Proud Stories: Emma Ayres (They/Them)
Q: What kind of performance artist are you?
Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be a full-time artist?
I was on a bus ride to visit a dear friend in Guelph. I ended up being the only one on the bus for the 4-hour journey across the flats of Ontario. I happened to have my guitar with me. The bus driver and I exchanged songs, stories, philosophical musings, political treatises, and poetic snapshots of all the times we fell in love and the who, what, when, and where of it all. I will never forget the feeling of singing over the resonant whirr of the engine as the corn fields flashed past like a spool of film and thinking to myself: this is what being an artist means to me. This is what I want. There's this acute sense of romance that arises when you can make your art in collaboration with the unexpected. Being an artist was an act of connection across differences. Being an artist is actively seeking a life where the world surprises you every day and you are willing to walk away full of wonder. Being an artist for me is being suspended between a state of love and disbelief for humankind. Somewhere within that tension grows the song.
Q: How are you keeping yourself inspired to create during this unprecedented time?
As much as I aspire to challenge the societal construct that all good art is born of some kind of suffering, there is some truth to that. My art has always been the only thing that uplifts, functions as a cryptographer of existentialism, anger, and other big
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an artist and how did you overcome it?
Remembering that in a scarcity complex driven arts world, not everyone comes from a place of love, authenticity, and transparency... that paradigm can be flipped in the microcosm of your own sphere of influence and you can lead with generosity, compassion, upfront communication, unabashed vision, and ferocious sense of love for the process, your collaborators, audience, and the art you're making. We don't need to conform to the poison bred by the industry. We can build our own concept of industry and leave the other one behind.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
I am really proud of the work I have done at the intersection of arts and education. When the pandemic hit I pivoted from being a touring artist to a full-time middle school and high school theater teacher. I co-created a class where a diverse group of student artists were engaged in writing, scoring, recording, and performing their own original musical that centered narratives of queer joy. Facilitating a space where young creatives could access an empowered sense of voice, reminded me of why I make art to begin with. I believe in wonder and that through wonder we can envision a better world together. In making art, we remember our transformative capacity to be world builders and that we can enact the world we dream of. I will never forget the moment the kids saw each other for the first time after months of quarantine. The love that buzzed through the entirety of that project was palpable and very much what I look for and strive to generate in all creative endeavors. It was as if the entire universe was smiling down on us saying: you are enough. I hold a special place in my heart for those young people...they give me hope.
Q: Is there anything you are working on now that can be shared and supported?
I will be releasing a full-length album on Saturday, June 18th titled 'Hard Work.' Music can be found at: Emma Ayres Bandcamp