Lifestyle

How this Petersburg artist is turning trauma into art


PETERSBURG, Va. — Mental health is a focus for many people this year, especially in the wake of the pandemic and a series of nationwide mass shootings.

The heaviness of the world is not lost on Tre Simms. He knows the community is facing devastating headlines every day.

The Petersburg native, who is known for his abstract art paintings, relies even more on his creativity in the context of trauma.

“It helps me deal with everyday stress in a way that now I can express myself because I’m not good with words. But when it comes to making art, I feel free, capable and not. feel restricted,” says Simms.

His lifelong work, Artzbytre, was inspired by the famous abstract artists Pollock and Basquiat and Simms loves to share it with the community.

“What you see in the gallery on my right are Basquiat-inspired pieces, however, it’s my own variation. So when I made my own version, I had to think. thought creatively and used different materials and I used charcoal and acrylic markers,” explains Simms.

With each piece carefully crafted, it is the message behind the artwork that Simms hopes will shine through.

“Art is very healing and can be for everyone. Whether they have mental health problems or not. Art, for tens of thousands of years, it has existed, really. It helps you express yourself. It can tell a story and art can capture history,” says Simms.

The personal artworks in his Angels Collection have helped him cope with emotional loss. His abstract art mask series blends a love of art and drama that he cultivated while attending Petersburg High School.

Simms plans to share it all during his first solo show Friday at a studio in West Old Street, Petersburg. It’s his way of giving back to the place that led him to the passion of his life.

“Friday will be a free event. I will display all of my art. The proceeds will go to the Petersburg high school art program and I will talk about mental health. God and explain how art is healing,” Simms said.

It’s something he hopes can inspire and lead others to their own healing.

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