Healing through Art: A Local Artist’s Journey by AG Ortiz

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Healing through art
The journey of a local artist
By AG Ortiz

When most people look to the past, they do so with rose-colored glasses, shielding the ego from damaging or less beautiful parts, ensuring, more often than not, that past patterns are continually renewed. Looking with an honest eye requires strong self-esteem and a desire to break generational curses and heal childhood trauma. In such a position, the Chilean-born artist Alejandra Vasquez found herself at the start of the pandemic.
When asked to describe her earliest memories of creating art, Alejandra spoke of an affinity for coloring books and crayons, empty notepads that could spring to life under her fingertips. At school, his talents are quickly noticed by educators, but are lacking at home. She remembers growing up in an immigrant household where there was no extra money for things like art lessons or a variety of supplies.
“There was, as I had been told and read, no jobs or money in art. So unless you had rich parents or a benefactor, there would be no daily life with art. I still scribbled here and there, but I concentrated my studies elsewhere.
Although her love of art was renewed during an elective at Kean University, she pursued a degree in English literature, graduating in 1997 and eventually becoming a certified K-12 teacher. 8th grade in 2012. She would go on to win North Bergen Educator of the Year in 2020 and lead her students to the district’s second highest scores for language arts in 2022.
Increasing personal and professional stress led Alejandra to seek an outlet and she began therapy in late 2020. She was encouraged by her therapist to start creating again. She turned her attention inward and began the painstaking work of self-actualization.
” [Being an artist] it is when you are not complete unless you are creating. It is an irresistible urge, an aspiration that you cannot escape, you must paint, draw, write anything because it feeds your soul. This is how I feel about my art. I need it to heal, to meditate, to express what I’ve been hiding for so long.
Through her self-analysis, Alejandra was able to tap into her traumas and imbue her art with a soul that became her signature style of emotional chaos.
“We all have a story to tell; emotions, memories that have been pushed back inside. Some of those memories that we don’t remember, but our bodies do. It’s imprinted in our souls. I don’t don’t try to live again [these memories] to get more pain i try to process and release [those feelings]. Art – painting and writing – does that for me.
When she approaches her sketchbook or her canvas, Alejandra begins by exploring her sources of inspiration. Sometimes it can be as simple as a color or a desire to play with a new medium. More often than not, however, there is a desire to release pent up emotions.
“A feeling of grief, anger, love, joy or peace, which I feel a strong need to express but not always the image that goes with it. With these types of paintings I just start with intuition and lots of mistakes! I feel the painting telling me what to do next.
The healing of generational wounds is done in spurts and intermittently. There is no straight path and often full circles of retraumatization can leave patients feeling like progress will never happen. Art therapy provides an outlet for self-reflection in a safe space and can help patients stay on the path to growth.
Last year, Alejandra broadened her horizons and submitted her works to be considered for Jersey City’s 14C art exhibition, as well as establishing a social media presence and soon launching a gallery. eponymous website. She looks forward to the continued practice of healing through her artistic process and the opportunity to make art a full time investment in herself.

You can currently view Alejandra Vasquez’s artwork on Instagram @alejandravasquez8222.

*All quotes attributed to Alejandra Vasquez (July 2022)

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