Vermont Arts Council

I am a Vermont Artist: Deidra Razzaque

Deidra Razzaque knew she was a writer by the time she was four. Her plan, before she could put words to a page, was to “make the world a better place, spend time in every country, make things beautiful, and write about everything [she would do].”

Deidra is based in Brattleboro, creating art and change. In addition to building collages she is an educator and coach, intercultural leader, workshop presenter, entrepreneur, and–yes–still a writer.
Deidra shared her thoughts about being a Vermont artist.
How has living as an artist in Vermont affected your creative process?
There are so many artists, musicians, and writers living in Vermont. Because it’s such a small state, so many of them feel accessible–I often know someone who is friends with, or related to, X artist. So in itself, that is inspiring–just to feel all that art happening around me, all the time. There are a lot of hidden artists here, too. Several times, walking in the woods, I’ve found tiny creations made out of rocks or leaves. Or other things, like intriguing notes in library books. It seems like there is a sense of artistry and magic in daily life here. Maybe because the pace of life is a little slower, people have more time to notice, and to create?

What is something about your art that has changed over time?
I feel like I was born thinking of myself as a writer, but now I feel more drawn to expressing myself visually. Also, I used to think of my work as witnessing my own experiences and the experiences of others. While I still think it does that, and I still think witnessing is important, I aim to make my work move beyond witnessing and act as a catalyst for introspection, connection, action, and healing in others.  
What is your vision for the next several years?
It seems like many people, in this country and around the world, are feeling trampled. Experiences such as open displays of hatred, and apparent lack of concern for the well-being of individuals and the planet, on so many fronts, have been exhausting for many of us. We could ask, why does art even matter, in a time of such strife? I think it matters more than ever. Because the arts enable us to give voice to what sometimes feels unspeakable. And they enable us, on some levels, to cross barriers and boundaries without needing to say a word.
My vision, over the next few years, is to create art that gives people new ways to access their own creativity; that helps them find the courage to say and do difficult, but necessary, things; and that ultimately leads to individual and collective healing. I’m also a workshop leader and life coach. In all of my work, individual and collective creativity and renewal are going to be important areas of focus. And I think that means that joy will also be a focus. Joy in the face of challenge is a radical act of hope. We need to remember the reasons behind the hard work we are doing.
Visit Deidra’s website: At Home in the World.

The “I am a Vermont Artist” series explores how artists’ creative expressions reflect their experiences of ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, or age. Covering all artistic disciplines, and a range of backgrounds—from New Americans to the state’s first residents—we hope to amplify voices that deepen our understanding of what it means to be a Vermont artist.

Visit the series archive.