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Artist profile: Halifax's Tess Conley

- Tess Connolly
- Tess Connolly - Contributed

What makes you proud to say you live in Atlantic Canada?

I’m proud of the fact that Atlantic Canadians are known as friendly and polite. I love to come from a place that values kindness. I’m also happy to be from a place that inspires so many types of artists; from writing, to theatre, dance and visual arts… we have so many talented folks on the coast.

What inspires your creative process?

I love to work from personal experience. Whether that's through travel or from an experience that has made an impact on me physically or emotionally. I’m inspired by Nova Scotia: the vastness of the ocean, and the salty air. Atlantic Canada has its own quirkiness and folklore through Celtic and Indigenous roots.

What do you hope your legacy will be?

I hope to bring some colour and uniqueness to a piece. I hope to inspire other folks to create through art, even if they are not as comfortable with it as a medium of expression.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?

I think the best piece of advice I’ve been given is “if you can’t love yourself, how in the h*ll are you gonna love someone else?”. Thanks Ru Paul.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself:

My first job as a teen was a circus instructor! It definitely took people by surprise on my resume.

What is a common misconception about millennials that you disagree with? Why?

I think a common misconception about millennials is that we don’t work hard or that we are entitled. Baby boomers tend to think “if you work hard, it will pay off.” Today, we are realizing that this is not always the case. I think millennials are more aware of the ways that privilege affects society. I’m a white, cisgender woman in Canada which means I have immense privilege. I think as millennials some of us are realizing that it isn’t simply as easy as just working hard and that we need to advocate and give a platform to those that may not have the same privilege.

What does self-care or wellness mean for you?

To me, self-care means taking time to reflect inward on our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. This may mean taking a break, creating art, relaxing or going to therapy. It could mean crying, exercising or expressing anger or grief. These are important aspects of self-care for me. Sometimes people think self-care means always staying positive, but I don’t think this is true. Sometimes negative emotions are normal and healthy and we shouldn't avoid or suppress them.

What’s one thing that scares you?

Speaking out in public and literally raising my voice in front of others. I love to sing but I can’t seem to sing aloud unless I’m in a group or alone. On a more serious note, the complacency of society about the Earth’s environmental state is terrifying.

What’s your favourite way to support local?

I think the best way to support local, especially if you’re of a lower socioeconomic status is to share a local artist or makers work. This could be through social media, which is the most common way now, or through word of mouth. The most obvious answer is by supporting them by buying their product. I think it’s important especially to support local activists in the same way by sharing their stories and to buy from folks who represent marginalized groups.

Will whine about: (what’s an issue you’re rallying behind) 

LGBTQ+ issues, environmental issues, and intersectional feminism.

Will wine about:                (favourite libation)

IPA’s and iced coffee


Follow Tess on Instagram at @tess.ns or @te_ss


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