Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexandra Mazzola.
Hi Alexandra, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I am a 27-year-old living through life as an Autistic creative artist, expressing my emotions and unique views of the world through my art and through my eyes. Along with that, I have a strong desire and passion to be a positive advocate, influence, role model, and inspiration to many others that may be struggling with chronic and invisible illness/disabilities, their mental health, feeling lost, and having difficulties in finding who they are or what their true purpose in life is. Personally, I have been through a significant amount of suffering in my past from traumas, however, I know now that it has shaped me into who I am today and without those experiences, I would not have that same strong desire and passion to impact the lives of many individuals in a positive and inspirational way.
Due to how long of a journey it has been for me with struggling with my own mental health and having spent so much time not being who I am and constantly trying to be someone I am not, I feel like I can take my past experiences and spread hope, along with being a light in the world where there is so much darkness. I hope my story inspires others, especially the youth that may feel the same darkness I have in the past and puts the light back into their eyes.
I have developed my skill through self-teaching techniques and experimentation with some guidance through art courses in Highschool and Community College. I find myself often scrolling through my Instagram feed being endlessly inspired by other talented artists, watching their own techniques and process tutorials. I also spend some time doing research on how I can continue to improve my skills, along with practicing as much as I can on my own without any guidance, to continuously further develop my ability and techniques.
To this day, I have learned to use art as a way of my own personal healing and growth. I feel peaceful and “at home” when I create art.
Creating allows me to inspire others;
When I am creating, my aim is to communicate strength, hope, happiness, and joy through my artwork, along with bringing a feeling of calmness, peace, and connection. I wish for my artwork and myself as an artist to forever inspire and motivate others to always focus on their dreams, and never give up.
I want my artwork to be similar to someone’s “vision board” so that when they look at it, they feel inspired or motivated. Along with this, I wish for my artwork to brighten everyone’s living spaces.
As a disabled artist myself, I will consistently strive to be a positive influence and a great example for others who wish to become a professional artist someday, showing them that no one is defined by their disabilities or their current life status or their past.
I am always looking for ways to make others happy, and through expressively sharing my artistic, creative side to the world, I believe I can accomplish this goal. I know that when I create for other people, along with staying true to myself and my goals, my purpose in life of bringing true happiness to others is being fulfilled.
Overall, even though my personal journey has been a difficult one struggling with mental health along with chronic and invisible illnesses; I truly feel that I finally found who I am through art.
After years of changing my identity to fit into a society that constantly tries to judge you or tear you down, I am here, I am a survivor, I am resilient and stronger than ever, and I am aiming towards a brighter future.
My biggest hope in life now is to become a Licensed Art Therapist, working with children and adults that have a wide range of different disabilities, including disabilities that I am currently managing, or have learned to overcome. I want to help those individuals become more resilient as they flourish through their challenges by expressing their emotions through the whole creative processes of making art, and in return, I will know that I truly have made a difference in this world.
I currently reside in Orlando, Florida, where I have my own studio space in the new Culture & Arts building in Avalon Park that had its grand opening on April 9th! There, I am showcasing and selling my artwork, and hopefully soon, I will be offering services in their workshop rooms through my own small art business called AMazzola Heartsome Creations. Those services include: leading my own group or individual art lessons for all ages, paint parties, and my favorite, guided therapeutic Healing & Expressive Arts groups for youth and individuals who may just need to work on and release some emotions and tension in a healthy, peaceful, and creative way. You can find more information about this new Arts & Culture Center on their website: https://www.avalonartscenter.com
I am very excited for what my future will hold, who I may meet and inspire along the way, and how much my small art business will grow. I have high hopes that someday, my voice and my story will be heard in the perfect moment by those that need to hear it the most, and motivate them to start the journey to being the best version of themselves, and finding who they were truly meant to be.
What were you like growing up?
Over the course of my younger years, I had difficulties in communication and other peers misunderstood me, along with having struggles connecting with others or maintaining friendships due to being a young Autistic at the time. It was hard for me; not knowing why I was this way, as I was not diagnosed at that time. However, being Autistic allowed me to always be willing to explore and seek new hobbies and I had many special interests. Any “special interest” developed that came along with being Autistic had made me fixated on it and all of my time and focus
was dedicated to it such as; my love for animals, dogs, stuffed animals, drawing, and whatever hobby I explored at that time. I used to want to be a vet when I grew up, and that dream career had changed multiple times as I got older and older.
