Getting to Know Eliana Gray: "Eager to Break"
Written by: Kayla Dewees
Model and Artist: Eliana Gray
Photographer: Jessica Thompson- Carr
Stylist: Ruby Moon
Jewelry Designer: Bad Moon
Clothing: Bad Moon Thrift
The up and coming artist Eliana Gray from the New Zealand pop duo "Jaggers x Lines" has many talents to share with fellow artists. Eliana is an amazing musician, poet, and fellow human being with emotions to share, leading to her most recently published poetry book "Eager to Break," which explores her experiences as a queer person and struggles with mental health. Upon our interview with Eliana, we got to know her and all of her quirky fun relatable honesty, which is something that is truly valued in today's society.
When we asked how she describes herself she replied "A two-year old dressed like your crappy skater boyfriend. Hamlet, if he was less of a dick. An exhausted puppy, a hermit crab, a Virgo with a Capricorn stellium and a hard-on for perfection. Jo March and Teddy rolled into one." All the things we love in this world. We got to talking more about the difficult obstacles in life and asked how she has overcome these difficulties, "Therapy! My utter dedication to resilience and survival. I couldn’t have made it without myself. And I couldn’t have been myself without my family, my partner (a champion amongst humans) and perhaps, most of all, my four best friends who’ve been with me since adolescence. The most incredible group of women. My heart is like a patchwork quilt we’ve built together and I love them more than anything in the world. I’m surprised I don’t exclusively write dribbling romantic odes to their inspirational qualities."
One of the many things that we love about Eliana, is that she takes a stronghold of pride in her identity. We asked how the LGBTQ community has shaped her life. "I have been so lucky in my life to have a queer support network that folded me into their arms even before I knew I was queer. I remember being at a Pride event planning meeting and raising my hand to ask if it was ok that I was there even though I ‘wasn’t queer’. Of course it was, they said. Many years later I recalled this event with a close friend as we recounted the moments in our own queer discovery timelines. When I asked what they thought of that moment all they could say, in between tears of laughter, was, 'Oh, baby. We knew.' And I think I did too, I’ve always known, but it’s incredible what we can obscure for ourselves until we’re ready to see it."
As art is a huge part of Eliana's life, Cerulean decided to dig deeper into the aspect of art therapy for creatives, she shared how this has helped her. "Art has supported me all my life, as I think everyone must feel? It’s like another lover. Beautiful, caring, illuminating. In a more literally personal sense, making music and poetry as a way to process trauma has been instrumental to my healing process. It allows me to create external portraits of my experiences. This creates a semi-objective space. It’s like, if I can look at something as from outside myself, I can believe it. If it stays in my head it never becomes concrete. Making art about my trauma allowed me to believe that it had happened. And it’s very difficult to heal from something while you’re in denial about it ever happening in the first place. Making art gives me empathy for myself." When molding these two aspects of art and mental therapy, Eliana has created a book of poetry to process these hardships and form it into something beautiful.
Well, what can we expect from her poetry book Eager to Break? "A tender and resilient humor about experiences designed to break and hurt us. An, ‘I see you’, for people holding pain, followed by a, ‘we’ve got this’. A wink and a smile whilst bleeding. An emotional deep tissue massage. Being thrown into an unfamiliar ocean only to discover you’ve always had gills." Such powerful words to reassure us that we aren't alone! Who's ready to buy a copy?!
Upon discussing this topic of mental health, we asked Eliana a piece of advice to give to others who struggle with mental health, "Your pain is real and I believe you. You’re not wrong, this is hard stuff and you’re always, always doing a better job than you think. Treat yourself like you would treat a tiny kitten you found on the street. Hold yourself gently, take yourself home and give yourself a little bowl of milk. You are precious treasure and you deserve to be protected and loved."
Through taking on mental health and using positive mediums to harness struggle and shape it into something powerful, we asked Eliana how she pursues her passion, she replied "my instant impulses are helpful in that when I become attracted by something I will do everything I can right that second to make it happen? I don’t think this is sustainable though and my other biggest balancing act is burn-out so, it’s a constant learning, how to pursue life. I think I pursue my passions by continuously learning how to." That being said, what's next for Eliana? Her first-ever writers’ residency! Next year she's been selected to undertake a writing residency in Finland, which means she gets to write in a tiny house in the middle of Finland to work on her second poetry collection (pretty exciting, we know). "I’m really excited about this because what I‘m exploring in my new writing is how we reconcile notions of ‘being healed’ or ‘better’ with the non-linear nature of healing from trauma. Do we ever finish healing? How do we decide? How do we navigate these interstitial spaces in a society obsessed with ‘the end-game’? How do we heal?" If you want to follow Eliana's journey to Finland you can find out more here:
"If you want to get your peepers on the book and take a little bit of ur pal (me), home, you can do that here":