Eztrella Towa Armijo (they/she) is a multi-dimensional being, a multi-modal creator, and a multi-instrumental musician. Ez specializes in Eco-Art Therapy - bringing their love of nature together with their creative passions. Throughout their journey of learning, internship, and personal exploration and expansion, Ez has been experimenting with innovative materials usage and sonic expression. Using music as well as visual art to capture and communicate their experience with nature as inspiration, refuge, and a beloved confidant.
My internship is taking place at an Eco-therapy-centric site, a farm where nature is a co-therapist. I get to experience all the awesomeness and all of the challenges of doing therapy outside - beauty, expansiveness, walk and talk hikes, chatting by the fire, weather and seasonal changes, and the advantages and disadvantages of animal-assisted therapies. In the process of becoming a new therapist, I have also discovered many harsh realities of overwhelming amounts of paperwork, navigating systems, and all the lies beyond my control.
This collection of art exemplifies nature as my container/non-container, as I am learning to do therapy outside the box, so to speak. The elements of my art are constructed like a drum, suspending the art within the somewhat frail stick frames. I have often felt suspended, or held by my setting while also feeling like I am really just trying to hold myself together. There is also a sense of interconnectedness bringing the abstract and figurative together.
In step with the experiential and multisensory offerings of eco-art therapy, I also wrote a song that captures some of the concepts I have learned and challenges I have traversed thus far in my internship journey.
The Old Ways for New Phases & The Return of Crow, 2022
Organic mixed media on 9 x 12” watercolor paper, yarn, natural found objects
In The Old Ways for New Phases & The Return of Crow, I utilized found objects from nature as well as inks made from harvested and foraged materials. The process of making the art was more than just applying the color to the paper - it was an exploration literally outside and within. Old Ways for New Phases (top right) was initially a test of my homemade botanical inks which I made using some traditional methods- bringing plants and flowers like cosmos, sunflower, blueberry, and rose, as well as acorn cap and oak gall inks into my repertoire. I learned about the alchemical process, how to add “modifiers” that affected alkalinity or acidity (ph), and other properties that can allow the same material to change into a varied spectrum of colors. The image born from my exploration was unexpectedly interesting to me. I sometimes have a hard time doing abstract work - and so I loved looking back in retrospect and seeing what happens when I make art through curiosity and play rather than attempting to make something literal and recognizable. I can see how I, too, have come through my own alchemical process, how challenges change me, and how my experiences offer me a chance to sample the varied spectrum of emotions and the depths of my humanity.
The Return of Crow (lower left) was the first figurative image I made with my homemade botanical inks. Crow is an archetypal figure who has been with me my whole life. She often plays the role of my inner critic who I sometimes battle in challenging times. She can be mean to me, she can make me feel not good enough, and she can throw me into self-doubt. Yet in this image, she appears to be somewhat neutral, not necessarily ominous. She is just coming in for a landing, here yet again, to teach me something important. The many times she has visited me, even though I feel I suffer deeply through my inner struggles, I find I am always grateful for the facades and illusions she shatters. Somehow the lessons are always about self-compassion, self-forgiveness, and self-love… Letting go and allowing myself to be perfectly imperfect, and relinquishing my unrealistic expectations of myself - letting life be messy. She brings the painful yet transformative deaths of ego layers that make much-needed space for me to be reborn anew.
Interconnected (The Image and The Song), 2022
Organic mixed media on 22 x 30” watercolor paper, yarn, natural found objects
This image is more than a self-portrait, it was drawn from a mirror on a day I was feeling particularly defeated by my life. When I look at it I am reminded of how I often take myself a bit too seriously for my own good… And how my heavy seriousness can be lonely. Also displayed in this image are the lyrics for the accompanying song “Interconnected.” - scan the QR code/link below with your phone camera to listen online. My lyrics touch upon how I experience burnout, the textures of my overwhelm and self-doubt, and how the many components of nature provide encounters that enable me to process, reflect, dream, or even pray… And how my mission as an eco-art therapist is not only to assist in promoting mental health but also to help humans reconnect with our mother earth and our non-human relatives, for the survival of us all.
The song is composed of six tracks: Ez on lead vocals, Ez on backup vocals, Ez on lead guitar, Ez on rhythm guitar, Ez on bass, and Ez on drums. I miss being in a band, so I decided to make my own. My one-person band is called Master of None.
My musical intention was to create a multisensory Ezperience. With an optimistic melody and dynamic slow-jam rhythm, I attempted to capture something between somber and succulent. The juicy bass and resonant drums are meant to ground and evoke the feeling of gravity, the connection between your feet and the earth, or maybe even provoke a slow-jam sway or raucous stomp.
The harmonies weave in and out of dissonance and resolution capturing the tensions between the bitter and the sweet, emulating my inner experience of falling out of and coming into balance. This reflective tune carries a heavy-hearted yet hopeful tone with a call to action.