As artists, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of our own art form, and forget to look at the other ways people can express themselves. An aspiring actor might go to plays, but never visit any art museums. A filmmaker could attend dozens of movie premiers but never pick up a novel. Sometimes, the best cure for stasis in our own art form isn’t to continue to immerse ourselves in it. The best cure can be to remove ourselves completely, and experience artwork that’s completely different.
While we were compiling the fall edition, I got a chance to see some really beautiful artwork. I was amazed at the talent displayed by these teenage artists, some of whom were even my peers. I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about visual art, but in some ways, that makes my reactions even more pure. I have no knowledge about art composition, or any of the technical terms associated with the craft. When I respond to art, it’s purely based on what it makes me feel.
Several pieces stood out to me, but one that really resonated with me was Comfort of the Holy Mother, by Victoria Sherwood. Everything about this piece just drew me to it: the vibrant colors, the clear focus, even the details of the background.
In my writing, I’m often guilty of being too concrete. I can bog myself down with meaningless details and pointless asides. I’ll spend paragraphs describing something that ends up not being important to the plot. It’s hard for me to let go of reality and move into the abstract, and this is something I envy about a lot of art that I love.
Comfort of the Holy Mother portrays a girl, surrounded by a green aura, floating in the night sky. No other context is provided. Even my interpretation could be incorrect—maybe she’s not in the sky. Maybe she’s in the ocean. The title of the piece gives a little background information, but not much. It’s enough to pique your interest, but it doesn’t reveal too much.
And in a way, that’s the point. There doesn’t have to be an explicit intent. Everything doesn’t have to be explained. Art has value simply because it is art and it is beautiful. That applies to visual art, yes, but it also applies to other forms, including writing. Sometimes as writers we think that we have to express our ideas in ways that other people can easily understand, but that’s not true. There’s something appealing about complexity, about a little bit of mystery.
In Elan, we have a variety of work, from a very diverse group of students. The topics covered in our magazine span from difficult familial relationships to the struggles of growing up, and each piece explores life a little bit differently. We are all a little removed from reality, floating through space on our own journeys.
–Meredith Abdelnour, Junior Layout-and-Design Editor