She has been a lifelong volunteer to those battling cancer, starting long before either of her own battles. She credits her wanderlust, creativity and strength to her mom, Jessie. Michelle enjoys exploring her creative side through different types of art and crafting, and this is her first year to use that to create an art bra.  Michelle is also a BCRC client and was a volunteer at previous Art Bra® events. She saw how the participants glowed while walking the runway, and how it boosted their confidence. She also saw how the attendees rallied behind the cause, and the incredible amount of funds that were raised for BCRC with just this one event. That inspired her to want to help fundraise to bring in as much money for BCRC as possible. To Michelle, BCRC is an organization that meets a critical need in the breast cancer community to support women who are battling the disease.

Tawny Rachelle

Tawny Rachelle

Tawny has worked in the beauty industry for over 19 years and loves every form of art. From pen to paintbrush, she enjoys creating anything with her hands, especially upcycling to make old things look new again. Tawny was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 years old and was introduced to BCRC by a close friend. She knew instantly that she had to be involved in Art Bra® in any way she could. In 2018, she created “A Walk in the Meadow” and in 2019, designed “Mysterium,” which she also modeled on the catwalk at Art Bra® that year. In her free time, you’ll find Tawny immersing herself in nature, whether it’s long walks or fishing at the nearest body of water, which she can, admittedly, sit by for hours.

Dianne Sonnenberg and Monica Meadows

Dianne Sonnenberg and Monica Meadows

Dianne is a 10-year breast cancer survivor, and an internationally-recognized professional artist and instructor. She has enjoyed renewed vigor and excitement with her art and career after recovering from treatment. Dianne’s artwork is inspired by nature and the beauty she witnesses both in her world and in her imagination. She creates intricate and finely crafted mosaic art pieces and sculptures.

Monica, a 20 year breast cancer survivor, is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Texas. After surviving cancer, she knew it was time to find a creative outlet to express the frustrated artist inside. She found mosaic art, met and took classes from Dianne, and the artist in her began to blossom. Monica’s artistic style is often described as whimsical, She loves to work with sparkly, shiny bling, and vibrant happy colors!

Elvia Julia Saucedo

Elvia is an Austin native and proud Texan who has worked for the Texas Department of Public Safety for 12 years. She is the mother of four amazing human kids and four rowdy fur babies. When the urge to create hits, her go-to is painting, but Elvia loves art in any form. Reading is what she prefers to do when she has time to relax, but she has also recently discovered the joy of archery. 2021 is her third year to donate a piece to Art Bra®. She got involved because BCRC helped a very close friend and co-worker of hers during her fight against breast cancer. Working best under pressure, Elvia got the idea to create her first art bra six months before BCRC’s submission deadline, and then cranked it out with just three days to go!

Diana Saunders

Diana Saunders

Diana is a native central Texan and longtime Austinite who’s had a bra featured in Art Bra® Austin every year since 2010. Growing up, Diana’s mother made most of the family’s clothing, including her beautiful one-of-a-kind prom dresses and her wedding dress. Recognizing her own artistic and creative genes, Diana started sewing for herself in the 1960s, and continued to do so for her own family. Her creations have evolved over the decades, and she self-describes her current artistic style as classic, yet modern. Diana says she creates art bras year after year because she “remain[s] impressed by the incredible courage these models must possess while facing the challenges of breast cancer as well as having what it takes to model the fantastic bras on a runway!” When she’s not creating art bras or crafting, Diana loves traveling far and near, attending plays and music events with friends, taking art and life enrichment classes, reading, staying physically fit, visiting with her family and just having fun in life!

Brandon Schaffner

Brandon Schaffner

Brandon attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, earning his BFA in photography. Design has always been his passion, and he’d probably lose his mind if he couldn’t create. During the day, Brandon is a senior UX designer, but by night you can often find him holed up in his garage welding, painting and customizing anything he can get his hands on. Lowriders, hotrods, low-brow art and skateboard art are among his first and longest-held inspirations. He lives in Austin with his wife, three kids and his dog named Sparrow. Brandon was motivated to create an art bra by his sister, who regularly volunteers with BCRC. He saw what a huge impact this fundraising runway show has on the breast cancer community and wanted to lend his creativity to that end.

