Arts·Heartbreak to Art

Art helped her with depression and anxiety — and then it opened up a whole new career

Painter and musician Nerissa Bradley runs a Toronto "arts and wellness" business, but following an artistic career path wasn't an easy choice.

Nerissa Bradley runs a Toronto 'arts and wellness' business, but following that path wasn't an easy choice

Painter and musician Nerissa Bradley runs a Toronto "arts and wellness" business, but following an artistic career path wasn't an easy choice. She shares her story as part of our series, "Heartbreak to Art." 1:09

In university, Nerissa Bradley was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Painting and music became a form of therapy for the 27-year-old, but as she explains in this video — the latest in our series, "Heartbreak to Art" — reconnecting with her creative side also revealed a brand new career path.

For the last two years, Bradley says she's "embraced her artistry" full time. She regularly performs around Toronto with her jazz band the Nerissa Bradley Group, and she's also the co-founder of Artlet, a business that helps others tap into their talents. Following a creative career path wasn't an easy choice, though. "Deciding to own who I am — that I'm an artist — was scary because it took giving up who I thought I had to be," she tells CBC Arts. While you watch her story, learn a little more about her...

Name: Nerissa Bradley (@nerissakay)

Age: 27

Hometown: Windsor, Ont.

Lives and works: Toronto

Art: Visual art, music, writing, acting..."My focus is bringing out as much of my creativity as possible in the world, and inspiring others to do the same."

Her style: "Emotional, vibrant and resonant."

Her business: Artlet

Bradley co-founded this "arts and wellness movement" with Brandyn James, and together they organize pop-up "art parties" that blend arts and crafts with exercise. (They threw a "yoga and painting" event last month, for example.)

Her advice for anyone afraid to follow their artistic dream: "You know what you are born to do. You were not born to achieve your parents' vision of what your purpose is. You were not born to achieve what society's image of what your success looks like. You were born to do and achieve whatever your unique purpose is. Your job is to do that thing regardless of what anyone else says. You're here to give who you are to the world. The sooner you stop resisting that and accept it as your truth, as who you are, as what you were put on this planet for, the sooner you'll experience happiness and fulfillment beyond your wildest dreams."

The Canadian artist she most admires: Alessia Cara

"She really is staying true to who she is and is uncompromising around that. She's also very committed to making great music that transcends the times. That level of dedication and being grounded inspires me as an artist and who I want to be in the industry and offer to the world musically."

What's next? Watch for her first EP in 2018, and she'll have a new music video available soon. "I'm working on releasing my original song 'Just A Game' with a live video."

Heartbreak to Art is a CBC Arts web series about the transformative power of creativity. In each episode, a different Canadian artist shares a disarmingly personal story. These dancers, musicians, painters and poets have all lived through deeply emotional challenges, and they reveal how art saw them through. A collection of impressionistic portraits, the series' director, Karena Evans, puts it this way: these films are "about what every real story is truly about — how the human heart changes."


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