Top of page
Skip to main content
A better 2024-2025 FAFSA form is now available. Apply Today! Questions? Contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships
Lizz Denneau works in her studio smiling at the camera

Tucson Artist Found Her Creative Footing at Pima

Lizz Denneau, Tucson based artist and art educator, found community and the skills to pursue her creative dreams at Pima

By Patty Machelor for Pima Community College

Lizz Denneau has lived in Tucson all of her life, teaching at area schools and helping local foster care youth through art. 

Her many gifts to the community since her graduation from Flowing Wells High School in 1997 stem back to a challenging childhood that made her deeply empathic. 

These gifts also were helped along by what she learned at Pima Community College. 

“Pima,” Lizz said during a recent interview, “has been in my life for a very long time.” 

After high school, Lizz thought she knew what she wanted to do, and signed up for theater classes at Pima. “I was a high school theater nerd and thought I wanted to go into theater, and possibly teach theater,” she said. While Lizz said her instructors and fellow students at Pima were “wonderful,” she realized teaching theater was not in her future. 

She left Pima and began working with kids in crisis, and also started designing and making clothing. It wasn’t long before she decided she needed more sewing skills. 

“I was breaking sewing machines, trying to employ what my mom had taught me,” she said, laughing. 

Lizz Denneau works in her studio on a painting
Lizz Denneau in her studio. Photo by Joshua Lamoreaux, External Relations

And so she went back to Pima. 

This time, Georgeann Fimbres was her instructor. Lizz said she learned a great deal from Georgeann, who served as head of Pima’s Fashion Design Department for more than 40 years. Soon, Lizz was showing her designs at events all over the state. 

Over time, Lizz went on to start a Tucson Fashion Week while teaching sewing at a youth center called Skrappys. 

“We wanted to promote and connect local designers to the public and fundraise for Skrappys,” she said. She also started an online indie fashion line called CandyStrike. 

“At Pima, everybody is there to learn. I felt really amongst my people,” she said. “And the art department there is fantastic. ” ~Lizz Denneau

As the years passed, Lizz continued to work with youth and continued to sew but she knew she eventually wanted to go back to school. One thing she considered: getting a teaching degree.  

And so, at age 37, she decided it was time. 

“I was nervous about going to the university,” she said. “Pima seemed within reach.” Lizz said she took every Pima class she could fit in her schedule. 

“At Pima, everybody is there to learn. I felt really amongst my people,” she said. “And the art department there is fantastic.”

She started making sculpture, something she’d never done before, and loved it. 

“I remember Lizz as experimenting with non-traditional materials that added a connection to the materials’ history and content,” said Joe Dal Pra, head of Pima’s Visual Arts Department and Lizz’s former teacher. 

Joe teaches art, 3D design, sculpture, metal fabrication and metal casting. One of the things he enjoys most is helping students like Lizz develop their ideas and related projects.

Lizz Denneau in her studio smiling at the camera
Lizz Denneau in her studio. Photo by Joshua Lamoreaux, External Relations

“I try to teach people to challenge themselves,” he said, “and explore ideas and materials.” 

After Pima, she earned her bachelor’s in fine arts degree with an emphasis in art and visual culture education from the University of Arizona and then a master’s degree from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. 

While teaching art at Marana High School, Lizz spent two and a half years working on that degree, and would spend her summers in Chicago, which she loved. She graduated with her master’s degree in July 2023. 

“I was a snowbird,” she said, laughing. “It was so wonderful.” 

Today, Lizz teaches advanced art at Tucson High Magnet School. 

In addition to teaching, she is  also a member of the Art21 Educators Institute and the co-founder of the Southwest Black Artists Collective, which focuses on providing support and opportunity to Black artists in the Southwest and a co-owner of The Projects, an art space in Downtown Tucson.

Back to main content Back to top