A long-time resident of Lake Michigan’s southwestern shore, Elizabeth G Fagan is a photographer, artist, and writer. “For most of my life, I lived within walking distance of Wrigley Field in Chicago. Then I relocated to southeastern Wisconsin.”
Fagan calls her region Lake Michigan’s Left Coast. “On a map, Chicago and Wisconsin are both on the left-hand side of the Lake” Fagan explains.
Just before her 13th birthday, Fagan’s family moved from the Washington, DC area to the Connecticut shoreline. Fagan attended a private arts high school adjacent to Hammonasset State Park on Long Island Sound. There she began writing and taking photographs. “The Hammonasset School was the epitome of a hippie school. No grades, no requirements. It was a different era,” she says.
Fagan went on to study at Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA), Grinnell-in-London (UK) and UIC (Chicago), where she earned a BA in English. Continuing at UIC, Fagan acquired an MA in Linguistics with a specialization in teaching English as a second language (ESL). After college, she became an editor at a Chicago–area book publisher. A few years later, Fagan launched a successful writing and consulting business.
Then the internet came along. Fagan viewed it as the world’s publishing platform and wanted to be part of it. She returned to college for an associate degree in Web Development from DePaul University (Chicago). “Websites were static pages at first. Then we started innovating. It was exciting. We had a lot of fun.”
Professional highlights included an invitation from Microsoft to work on a version of Windows. “I almost fell out of my chair when I got an email from Microsoft asking if I wanted a job! I enjoyed working in the Seattle area on a contract basis. But I had married a Chicagoan who never wanted to leave Chicago.”
On returning to Chicago from Microsoft’s campus, Fagan landed a position at Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios in Chicago. “Oprah has always been one of my heroes. She overcame so many obstacles to become the world’s most successful woman.” Fagan started as a front-end coder and was promoted to Manager of Web Development. She worked on oprah.com for five years.
As the internet expanded, web teams and web specialists evolved. As a freelance writer for corporate websites, Fagan was told to write “search-optimized content loaded with keywords.” As a contract user-experience architect (“a type of web designer”), Fagan’s projects centered on shopping carts and ad banners.
“The internet was monetized, and the work became repetitive” says Fagan. “The online world and our smartphones are a giant shopping mall ruled by big business, patrolled by search engines. And there are so many malevolent parties trolling around. It’s just not fun anymore.” Fagan stepped away from her corporate career.
“My online professional portfolio is sort of a disastrous pile of text, images, and web code,” says Fagan. “I link to it on lakemichigansleftcoast.com, but I don’t want to revisit it to fix it up. My life is so different now.”
Fagan was happily married—no children by choice—when she abruptly became a widow. “I miss him every day,” says Fagan. “We had a posh urban lifestyle in Chicago. We traveled a lot—New England, the Caribbean, Europe. I miss that, too.”
Fagan’s family has deep Wisconsin roots. “My parents were Wisconsin natives who met at UWM. My two sisters and I were all born in Madison. We lived in Thiensville until I was 10.” Her mother, to whom she was close, lived in Cedarburg for many years. “My Mom died a few years after my husband died. I wanted to move to the end of the world. I made it as far as Wisconsin.”
Fagan now lives in what she calls a “run-down, mid-century Lake Michigan cottage” with two cats and a German Shepherd named Rosie. She writes, takes photographs, and makes art. Formerly a long-time urban dweller, Fagan says, “living on a Great Lake is like camping, but in a house.” She also gardens—”that’s a euphemism for fighting invasive species”—and collects rocks and fossils along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
Fagan reports she has been listening to rock’n’roll all her life. She enjoys film of all eras and listening to Chicago Cubs games on the radio. “Wrigley Field was my neighbor for 35 years,” says Fagan. “When I worked downtown, I took the El. In summer, I rode with Cubs fans headed for Wrigley. The beautiful ballpark, the summer crowds, the bars and sports shops were all part of my neighborhood. The Chicago Cubs are part of who I am.”
Over the years, Fagan has maintained her own blogs and websites. Currently, lakemichigansleftcoast.com is her only active website. She creates the necessary code, writes the content, creates the art, and posts the images. “I use wordpress for lakemichigansleftcoast.com. That makes everything a lot easier than writing all the code yourself,” says Fagan.
A former Chicagoan, Elizabeth G Fagan is an artist and writer who resides in southeastern Wisconsin—a place she calls Lake Michigan’s Left Coast. Her art begins with her own photography. Then she alters her photos digitally to create images that can be printed in a variety of media: unframed prints or canvases; custom-framed prints or canvases; 5″×7″ or 8″×10″ wood panels; pillows, throws, calendars, greeting cards, coffee mugs, and more. Artwork dimensions given in inches.
- Cedarburg Artists Guild
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- Twitter @roscoefagan
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About artist, photographer, and writer Elizabeth G Fagan
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