Kezliegh is a contemporary abstract artist that prints on large acrylic sheets.
She was born in Muskoka, ON in 1993 under the name of Amy Merritt. She struggled in a low-income family, experienced hardships in her young adult life, and always found solace in her creativity.
Kezliegh attended the first Integrated Design course in 2017 at the Haliburton School of Art + Design.
She is predominantly inspired by the world around her, often taking photographs of tree bark or river rocks, weathered paint or burnt pieces of wood.
Her style is exploratory. She is always finding herself in colours, textures, layers and abstract shapes.
Kezliegh is currently working hard at becoming a noteworthy artist in her small Muskoka studio.
She is constantly trying to find connection, meaning and peace in this world.
What is one thing you’d like our readers to know about you?
I’ll be in two international contemporary art fairs in the Spring of 2022: Galeria Azur and the Monat Gallery in Madrid, Spain are representing me at these fairs. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and visit my website for more information!
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
I wish I could say something positive here, but in my experience, good art has never come from a comfortable existence. I also believe that good art takes a lot of courage and strength.
Here is my courage: homelife was toxic and negative. My father was an emotionally abusive alcoholic and my mother believed that a catastrophic disaster was imminent. I lived mainly with my mother and so I was depressed and overwhelmed with anxious thoughts of different variations of the end of the world.
I ran halfway across the country (Canada) and away from that when I was sixteen. Lured into the arms of a much older man that I met online. He ended up keeping me in his bedroom, continuously raping me for months. He took my money and had control over my communication with friends and home. I developed an emotional response called Stockholm Syndrome with my abuser.
One night, something in me said “enough” and I got up, packed everything I could in the dark, and walked until dawn to get to the bus station. My sister wire transferred me some money that morning, and I spent three days on a bus back home.
I really believe that is when Kezliegh (my alter ego) showed up in full force. She was the one that pulled me out of there. She kept me safe. I ended up folding that experience up in a neat package and storing it away at the back of my brain. I continued on, hoping it would all be forgotten.
Here’s my strength: I opened that package up a few years ago with the help of therapy. I’ve learned that trauma isn’t forgotten. It finds its way out in different ways. In anxiety and panic disorders, depression, and suicidal ideation. In feelings of loneliness and worthlessness. This is the first time I’ve told a public audience and this will be the first time my family and friends hear about my story. I’m terrified, but I am standing strong in my commitment to being authentic and truthful to myself and to you.
It’s an interesting choice to have traumatic experiences as the source of inspiration, but it’s not an unusual one. As an artist, my voice is my art. The images I create are connected to my past experiences. My work is my way of processing visually. It’s very personal. My personal life and how I perceive life is my inspiration. My hope is that I inspire others to share their stories, no matter how uncomfortable and difficult that journey is.
Why do you create and how has your art practice affected your life?
Because of my past experiences, I felt as though I had no clear path in life. I felt like there was no point. When I finished high school, I was semi-homeless for a bit. Then I went to college and finished two degrees. I worked in a variety of lackluster jobs. I was like a little leaf being blown by the wind. I’d stay at one job or school, and the wind would pick up and blow me to a different part of my life.
At one point, I ended up staying at a housekeeping/management job for five whole years. I was comfortable, though my insides were dark. Then in 2019, a pandemic hit, the world paused and I lost that comfortable job. I was unemployed for a long time. I’ve had a natural tendency for visuals my whole life. And when life got tough, I lost myself in creating art. During my unemployment, I realized that I hated that job. I hated every job and school I went to. I hated what my life was and what happened. So, I powerfully vowed to myself that I would do what I loved from then onward. And here I am, doing what I absolutely love. I create because I need to. Art hasn’t just affected my life, it saved my life.