There are two things that I absolutely believe in and love to support: independent publishing and mental health awareness/care. I am thrilled to introduce Repave Magazine, which not only promotes ways of healing and coping, but does so by connecting it to art. Based in Portland, OR, editor and founder Emmi Greer explains that art has been her greatest healer. Launched during the pandemic in 2020, Repave Magazine embodies this notion of making as a mechanism of care. The first issue includes over 25 artists and strings together “striking visuals, emotive writing, and a lot of brave honesty” including art, essays, poetry, and so much more—all to equipt us with tools for healing and to spark a dialogue on a topic that is too often taboo, but that most of us struggle with: mental health. Repave acts as a vehicle, a conduit for this conversations that so many of us need.
Join me in conversation with founder and artist Emmi Greer as she candidly tells us about the moments in her life that have led up to launching Repave Magazine as well as her own journey towards healing.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey that led up to launching Repave Magazine? What was the impetus behind building a magazine that focuses on mental health and art?
It’s as simple as the fact that art has been my greatest healer. And that I’ve wanted to share and advocate for that possibility beyond myself since discovering it. So, I’ve carried the concept of Repave for years now, and the spark for actualizing it came in the form of receiving a grant from The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) to create the first issue last year. Both RACC and myself are based in Portland, Oregon, a state which has the highest rate of mental illness in the entire country; which is just one of many reasons that maintaining spaces and dialogues around mental wellness feels especially urgent to me. Personally, I always struggled with my well-being and that struggle was heightened by the fact that I didn’t have any way or venue in which to name or describe much of my experience. So, the core intent is to remedy that—to point to art as a site of explication, and therefore witnessing, for the self and others. To be proof of a living community and resist the still-pervasive stigma by honoring our lived experiences and uplifting discourse, artistic and otherwise, around mental health and healing.
Are you an artist yourself? What type of art/aesthetics are you drawn to and/or create yourself?
Yes, but I haven’t always been. Which is why the confluence of art and healing is so meaningful for me. I didn’t have a regular art practice until a mental health crisis put me in the headspace of actively looking for ways to listen, help, and reclaim myself. While I’ve worked in many mediums since, and still try to make time for therapeutic dabbling, my primary output is as a writer. Regardless of the format though, I’m particularly pulled by and called to make weird and experimental art. Because the “art world” can be so exclusive, I feel it’s right to offer a lot of attention to these new and innovative modalities; as marginal identities can often naturally translate to marginal techniques. I think this is imperative to moving art forward and cracking it open as a space for everyone.
I might also describe this ideology as a fascination with the aesthetic of mystery. As a femme, queer, mentally ill person, I’ve often felt misunderstood throughout my life; so having art as a rare space where this type of understanding wasn’t required, or something to mourn or blame myself for, but instead, to accept and celebrate the artistic possibility of that liminal gap—was such a liberation. That’s why I work primarily in poetry, because there’s a built-in appetite for abstraction and questioning in the medium, that in turn, creates infrastructure for the interaction between maker and receiver to occur within. The best poems, and art, for me, act as open texts, in which the interpretation is never closed, isn’t meant or oriented for a single reading, and so the inherent multiplicity or mystery there insists on a collaborative supplication of meaning in each encounter with the work, making each reader or receiver just as vital as the artist. And by invoking that, perhaps showing someone, anyone, that they are empowered to understand the art in their own way, that creative capability is present in all of us and perhaps more readily accessible than they might have, at first, believed.
Who is involved with Repave Magazine? How can others become involved and/or engage with the magazine?
I owe so much to my co-visioners who helped lay the framework for the project and then animate it with me. Rachel Z. Becker and Ryan E. Thiel, who each make their own impactful and very tactile art. I definitely recommend looking into their growing bodies of work. It felt important that all three of us were coming from a place of praxis, that previously to this project, we had all been healed in some way by our own art practices, and also, because we were doing this with an extremely small team and budget, we needed to all be multitaskers and have skills we could lend to multiple aspects of the process.
The thing with print media is that, really, the best way to engage with it is to experience a copy in person. We sell Repave at a sliding scale to allow a bit of flexibility for that. We also set aside a percentage of copies for donation, so if anyone reading this is involved with a mental health and/or arts organization, you can reach out via e-mail or use the form on our website to receive complimentary copies of Repave. Also, a big theme that emerged from all of our contributors in the first issue became reaching back to our former selves, so there is a free, interactive meditation on our website that focuses on attuning with our former and future selves. And I would suggest keeping an eye on our website and Instagram for when art & writing submissions open up again. Though in the meantime, the lines of communication are more than open, if anyone has questions or creative work they would like to share for consideration in future issues, they are always welcome to e-mail me at email@example.com. I will be so happy to hear from you.
What should someone expect to find inside an issue of Repave Magazine?
Well, there is only a single issue out in the wild so far, so I’ll speak to that one with the hope and expectation that the domains and presentations of the project will always be evolving. The first issue of Repave: Art For Healing features over 25 different artists sharing their perspectives across many genres including fiction, essay, and all sorts of visual art. There are also interactive activities like ‘Mindfulness Mad Libs’ and ‘Self-Healing Remedies for Anxiety’ to hopefully invite readers into their own space of active healing. Speaking generally, you should expect to find striking visuals, emotive writing, and a lot of brave honesty.
What is your ultimate goal/dream for Repave Magazine?
Experientially, I do have a dream of an iteration of Repave as a music festival. The namesake of the magazine was inspired by a record that was such a catalyst and companion for my own healing—Repave by the experimental-vocoder-rock band, Volcano Choir. So the festival would be programmed with art and healing workshops, and played by musical artists who are honest about their own mental health on stage, and headlined by Volcano Choir playing Repave in its entirety.
Conceptually, I hope to continue existing in solidarity and publishing historically less-heard voices. To speak in support of the power that art has to soothe, to reveal it as a tether that brings mind and body back from the Cartesian illusion cast on them. Not to sound grandiose, but I just really believe that we need a great deal of healing and that the more widespread a creative practice is across our species, the more likely we’ll be able to bring this about. That experiencing and making art will inherently improve the quality of our collective consciousness. And by quality, I mean expansiveness and connectivity and imagination as necessary skills to envision radically better treatment for our mental health communities and, really, to even survive our earthly ecosystems.
Practically though, the true goal is and will remain: doing our part in bending away the stigma. To stoke the conversation and contribute to a greater visibility around our inner beings and our collective healing. And to offer creativity and artmaking as a tool, as a meaningful and accessible method of healing for all.
Images courtesy of Repave Magazine.