About My Work
I am a storyteller at heart, but I truly love artistic expression in all its forms and am constantly challenging myself in different areas.
Primarily, I'm a writer and poet. My poetry is being published in an anthology, has been performed by high school students, and read over radio stations. I'm a fairly successful blogger (who went viral a couple of years ago) at my website www.terynobrien.com, where I write very honestly about healing & creativity, and I write novels as well.
I'm the managing editor of Colorado Collective, which is a newly launched print magazine in the Springs (www.colorado-collective.com). This magazine's goal is to highlight creatives, makers, and small businesses in the Southern Colorado area.
In my spare time, I am a freelance writer, editor, and photographer, and I also paint and draw.
If I’m honest, pain has been the biggest thing to shape my own creativity. If not for pain, I wouldn’t be as creative as I am, because I wouldn’t have needed to express myself through art. My artistic journey has happened because it was the only way I could process things in my life: depression, heartbreak, grief over losing one of my best friends in a cult-like environment (she committed suicide and was in an abusive relationship), doubt, attraction to abuse (spiritual and emotional), unhealthy relationships, crippling fear and anxiety, trying to accept love into my life…Wrestling through it all with God by my side no matter what.
My art is me wrestling with God. And my heart has been the way I’ve healed. As I read my poems, my blog, my memoir, and even my fiction, I see a great pattern in it of incredible darkness being somehow, slowly, irrevocably redeemed into something beautiful beyond words. I believe in redemption, and I believe that creativity tells the story of redemption in ways that aren’t quite possible any other way. Out of chaos comes order, out of the messiness comes something profound and moving. God is a God of creation, and I believe when we create and redeem our own inner pain and emotional baggage into something that ultimately heals and moves others to feel less alone, we are being healed. That is why I create: I help other feel less alone, to give them courage to heal, and to fight for all that is Beautiful in a world gone mad.
About My Faith
I was raised in a good, perfect Christian home…only later to realize there were some issues. I did the typical Christian kid thing until I began questioning the existence of God at age 11-14. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I truly found Jesus and put my entire being into following Him, but my faith process has developed throughout the years. I went to Bible school, and then I moved here to Colorado.
It was here in 2012 that I found out the news that my one of my best friends (who was pivotal in leading me to true faith in Christ at 16) had committed suicide inside a Christian community that had turned into a cult. Her husband was the abusive leader and had effectively and systematically destroyed her through spiritual and emotional abuse. This tragedy got national coverage and there is even a 48 Hours story that was done on her.
This event shattered me in ways I never thought possible. I clung to God, even Jesus, through it all, but I have had to radically rethink the way I interact with Christians/Christianity/and the typical church environment in America (which is rampant with abusive tendencies). I suffered from a lot of PTSD and had to step away from church for a while (not God, not Jesus, not even good Christian friends in my life, but church).
If I’m honest, I’m still recovering. I see a lot of good, but a lot of bad in American Christianity, and it breaks my heart. A lot of my artistic expression has been wrestling with these issues. I have hope and I’m moving forward (I attend a church weekly now), but I still have constant reminders that religious people aren’t all they seem (no more blind trust), and it can be so hard to follow Jesus despite the trappings of legalism and oppression that happen so often in places that aren’t truly led by God’s Spirit. I have a fire in my soul, a passion that won’t be quenched to speak out and to harvest more love inside the church now. I know God loves His broken, fallen Body, and I want to, too.
The biggest problem facing Christian artists today?
To put it bluntly: Christian art is in general not great. Why? Because art isn’t about propaganda or control. True art is always wrestling, always pushing boundaries, always speaking out against injustice, always being honest about things no one else will be honest about. True art is to face reality and to never back down, even when systems or people try to suppress the truth for watered-down, safe control.
True artists can’t be controlled. We break stereotypes, we question things, and we are supposed to. Art is supposed to shatter people’s perceptions, to move them in the most profound of places. It is supposed to be real, authentic, honest about all the darkness and pain of life so that later on we can point to the beauty and redemption that is the Christian story.
Most Christian art is like a mask of smiley plastered on one’s face, denying the true, deep inner fight most people in our generation face each day. Because life is hard, and if we don’t acknowledge it and let people be broken, be honest, mourn, express, grieve…how will we ever expect to heal?
I believe Christianity is about healing the deepest parts of who we are, and God wants wholeness and beauty in our lives. But getting there means facing the nitty-gritty of all the depravity that can the human condition. Art should reflect this journey, the journey of the soul from intense darkness into light. The journey of honesty. I do not believe the church is very honest about things most of the time. Or they want to tone it down or make it seem less hard than it is. They don’t want authenticity, they just want to have easy answers, because life is just too overwhelming.