Although I have always been creative and started drawing, sketching, and painting since I could grasp a pencil, crayon, or even a paintbrush, I didn’t realize back then that my love for creating and art was a hidden talent that would end up sparking the start of discovering who I truly am or what my purpose in life was meant to be.
My artistic journey started originally with a huge love of sketching and drawing dogs from the old local library “How-To” books, tracing other animals, drawing freely, which then eventually moved onto me using colored pencils to draw sunsets, beaches, lighthouses, and roses.
This sparked my love for exploring different themes and ideas to create. I used to draw roses on my arm or other peers’ arms and wrists during some classes with a pen. I also drew a lot of roses on whiteboards in school, or sketched in my notebook and school papers while in class. Drawing during lectures allowed me to focus easier on who was speaking, and helped me manage my ADHD. If there was a good high-quality pen or sharp graphite pencil in my hand, I would be happy. It allowed my mind to escape and visually enter into a different world, where I was filled with endless creative ideas.
Even though I had a talent in art all along, I never thought to pursue it at that time. Instead, I tried almost every hobby, sport, and extracurricular activities out there like my peers but was never any good. I explored dance, gymnastics, soccer, and cheerleading, and when I did not make it onto a team after trying out, I would quit. I had started to realize that each time I didn’t make a certain team, advance up, and that I was not the best at those particular hobbies and extracurricular activities like my peers were advanced in, I continued to seek other ways I could keep busy, make new friends, or develop and strengthen my confidence. That is when I decided sports were just not for me.
In elementary and middle school, I significantly kept changing who I was along with my physical appearance so I could fit in or be considered popular like other girls in my grade. This is when I wanted to explore modeling and learning how to apply make-up to feel more beautiful, leading me to enroll into a Modeling and Acting school.
Unfortunately, I was being severely made fun of often, even after enrolling into this modeling school. The bullying never stopped.
In Highschool, my mental health had declined and I had found it very hard to remain hopeful for a bright future. This is when some of my chronic illnesses began, leaving me to be in both physical and mental pain frequently. Highschool years were probably the hardest, having come to terms that mental illness was a real thing no one thought much of. This is around the time I received some of my psychiatric medical diagnoses and when I had to develop a new awareness of the diagnoses of PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders.
The reason for me sharing my diagnoses and personal story in my own mental health journey is to hopefully help educate and reduce the stigma that surrounds the topic. Mental health is just as important as physical health and it needs to not be something to be ashamed of.
As I sit here and reflect on my past, I realize that even though I gave up on a lot of hobbies and sports that I never excelled at, all of those experiences had led to positives and seeing the light within the darkness. I was able to explore other interests that had become lifelong passions. I was enrolled in our school’s chorus throughout elementary, middle, and Highschool as a “soprano” and loved to sing. My singing was also somewhat of a “comfort” to me growing up like drawing was.
I made sure to never lose the passion to sing, including Karaoke! I received a lot of different opportunities from my singing voice and some acting skills, such as being able to sing at a few of our Highschool’s Coffee Houses, scoring the role as Zaneta in the play “The Music Man”, being part of a few bands for a short time, all up to most recently, having some “fans” from all over the world in a Facebook Group called “Quarantine Karaoke”, that was created once the Coronavirus pandemic hit.
Even though I still had my letdowns, disappointments, failures, and struggled with my confidence, I never gave up on the artistic and creative side of me. I realized over time that this was shown through my love for art, singing, modeling and some acting in high school.
I finally started to feel a sense of belonging, as I met a lot of new kind hearted people along the way that were also into the arts and had similar likes that I had.
My personality was very bubbly despite all of what I had been through, and I never lost sight of my unique ability to connect with anyone I encountered, disregarding any difficulties in communication or anxiety I had. My heart remains big, and I always flash a smile to everyone in passing, no matter who they are. I am who I am because I choose to be a light and continue to inspire and motivate others to be the same, so this world will be a better place to live in.
Now, when did I begin to realize I had an actual talent in Art?
After all those prior years of struggling to find who I am, receiving new diagnoses, and wondering how I will be able to manage them in a healthy way, I had remembered one day how much comfort creating art had brought me when
I was younger. I wondered why I ever let that side of me go, so I decided to start drawing and painting again. I began to truly engage and explore my interest in the arts, often escaping to the Highschool art rooms whenever I had the chance, away from the peers in my grade that weren’t so nice to me. I spent the majority of my time in the art wing, exploring this newfound talent and special interest. I admired all the art assignments we had in these Highschool art classes, and it really started to feed into my passion by giving me the ability to release any stress and tension built up. This was the “building bridge” to my desire for learning more ways to improve my skills.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has definitely never been a smooth road with me, but who out here in life has absolutely no difficult or hard times? Obstacles and challenges never stop coming, but that is all a part of our growth and without them, we would not be
who we are today.
