July 24th, 2024

Artists creating space for writers to grow and connect


By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 9, 2023.

Herald photo by Theodora MacLeod Teri Petz and Sarah Christensen share an embrace. The two will soon host 'Write Your Heart Out,' a group that emphasizes connection and healing.

In a world of eight billion people, it can be rare to find those true connections, the people who just click.

For Teri Petz and Sarah Christensen, two Lethbridge artists, the bond was instantaneous when they met in April of 2023. Believers might link it to a divine power, while others could consider it serendipity, but no matter the forces that brought them together, when Christensen met Petz after moving nearby, they found something within each other that one can spend a lifetime searching for: true friendship. Now, they want to create a space for others to find the same joy, healing, and camaraderie.

Nestled between The Owl Acoustic Lounge and Pita Pit, on 3 Ave. S. sits Visual Art and Tattoos where Christensen sells works by local artists -including Petz – offers workshops, and tattoos. It is also where the pair plans to host ‘Write Your Heart Out,’ a group that will use writing in its many forms as a way to grow, learn, and heal while forming genuine connections.

When Petz moved to Lethbridge in 2014, a Hungarian immigrant coming by way of Victoria, she joined a group of women meeting to discuss poetry, it was that tightknit group that brought her to hosting open mic poetry readings at The Owl. “The community was very supportive of it, and they still are. That has been going for five years now. Through the small group and through the open mics, I discovered the healing power of poetry and speaking your truth. No matter what you say, it’s okay,” she explains.

“Then I thought, I could probably grow this into something different. I had these visions of having workshops for people where they would use poetry, stories, or letter writing as a healing tool. And that’s what we’re trying to start.”

Petz explains that the idea of a poetry group isn’t exactly new.

“I don’t think I’m inventing the wheel with this. I’m sure there are other people doing similar things.” Though she adds, “I use the art side to do healing.”

Visual Art and Tattoos is just one of Christensen’s community focused artistic endeavours in her lifetime.

Prior to opening her business, she ran a program for at-risk youth that encouraged artistic expression and provided kids with a safe place to grow. Youth Art & Political Pirates (YAPP) ran for two years, and Christensen used her own experiences being homeless as a young person to bond with the participants.

“I’d just sit out on the stoop, and I’d wait for kids to walk by that looked at risk, and I’d say ‘hey… wanna come down to my basement and make art.’ Every time, ‘yeah I do!'” Today, Christensen still makes a point of interacting with community members experiencing homelessness. She welcomes them into her store, offering them a space to sit and talk.

Both Christensen and Petz have personally experienced the healing power of creating. It is why they are so passionate about connecting others to the same methods of healing.

With that, they also recognize the power of destruction too, suggesting that the act of burning or ripping up a piece of writing or art can lead to a release of the deepest feelings kept inside. “You take that energy that exists, and you make it happen somewhere else,” explains Christensen.

What will make ‘Write Your Heart Out’ a unique experience for those involved are Petz and Christensen themselves. Both women, filled with a graciousness that welcomes those around them, are forces to be reckoned with. Christensen’s bubbly, think-outside-the-box mentality is immediately contagious, almost a contrast to Petz’s gentle thoughtfulness and endless wisdom. Radiating authenticity, they approach connection and healing with openness, finding joy where they can and hoping to spread it to those around them.

“I started to look at how I can make my gifts a gift to the people around me, and this is why I wanted to do this,” says Petz.

Meeting details for ‘Write Your Heart Out’ will be released soon in the community calendar. Those with questions are invited to contact Sarah or Teri at visualartandtattos@hotmail.com or https://www.worksofbeauty.ca/contact.html

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