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Self-Expression as Survival
December 10, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
The writer Gregory Orr believes, “Poetry is about survival first of all. Survival of the individual self, survival of the emotional life.” It is my belief and experience that Orr’s statement applies to most creative pursuits, including various modalities of art and self-expression that have helped me move through and beyond the traumatic events of my early life. Our own creativity has the unique gift of helping us process the unrelenting amount of information we’re exposed to, including the overwhelming, painful, and traumatic memories that can threaten to undo us. “Self-Expression as Survival” de-emphasizes the importance of identifying as an artist, and instead focuses on the many ways creativity can combat the reality that trauma often renders us voiceless. It is not hyperbole to say that my exploration of photography, watercolor, performance art, sculpture, and, most importantly, writing memoir, saved my life. I learned to create order from chaos, make meaning from the mess, and transform something big and boundaryless into a work of art I could hold in my hands. To share our suffering in some way—trading off playing the role of artist and observer—is an important way forward.