Ezra is a writer, poet, spoken-word artist and a Winter Indie Studio Artist-in-Residence. They share with us why therapeutic art is important in the process of growing with traumatic experiences. Follow them on on Facebook and Instagram at @EzraWrites.
My practice is in writing, visual art, and performance art specializing in poetry and spoken word. I enjoy incorporating visuals with my poetry to develop a deeper understanding of what I have written about. Combining illustrations with words often intensifies the intimacy of my work: the goal is to create a vivid emotional atmosphere that myself and the audience can inhabit.
I like to explore how watercolour and ink can blend to create dream-like images which represent living with the nightmares and flashbacks of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I put strong importance on pairing my art process with both professional care and healthy coping techniques.
I have been writing since I first had language, as a child hiding away with my typewriter. As a non-binary and queer trauma survivor, writing has always been a form of therapy for me. I used to throw all of my art out but in the last couple of years, I started keeping it and performing. I started writing as a form of confessional to process my own life and growth. Yet I discovered that performing poetry was a transformative experience for both myself and others. Taking the courage to articulate these feelings gives me and my audiences new perspectives on how to grow with things that can often feel stunting.
Ezra performing their spoken-word pieces (above and below)
Coming to Indie Studio was by chance. It was recommended that I apply, though I didn’t expect to be accepted and then have such a rewarding experience. I really wanted somewhere I could do my art and grow a bit more as a person. It is really important to me to be able to have safe space to go to and work on my art and connect with the community as I am developing my practice. I’m glad that I took the chance and applied.
My inspiration to do art is usually connected to my desire to live and heal with my past. In my life right now the inspirations I hold closest to me are the ability to grow, and all of the things I am grateful for. The people around me in the community who are educating themselves to better themselves and help others has given me a newfound hope for the world. I’m grateful for the land I walk on; the shelter over my head; my partner; and a very lovely cat, Finn. I get a lot of energy from nature and the things the world gives me, and what I try to give that back; I like seeing a community that works together to do the same.
I don’t ever like to predict my own future, but I do have a lot of goals. I want to be a part of a slam team in my future and travel with my performance.
I’d love to go out east to the Nova Scotia area, Mi’kma’ki. I want to see where my ancestors came from, as a Mi’kmaw person.
I’d like to be able to keep using my art as a tool to cope and grow and to help others. I want to use performing to inspire others to do the same.
As a resident artist who is involved with groups in the community, I seek to combine my art practice with community involvement. This will include continuing facilitating workshops and doing education outreach on the relation between trauma, identity, and art. I feel like I stopped myself from doing art and showing my art for a long time, partially because I didn’t have the confidence or the motivation. I feel like I’m doing small justice for my past self just by showing other people not to stop themselves from doing the things that they love.
The first thing I learned when I started actually wanting to keep my art was that art is pretty subjective. I think anyone can accomplish the things that they want to, but it’s hard to believe that for yourself.
Ezra in the zone creating art pieces
Art has given me a way to process the things that have happened to me and in the world. It’s given me the ability to cope the way I want to, and express myself in healthy ways.
For me, the process of believing this is starting with learning to do art for myself. Once I did art for myself and not for the expectations of other people, I started liking what I was doing way better and I actually improved.
In turn, I’ve grown a lot as a person. So, my advice would be to just do it for yourself.
Photo credits: Ezra Stewart