Erin Greganti’s life changed after her 2019 Brushes with Cancer experience.
An artist, Greganti was matched with inspiration, Angela Fuller. Like the majority of our artist-inspiration pairings, these two were meant to be.
“Angela and I were both very nervous, so instead of a lighthearted intro, we just word-vomited on each other and went straight into the meat of it,” Greganti said.
Fuller’s story is one that is, in Greganti’s words, “heart wrenching.” Diagnosed with cancer while pregnant, Fuller had to make the unthinkable decision to save herself with cancer treatment or save her child and risk her own survival. All doctors recommended she terminate the pregnancy in order to live.
The story was especially gutting for Greganti, who was going through her own struggle with infertility.
“Unbeknownst to anyone – this information was not public – I found out I was not going to have children. That was happening in my own life on the backburner,” she said. “It’s a cosmic thing to be paired with this person and be close friends to this day.”
Greganti said the experience pushed her art to new levels and changed how she looked at survival.
“Through the process and through my experience going through Brushes with Cancer, I felt like it changed my life,” she said.
Becoming an artist
Greganti has been an artist her entire life, but found a way to incorporate art into her full-time work four years ago. Prior, she was in a much different career. Greganti holds a bachelor’s of science in human sciences, with a concentration on interior design. Her attention to detail made her great at the job and she enjoyed the work, but after a while, she said she got tired of being overworked and wanted a better quality of life.
For years, Greganti’s friend encouraged her to work for a company that pairs art lessons with wine. The friend sold the concept by saying “You just teach art to drunk people.”
The model has gotten increasingly popular over the years and the idea had been marinating long enough in Greganti’s mind that she gave it a shot. And Greganti has been having a blast with her new career path.
“When I got off work, I was excited to do my own personal artwork and it started to grow from there.”
Part of her job is networking with area bars and establishments to bring the paint-and-sip events to their venues. Greganti also has experience in the service industry, as well as strong connections in the Austin art scene.
“Austin values art.”
This year, Greganti will co-chair Brushes with Cancer Austin alongside survivor and Twist Out Cancer board member, Alana Dugandzic. Greganti was nervous about the honor, but her past experience with nonprofit organizations helped prepare her for the co-chair role.
“I was terrified of being co-chair. It seemed overwhelming, I didn’t know what to expect. Surprised at how much my experience from the Human Hug Project transferred over.”
At the time, Greganti was a military wife and co-founded Human Hug Project as a way to support our nation’s veterans. Seeing military life and the effects of war firsthand, Greganti and her co-founders Ian Michael and Gino Greganti all understand the emotions that come with it. The Human Hug Project was created to meet those emotional needs by having its members visit VA hospitals and give free hugs to veterans.
“The mission is to bring awareness to PTSD, while giving back to humanity,” Greganti said. “We encourage people to tell their stories and give free hugs, so it is very much along the same lines of the Twist Out Cancer mission.”
A big part of her role as co-chair is making connections and ensuring there is an artist’s perspective during the planning process.
“It feels fulfilling to be able to give the artists a little more of a voice,” she said.
Already plugged into the Austin art scene, Greganti knew her connections could deliver growth for Brushes with Cancer Austin 2020.
“Anytime an opportunity like this with magnitude and impact comes along it’s easy for our community to get involved,” she said.
For the 2020 Brushes with Cancer Austin event, Greganti helped recruit artists and match the artists and inspirations. Most important to her, however, is that this year’s artists and inspirations get the same life-changing experience she had with Fuller.
“I’m excited about the artwork and what happens this year with pairings and how the artists grow and push themselves” she said. “I think because this is my first year co-chairing the event, I’m apprehensive. I hope we honor everyone the way I felt honored.”
The October 25th Virtual Art Exhibit and Celebration is open to the public and tickets are available online.