Alexis Marie Chute (’07 BFA) is a dynamic powerhouse, bursting with endless energy and chock-full of creative ideas.
A successful artist, writer and photographer, Alexis has won more than 30 awards for her artistic and literary work and, following a traumatic personal loss, has become a valued advocate for bereaved parents.
So, it’s difficult to imagine this multi-talented, Avenue Magazine “Top 40 Under 40”- designated woman as a quiet, disorganized student, searching for purpose.
But once upon a time, Alexis was just that.
“I didn’t have my creative voice figured out when I was at the U of A. I didn’t have anything figured out then,” she laughs, recalling poorly-chosen electives and panic-filled exam mornings. “I didn’t figure out my direction and who I am as an artist until long after my degree.”
A self-diagnosed over-achiever, Alexis began her habit of collecting hobbies and professions while she was still in university.
“I took everything I could to a senior level; I like to think my undergrad education is what taught me to be limitless,” she explains. “I’m an artist, and that translates into infinite possibilities for how I can use my art.”
Her compulsion to create turned out to be a godsend for Alexis, when she lost her second baby Zachary in 2010 to a rare disease.
She found comfort in art, and began to heal through a project she calls The Quiet Re-Build – a collection of paintings, photographs and wood sculptures.
“Art was a cathartic release for me, both physically and emotionally,” she explains, adding she decided to channel her pain into a passion for helping other bereaved parents. “It really helped to combat the loneliness and isolation that comes after the death of a child.”
Alexis created the website Wanted, Chosen, Planned where she connects parents who have lost a child, and posts ideas for healing art and writing projects.
In the last year, her advocacy work and promotion of the arts in Edmonton earned her the John Poole Mayor’s Arts Award and a YWCA Women of Distinction award.
Now, the former Harcourt House Artist-in-Residence is poised to publish two novels – her memoir Expecting Sunshine chronicles her experience with Zachary – and a companion photographic collection titled Unfulfilled Precognition.
“Art was a cathartic release for me, both physically and emotionally. It really helped to combat the loneliness and isolation that comes after the death of a child.”
“It’s something that’s hard to share, but I really do feel like it can bring awareness to the subject of child loss,” she says.
By all accounts, Alexis’ plate is full. In addition to finishing up her Masters in Fine Arts from Lesley University, MA, this Jane-of-all-trades also curates the InFocus Exhibit for the Exposure Photography Festival. But true to form, she’s added another project to the mix – a documentary on child loss called Brave New Normal.
“It can be a challenging schedule at times,” says the mom of two and soon-to-be MFA graduate. “But I just keep asking what’s next? And there’s always an answer in front of me.”
To read more about Alexis’ baby loss experience and advocacy, read our Mother’s Day article for bereaved moms on Curious Arts blog.
To see some of Alexis’ artwork and photography, visit Alexis’ website.
More about Alexis’ documentary, Brave New Normal: