"This is the largest painting I have done (and I really want to do more in this size range)! There are so many layers on it – I just let it evolve into what it wanted to be. It is nothing like it started as, but people are similar in their growth and complexities. The finished product reflects the feel hanging in the air at twilight - a light yet heavy dreamy contemplation."
- Emily Forbes
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“In examining the finished product, I'm able to discover my deepest feelings and core self. If I focus on my inner self and push away judgment, I am happiest and most surprised by what I find.”
Lifelong Twin Cities resident Emily creates art that is as beautiful as it is emotional. Their use of alcohol inks creates vivid, impactful work that has the power to transform any space. Below the surface, this work is powered by their own personal transformation.
Emily’s life changed dramatically after a car accident in their early thirties. They sustained a traumatic brain injury from the crash which changed their life at the core. While adjusting to the new reality, Em learned to play with art as a form of therapy. Creativity gave them an outlet to process their emotions and grieve. Em explains, “Living with invisible illnesses that have forced me to mourn the loss of my old self has been a very complex and difficult experience. A large part of finally moving forward was the addition of art as a means of play and release to my journey.”
Em poured their emotions into each piece and learned to let go. They explain, “This led into the intuitive abstract style I have today. Before this, I always needed to have a plan and know exactly how to do something, which was very stressful and often discouraged me from starting in the first place.” Suddenly, Em was engrossed by the freedom of abstract art, giving themself permission to lose their plans and let the ink lead them.
Alcohol ink is their favorite for its vibrant, free-flowing nature. “It feels very connected to my inner self and reveals a lot about my state of mind during the creation process,” they express. Em enjoys using acrylics as well, which allows them to be more physical in their technique. When starting a piece, Emily sometimes feels extremely inspired by a particular song, life event, or feeling, and releases it all in a sudden burst. Conversely, there are other times when they feel a much more subtle urge to create, and let that inkling lead them. They explain, “I take a moment to relax and tap into listening to myself. I release all judgments as best I can and reach for whatever color pops into my head – it will just "feel" right.”
Speaking on how they feel when their work is complimented, Em explains “Honestly, humbled and a bit overwhelmed and shy. It is incredibly touching to have something so close to me resonate with someone else. It can also make me feel like there is a reason I am drawn to do this.” After losing the ability to work a full-time job, art provides a sense of purpose, and the appreciation of their work only affirms this. Through all of the trials and tribulations, Emily learned that as bad as things feel, life can get better. When asked about their biggest accomplishment, Em says, “I’ve kept going.”
Emily’s hopes for the future are to have a daily creative practice, love and understanding for themself, and a strong support network. They share, “I would like my experiences with ArtLifting to give me an increased sense of self-confidence, purpose, and self-worth. I want to have continual inspiration and support to create and try new things. Expanding outside interest in my artwork is a bonus!”
They are also passionate about LGBTQIA+ rights, disability rights, and mental health awareness, serving as an inspiration to those around them. Recently diagnosed with autism, Em continues to learn about themself but embraces each change with patience and positivity. When Emily is feeling good, they enjoy reading, playing games, spending time in nature, and cuddling with their cats.
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by disabilities and housing insecurity by connecting their art with socially-conscious customers . Learn more here.