Leaving Elan is one of the hardest aspects of graduating from high school. The opportunities in leadership, teamwork, and artistic enrichment that have been shown to me while on this staff are immeasurable, and so are the benefits I’ve reaped from taking on my position as Art Editor.
As I spent time on the magazine staff, I continually learned more and more about what it means to be part of a team and adapt to quick changes and roadblocks. The most important task I took on this year was being a part of the group that created the National Poetry Month Reading. We had an amazing opportunity to hold an event at the 5 & Dime Theatre’s new performance space in the heart of downtown; as a result, each one of us treated the curation and realization of the event as if we would never again get a comparable venue. I remember sitting down to make the programs, looking at bland templates on Publisher, and thinking, “Elan deserves better than this. Young artists deserve better than this.” It took me hours to perfect the program – honestly, it was one of my first journeys into creating something like that from scratch – but when it was done, I knew it was something that represented Elan and the artists we give a platform to. This may sound absurd, but those programs were the thing that made me realize what Elan stands for and how much potential we have as a magazine. Seeing the smiling, emotional faces in the audience as sets of teenage writers stepped on stage to spill their hearts made me swell with pride at the fact that I could be a part of something so longstanding and vital. As Mary, one of our editors-in-chief, finished her piece and thanked the audience for coming, I felt a shift not only within the room as the night began to wind down, but a shift within myself; it reminded me of why I write myself. It reminded me of sharing my own struggle, for me, yes, but also for those people who feel they have no voice, or no outlet.
In a world which so often undervalues, or completely ignores the thoughts and feelings of artists – especially those who are young students – Elan provides an outlet unlike any other. Taking submissions from around the world, publishing emotionally nuanced art and writing, and being run by a staff comprised of student artists puts us on a level I feel many other magazines haven’t reached. Seeing how many connections we’ve forged and strengthened this year alone makes me so excited to see where Elan goes from here. I hope that Zac and I as Art Editors have left behind some guidance as to what this magazine stands for through the art we’ve helped select this past year; looking back on previous editions, our published art has expanded and begun to create what I feel is a more free-spirited, nuanced, and emotional aesthetic. This magazine’s art has always been beautiful and meaningful. But what I hope to leave behind is the understanding that Elan is enduring, ever-changing, and increasingly relevant; knowing those things opens connections within not only our community, but ourselves.
-Mackenzie Steele – Co-Art Editor