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Local artist finds personal wellness through art.

By Brittany Carter

A local artist credits her artwork as the catalyst for personal growth; she has become a more authentic version of herself since giving into her artistic calling.

Ashley Marazzo, owner of Midgard Metal Works has been crafting and creating trinkets and “shiny things” for about as long as she can remember. Growing up as a single child, she says she was left to amuse herself. Her adventurous and pioneering spirit combined with the influence of her mechanic father allowed her to experiment with different mediums.

“There were always random pieces of scrap and things laying around. I’ve always been inspired by nature as well. So, I used to make random things all the time growing up.”

And though from a young age she showed an affinity for forging art from her surroundings, it took her a long time to self-identify as an artist. When she was kicked out of art class in high school for not being able to draw a bowl of fruit – she says she nearly took the claim of having no artistic talent to heart.

But as anyone who knows Marazzo can confirm, she’s not one to follow a predetermined path set by someone else’s ideas of who she should be.

She began diving more and more into metal work after a friend gifted her a copper tree from Chinatown for her birthday.

“The top was twisting copper and a gemstone. But it was badly hot glue gunned onto badly painted ceramic. That irritated me to no end and made me irrationally angry,” she says.

“And then I was like, I can make trees better than this.”

She picked up cheap wire from the dollar store and began crafting her own trees and her art just grew from there. Now, when she’s not crafting jewelry and décor out of copper and found animal bones, she’s building large installments for art shows, and for herself.

She says she’s learned there’s freedom in giving up on perfection.

“The illusion of perfection - it's a trap. I found that when I got rid of the illusion of having to do everything perfectly, I started relying on myself and my abilities, and my skills more, and the pieces turned out better.”

Marazzo says she’s gone through shy, anxious phases in her life. From being cut down by other artists and needing to rise above cattiness, to learning not to take other people’s criticism to heart – she’s battled her anxiety and come out stronger for it.

For a long time, she says going out and meeting new people was the last thing she’d want to do. Pushing through the anxiety and fear, she says when she would go out, she would bring a kit of supplies to work on. It helped her find comfort in the moment while also propelling her skills further.

Just as it took her time to fully accept herself as a “real artist,” she also needed time to fully reconcile her artistic inner self with her own outer depiction.

“I was like so professional and rigid, and people would say things like, “Your demeanor doesn't represent your art,” which is interesting. My body language, I was trying to stand and be all proper, like any artist that I had ever met.”

Now, Marazzo has fully embraced herself, inside and out. Her art depicts an adventurous, individual spirit combined with a steadfast resolve and stubbornness to pour her soul into each piece she crafts. Wearing her “battle armour,” which is what she calls her unique style and one-of-a-kind accent jewelry pieces; she is prepared to remain mindful while approaching the next challenge.

And she’s no stranger to challenges.

Marazzo lives with Epilepsy and has needed to mold her life around the possibility of seizures, which can occur a couple times a month without notice, she says.

There’s fear in the unknown, she admits. But there’s also beauty in chaos. She says she’s come to appreciate the value in each moment. And though not every day is productive, just like everyone else she has good and bad moments, she strives to live each day for herself.

“Finding joy in the simple moments and not taking things for granted.” She says it’s a philosophy she aims to live by.

Next, she dreams of weaving art into everyday life.

“That visual slap about the simple joys of life. Like custom cutting boards, different drawer pulls, you know, you go to open your drawer to get dressed in the morning and it's maybe a custom handle that reminds you of a certain time of your life.”

Just as Marazzo has found her own peace of mind through her art, she encourages anyone to try their hand at their own art. She’s been hosting Bad Art Nights at Third Space Café on Queen Street in Niagara Falls as a way to introduce the concept of simply creating art, no

matter how bad.

“It's more healing than I think people realize.”

She says often people would come in for the Bad Art Nights, and they wouldn’t know where to start. She says as soon as she introduces some lighthearted humour, “The whole atmosphere changes.”

“So just a reminder that we are in control of our emotions, even though it feels like we're not. It just takes a lot of work, but it is definitely worth the effort.”

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