The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle
Sober Nation came across the brilliant work of Vicki Lynn Rae. I immediately caught an interest in her work, and her honestly. We contacted Vicki and asked if we could interview her. As usual, there was a more to Vicki then I could have imagined. Her life is full of adventure, and also riddled with pain. The kind of pain that only addiction can bring forth. It’s beautiful to see ow Vicki found recovery, and learned to truly express herself through her art. Read the interview to learn more about the talented Vicki Lynn Rae.
SN – Hi Vicki. Thanks so much for doing this interview.
VLR – Of course. Thanks so much for featuring me. I’ll try not to take too long…and also refrain from writing you a novel. I find it hard to keep my answers concise as I have so much to say!
SN – Not a problem. Let’s get right to it. First and foremost. Who is Vicki Lynn? Tell us about yourself and a little about your story.
VLR – I was born in Vancouver, BC February, 1982. I was naturally drawn to art…. and have always been sensitive, contemplative with a strong intuition (that I had to learn to heed!)
I graduated high school with honors in 2000 and then spent 6 years travelling, taking formal education in Fine Arts and working various jobs. I spent 2 months backpacking in South Africa when I was 18 and shortly after that I accepted a tremendous opportunity to study abroad in Florence Italy. I attended the Lorenzo De Medici Art Institute where I studied fine arts, art history and Italian Language. It was a 6 month program and I explored parts of Italy, Greece, Amsterdam and Paris alone during that time.
Upon my return I briefly lived in Calgary Alberta and then flitted off to Australia to live in a van and pick fruit for a while. In 2004 I was accepted into the IDEA (design) program at Capilano University in North Vancouver but withdrew from the program before its completion. It was at this time that alcohol, which had been a semi daily companion and a welcomed reprieve from debilitating anxiety since age 14, had now transformed into a daily necessity and was beginning to destroy me. I worked as a barrista for 2 more years in Vancouver until 2006; the defining year of my life- the year I got sober.
Between the age of 14 and 24 my life was black and white. On one hand I was having amazing life experiences, travelling, working, meeting people. I was intelligent, independent and in many ways enjoyed life. On the other hand…internally…I was suffering immensely. I was anorexic, alcoholic and I self mutilated. I was self medicating to cope with a deep rift within me.
SN – On your website you speak a little bit about how work art portrays your journey through life, addiction and recovery. You mention your work is charged with e-motion (energy in motion) – what do you mean by that?
VLR – My work is charged with e-motion and I believe that emotion is ‘energy in motion’. What I mean by this is that I paint with my heart and not my head. If I start using my brain while I’m painting I stop and go for a walk or do something else until I can get back to my heart. When I am in my heart I am connected and open. My emotions are flowing, I am in a meditative state but very focused and alive. THIS is how I paint and I often refer to this as intuitive painting. I want to be open and allow the painting to unfold naturally. It takes a great deal of practice to paint from this place, to not allow my thinking mind to take over. When I paint like this I feel like the painting is alive, because the energy transfers from my deepest core through the brush and onto the canvas.
SN – It’s obvious that your art is a big part of who you are. What does your art mean to you? What does it mean in your life?
VLR – I was born to be an Artist. I need to create like I need to breathe. I connect to people through art. I connect to something greater than myself through art. I’ve been very fortunate my whole life in that my creativity and desire to paint and express myself through art has always been encouraged, celebrated and supported; by my teachers, my friends and most importantly my family. When I was a teenager art was a place I could go and truly be myself. Art is one ‘place’ in life where there really are no restrictions and rules. I was finding relief from my anxiety and self loathing through my addictions but I also found relief, a health and healing relief, in creating art. I didn’t know at the time but Art was and is my spiritual practice.
As my alcoholism consumed my life I painted less and less. In late 2005 I did a painting called ‘Saddest Face in the World’; found in my recovery series. This was the last painting I did before I got sober. I moved around a lot and somehow managed to keep all my canvases with me and I protected them like they were my children! I didn’t paint much in the last year of my drinking. I was too sick and despondent. I did however, have my art all over the walls in my apartment. The day I got sober I was sitting, staring at my paintings and contemplating suicide. ‘Something’ told me “You have to keep painting. One day your art will help heal people. It will help heal you.” I surrendered and that day became my sobriety date in Sept 2006. I went to a residential treatment centre and my councilor allowed me to keep a sketch book.
SN – So following up on that. How is it that your art helps your recovery?
VLR – I saw instantly how my art in recovery became a way to connect to people, a way to open conversations and a way to heal. A new fire was lit within me and I committed myself 100% to my sobriety and my art. I painted myself out of hell. I gave a voice to the darkness in me. Instead of denying it, blocking it, adding to it and running from it, I expressed it and released it in a healthy way. I had a new mantra for any time I felt overwhelmed: ‘Make it Creative’. One day I had tapped the well. There was a significant shift in my work from painting from the darkness to painting from the light. All of a sudden I was more interested in painting joyful things like animals and dance! I suddenly wanted to connect to people through joy. The whole journey was natural and necessary. I went right into the core of myself, cleared it out and was reborn.
SN – What is the end game? Is there a goal in mind? Maybe… maybe not?
VLR – As much as I try to live in the moment and take life a day at a time, I do have many goals and dreams in relation to my art. I want to sell my paintings so I can continue making new paintings. I also have a desire to turn my experiences into novel or film and I have an interest in public art sculpture. I just want to keep creating and to add something beautiful, meaningful and inspiring to peoples lives.
SN – That is all really fantastic. I am very happy for you and I know that what you are doing will continue to help people and most of all we are happy to know that you are living your dream! Tell us about how people to learn more about you.