Daring Women

Devoted to Art

By Rob Smith May 20, 2022

Eli Cheatham

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Seattle magazine.

Eli Cheatham is the artist formerly known as “Lizzie.”

Cheatham, who calls herself a passionate art lover, learner and communicator, is the founder of Seattle’s EMC Spaces, an art acquisitions and design consulting firm committed to creating spaces that reflect the passions and values of the people who inhabit them. 

She is also the director of Matrons & Mistresses, a nonprofit digital publication that highlights the invaluable role women play in the arts. Most recently, Cheatham has channeled her creativity toward leading the rebranding and strategic partnership efforts for International Farming Corp., a growing and innovative AgTech platform. 

Last fall, Cheatham said it was “high time” she had a name that “feels right.” She admits that close friends are still getting used to the name “Eli” rather than “Lizzie.” “But sometimes,” she writes, “you have to risk upsetting people you love and looking a bit crazy when it means following the small voice within.”

Though Cheatham now calls Seattle home, she remains connected with the North Carolina Museum of Art, serving on the board of trustees and acquisitions committee. She says she has a “true belief in the power of art, storytelling, and design to shift one’s perspective and touch one’s heart.”


The ability to figure out what your superpower is and then build a fabulous team around you is an invaluable attribute as a leader. 

Overrated Traits

I’m not certain that there are necessarily overrated traits. What I do believe is that many people waste time trying to lead in ways that are not natural to their wiring while ignoring where they have the potential to be truly exceptional.


As women, we are taught to look outside ourselves for salvation and guidance. We question our talents, fear our desires, and abandon ourselves again and again. Yoko Ono once wrote, “My religion is to trust myself.” Once we learn to do so, a self-imposed barrier falls away. 


Perfectionism is a myth that has been sold to women and it keeps us playing small. We are not required to have everything figured out before we have the right to put ourselves forward. Instead, we must learn to be a bit more audacious. 

Lessons Learned

My good friend Libby, a wonderful writer and matron of the arts, reminds me often that “I am the only one who can tell my story.” When I take this lesson into all aspects of my life, I am more courageous. Another pearl of wisdom that I have been holding dear recently came from the talented artist, Heather Gordon. After listening to me ramble for a bit about how I was struggling with imposter syndrome, Heather stopped me and said, “But, Eli, you’re not an imposter if you are actually doing it.”


Please, do the work necessary to release the competitiveness you have been groomed to have with other women. Consciously choose to champion each other’s works and lift up one another’s voices. For, as one of my teachers likes to say, “A rising tide lifts all ships.” 


I am naturally shy so the pressure to “have to network” makes me want to crawl in bed. Thankfully, I have found that when I follow my passions and take a genuine interest in others, the community comes together on its own. The best relationships that I have (professionally and personally) formed organically. 

Do Differently

I wish I had focused less on winning people over and more on shedding the stories I had internalized regarding what was “acceptable” for me to want and pursue. My career and my happiness took off when I stopped trying to fit into a system that was never meant for me. Today, I am committed to cocreating a world where we all feel emboldened to show up fully as ourselves. 


I have recently begun to hike, though I am most at home in a museum or curled up with a book. There is something magical about the woods. Each time I visit them, I emerge a happier, more resilient version of myself. 

Autobiography Title

“The Art of Reclamation.” I spent so much of my life trying to deny aspects of myself that I found undesirable. Now, I go about collecting those castoff parts realizing that they are an integral part to my wholeness.

Know a Daring Woman? Want to be a Daring Woman?

Seattle Business magazine is always looking for submissions for its Daring Women profile. The profile showcases top-level executives in organizations throughout Washington state.

To nominate, please complete the form below.

    Follow Us