I have faced more struggles in my childhood and adult years that would often shock others if they only knew that I have gone through so many of these health scares this young in life. I have had to learn how to accept the long list of newly diagnosed medical disabilities and know that they won’t just “get better” or easier over time. The most difficult medical scare, however, was when I went through heart failure back in December of 2020 and what used to be my favorite holiday season had ended up being spent in the ICU making me miss out on the joy that the Christmas holiday and season usually brings me. Being at my absolute weakest, the medical trauma had taken a significant toll on my mental health as well. This probably contributed to the most recent “creative artist block” I had developed, leaving me to be very hard on myself and not allow time to sit down and create like I had used to.
Along with this, I would probably say that one of the hardest roadblocks in my life journey lately is the long struggle of spending all my days and time finding a job that I am extremely passionate about where I would be making a positive difference in lives every day. I have applied and interviewed with many companies all around and near Orlando, Florida, as it relates to the Arts, Psychology, youth mentoring, etc., and I probably became a pro at this point at interviews!
Unfortunately, it has been challenging to find these kinds of positions due to always needing to be accompanied by my fully trained Medical Alert and Response Service Dog.
However, the most important thought I am trying to keep in mind is that I know everything happens for a reason, my place in life IS coming, and I may have not been meant to stay in one place. With each of the positions I have held, I was given the chance that not many people get to say they have had: to impact so many different lives in various places, when they may have needed to connect with someone like me the most.
For my own personal small art business, I have faced “creative artist blocks”, where the motivation was lacking for some time to just start a painting. It has been challenging to dedicate time to building my new website and business
cards, along with a logo to make it more professional and truly flourish. Building a successful business takes time and a lot of effort, and I am beginning to realize this and become more patient with myself, knowing that it will all be worth it in the end.
But- I finally recently got out of that “creative artist block” and am exploring different styles, mediums, and creating many unique artworks than what I am used to.
Even though from time to time I struggle and get filled with negative thoughts, I almost always learn from each letdown, setback or dark moments in time, becoming more and more resilient.
All of those hard times and obstacles are always building you into a stronger version of yourself and without those dark times, the light and joyful times wouldn’t seem or feel as great. There is always light within the darkness.
Even if you are like me where you have gone through multiple setbacks or let downs after another for so long, you just have to hold onto hope, believe that everything will fall in its place eventually, and trust that you WILL be where you are truly meant to be in life. We are all just “artworks” in progress, and always learning and progressing, becoming stronger each day.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a commission artist that specializes in painting and drawing different styles such as realism, abstract, and some impressionism and expressionism, by using a wide variety of high-quality acrylic paints and artist grade pastel pencils. I am mostly known for painting or drawing realistic portraits of peoples’ beloved pets and family members, by capturing their true essence and personality. Each portrait is hand-drawn, and is truly a timeless memory that will last a lifetime. However, what makes me unique and sets me apart from other artists is that I very rarely turn any challenging commissions down, and will almost always accept commissions of any painting style or idea, such as landscapes, seascapes, sunrises/sunsets, ultrasound paintings, galaxies, florals, wildlife, animals, family homes, and most recently, a 40″x60″ painting of an apartment view of New York City at night!
I strive to continuously learn and improve my skills and talent, so I can always ensure all customer satisfaction.
I am probably most proud of being able to say I finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology online in only one year from Capella University back in 2019, and was accepted and now enrolled into a program to obtain my Master of Arts in Art Therapy with an Emphasis in Counseling, which is my true dream career goal in life.
Even though there was all this past struggle and challenges, there were always some positives within all that darkness. In life, no matter who or where you are, there ALWAYS is light found within the darkness.
*All Prices Are Negotiable*
- Custom Hand-Drawn or Hand-Painted Pet Portraits: Anywhere from
- Painted Wooden Pet Portrait Ornaments/Plaques: $65-up
- Custom Acrylic Paintings from any Envisioned Idea: $15-up
- Group or Individual Art Lessons, Healing Expressive Arts groups, or Paint Parties for Any Age: $20-$25/hr.