Jillian Simmang

Jillian lives in Austin with her husband, daughter and two pups. She likes to go walking, illustrate (especially art deco designs), cook, bake and dance. Among her biggest accomplishments are raising her daughter and getting published. The Austin art scene has been in constant flow, and Jillian has jumped right in, finding her passion in taking previously loved jewelry pieces and breathing new life into them. After her work was featured on the wedding-planning site The Knot, she began feverishly creating new jewelry, including necklaces, body jewelry, earrings, crowns and other statement pieces for anyone wishing to embrace her inner goddess. Jill is not a stranger to the cancer community as her mother is a cancer survivor, and her husband's grandmother and aunt have both been in remission for several years. Participating in Art Bra® helps Jill fulfill her mission of helping build confidence in women. She has created a statement piece that exemplifies the beauty of a woman to uplift her, despite any and all struggles she may have faced.

Deborah Thomas

Debbie Thomas

Debbie was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec and moved to the U.S. in 1989. As a 10-year cancer survivor, she found her genuine passion from the incredible medical care she received throughout her cancer journey. Debbie is a wound-care registered nurse, so you can say that cancer was “the best worst thing that would ever happen to her.” She modeled in Art Bra® for the first time in 2019, and after the experience, she was inspired to create a bra for the 2021 show to help raise funds for BCRC. The bra she will wear this year was a collaborative design effort with her friends. She wanted to design something that would depict what it means to be a "warrior" in the breast cancer world: “It was a warm opportunity for us to be creative together and a reminder of how much more we can achieve with the support of friends,” she says

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Karen and Robin Weise

Karen and Robin Weise are a mother/daughter creative team who have participated in Art Bra® Austin in a variety of roles in the past. Karen is a five-year breast cancer survivor, BCRC client and Art Bra® committee member. Robin specially created her first art bra in 2017 for her mom to model, and this year they are back in action creating one together! Karen has experience with a variety of crafting mediums, from quilting to sewing to knitting, learning from her “amazingly skilled grandmother,” and Robin is a graphic design major in school in Virginia. They keep their family ties strong, hanging out long-distance via the internet and traveling together when they can.

Angela Wicker Ramos

Angela Wicker-Ramos

Angela is a native Austinite and the founder of Cancer Rehab and Integrative Medicine (CRIM), a wellness center devoted to Austin’s cancer community specializing in oncology rehabilitation and lymphedema treatment. CRIM offers integrative medicine, physical therapy and free exercise, wellness and mind-body-energy classes for anyone affected by cancer. For over 10 years, Angela’s mission has been to help people move beyond cancer and authentically thrive. When Angela’s grandmother and mother were diagnosed with cancer, BCRC was there for her family. Today, Angela supports BCRC through her business all year, including presenting at BCRC’s education events, contributing to its blog and offering services at metastatic retreats. In what spare time she has, Angela enjoys sewing, crafting, puppetry, travel, dancing and anything that brings fantasy and playfulness into her life.

Jessie Young

Jessie Young

Jessie is a radiation therapist at Texas Oncology Round Rock. She is originally from Arizona but moved to Texas during her active-duty time with the US Army. She was initially drawn to Art Bra® Austin in 2015 after meeting a BCRC thriver who had modeled. She created her first art bra for the show in 2016 and has been a staple artist ever since. Jessie is married with one child, and considers time with her family, music and food her biggest hobbies.

Kelly Zimbelman

Kelly Zimbelman

Kelly moved to Austin in 2003 with her four children, and now has three grandchildren. She works full time managing a busy medical practice and enjoys working with glass, tile, and beads in her spare time. 2021 marks Kelly's third year as an Art Bra® contributor, and she’s more excited than ever before to be participating. Kelly is proud of her accomplishments in life, both “big” and “small,” including surviving parenting, still being happily married after 31 years, watching her home garden thrive and being named an artist at Art Bra.