We had the good fortune of connecting with Elie Kennedy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elie, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I started my artistic journey through the most traumatic event of my life. I had lost my son, Anthony to suicide on July 13, 2015 he was 29. I’ve never experienced a loss from suicide in my life. While trying to process the fresh emotions going on through my heart, mind and soul. My husband and I went to our favorite family beach spot. I brought some nail polish to maybe do something normal for myself and paint my nails on the beach. I found myself painting rocks and creating a huge memorial with the rocks for my son. We came back weeks later, and my husband said there’s one of your rocks. I exclaimed, “No way! They got washed away.” I looked down and sure enough there was the one of many rocks still there. It was the one that said ANT with the red heart on it. I stared at it, it was a sign. A sign, a message to start painting rocks. To spread awareness and to bring hope to those thinking about suicide.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I don’t have any art school background to go back on. It just came from within when I lost my son to suicide. It was either sink or swim, I had to do something with the emotional dark energy that was inside me. It’s still energy after all, so I decided to use it in a positive way. I’m a bit of an experimental artist. I like to try different types of art techniques, that include acrylic paints, drawing, resin, wood, jewelry, etc. I was driven to spread suicide awareness and hope to those of us that need it. And I think there’s a lot of out there that need it more now than ever. I’ve learned that life is too short. It can change at a moments notice. Don’t worry about what others are doing or that their art is spectacular. We all have a starting point and we will continue to grow. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make those connections with like minded individuals. Put trust in yourself as you are the only one that can make things happen.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My example itinerary would look something like this.
Mon – SD Zoo and Balboa Park
Tues – Visit the museums in Balboa Park, visiting friends studios in the Spanish Village, walking to Extraordinary Desserts for amazing coffee and desserts
Wed – Torrey Pines Gliderport to get an eagles eye view of all the beauty surrounding us
Thurs – Stopping my favorite place in Carlsbad, Cafe Topes for their amazing lavender latte and breakfast. Then, to my favorite beach spot in Carlsbad for a walk.
Fri – Barrio Logan visiting small businesses to shop. Stopping in to Salud for my favorite Chile Tamaraind Ice Cream with Churros and of course tacos. Making a stop at the San Diego Made Factory to visit and shop with former studio mates and friends.
Sat – Stroll along Little Italy’s Farmer Market eating and shopping. Then a visit to the Fire House Museum.
Sun – Taking the last day to unwind by getting a massage from my favorite, Vanessa Trujillo of Tru Body Work
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to first thank the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention San Diego Chapter for embracing me with love and support. I was mindlessly searching for help guidance online as this was beyond anything I could comprehend. I didn’t know where to go or who to talk to. Their annual Out of Darkness Walk was in October. So I decided I was going, to honor my sons memory. (My son loved his many cuts of Mohawks. So I created a feather faux hawk I wore in his memory.) My hope was to be with others that understood, that were supportive and caring. It has been one of the most meaningful directions my life had taken. I believe my loss has given me more sensitivity, compassion and empathy it takes to understand the depth of the pain in others. I think losing someone to suicide brings a certain humility and vulnerability which teaches us to live gently with our family and communities. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities to love one another. I will forever be grateful to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for helping me to find those possibilities. I have learned that the road to healing is not easy, but few worthwhile things in our lives are easy. I do my best to be remind myself and others, to be kind to yourself, be gentle, we will get through whatever it is we are dealing with. I have volunteered many hours at multiple events. While also creating painted rocks and various multi media pieces of art work. Most of the proceeds go to AFSP TEAM ANTHONY to help save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. Funds going to programs in schools, communities and facilitating a suicide bereavement group and so much more. To learn more, go to www.afsp.org I’d like to thank my husband, Robert. For standing by me through every dip, dive and bend on this rollercoaster. I couldn’t do this without him or my daughter. I’d also like to recognize my Art Family, who embraced me with love, support and compassion. Through my art, I’m able to visually talk about my traumatic experience and connect with others. I want to thank all my fellow artists, curators, small businesses and all the opportunities that have come my way. I’m so thankful I have a voice that is now stronger because of the love, support and strength in numbers.