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Erika NJ Allen is a Guatemalan born multi-media artist with a BFA in photography from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, currently seeking an MFA in ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Allen works with photography, ceramics, and installation as a way to examine lived experiences of various kinds of emotional and physical pain. During her BA career, for instance, she explored photography and ceramics as a way to process the effects of a then recent hysterectomy. Each work of art visualizes Allen’s diet which plays a key role in her healing, both mentally and physically, while attempting to convey a feeling of resilience. She continues to make objects during her MFA candidacy in ways influenced by the relationships between trauma and diet. Calling on a variety of materials, Allen’s ceramics work often offers up still lives of fruit fashioned from both clay and organic components of actual fruit. Through her experimentation with organic materials, she has developed her own organic glaze from the produce she digests, exploring curious avenues into processing whereby the processes of making themselves have become therapeutic practices. Allowing for vulnerabilities to become known and easy to share with the goal to encourage others to open to their own challenges and explore their own forms of resilience, Allen has found her voice as artist. Most recently, Allen has become interested in ways in which to normalize conversations about depression and suicide which can be part of the aftermath of major surgeries, global disasters, and social injustice amongst others. By using her voice as an artist and survivor her goal is to extend an invitation to whoever is interested in sharing their experiences, or to those who simply want to listen and learn.