Melissa Leuschel, originally from Florida, has been drawn to expressing herself through art since childhood. While studying education at the University of Central Florida, she was mesmerized by a giant stained glass installation in the University library. This sparked a fascination and appreciation of art glass, and she started studying stained glass after she completed obtaining her degrees in English and Education. After spending years in the Middle East and China as an educational consultant, she now uses inspiration from her time abroad and the world around her to create her own unique modern stained glass art pieces in her studio in Tucson, AZ. Her use of traditional arches as a frame for many of her works nods to a respect of the origins of the craft, and also to contrast a subject against traditional ways of thinking. A big motivation for Melissa in her art is her dedication to social justice/ activism and this can be seen in her donation suncatcher solidarity fist pieces, and in her raffle pieces (proceeds from which are donated to the Arizona Undocumented Workers Relief Fund and to the organization No More Deaths). She is also strongly motivated by using art as a connection to the community, and her goal is to connect with more artists in Tucson to create collaborative pieces that would combine shared beliefs through varied mediums. She has partnered with multiple artists to create collaborative pieces to challenge herself as an artist and explore multiple techniques through expression in stained glass.