A Flashback to ‘Voices Unearthed’

It is January of 2018: a new year, but the same eager confusion wrestles within me. I am good at writing, yes. I am good at that. Is there anything else? I am good at knowing good art. At picking it out of tons of other submissions. I know the brand of Elan. I have a lot of ideas. I am ready to step foot back into that classroom and make every one of those ideas come true. I have yet to figure out how to become connected to the community, but I will figure it out. This is the mindset I had when I returned to school last winter. However, when I did step foot in that classroom, the way in which I moved through life would be changed forever.

When staff advisor, Tiffany Melanson, sat me down alongside three other staff members offering us the opportunity to curate an art gallery at our local Yellow House museum, there was something inside of me that buzzed and sang. We would spend the next few months leading up to the day preparing for what felt like an endless journey, but I do remember some of those moments so vividly.

Hunched over old editions of Elan, our backs in the shapes of a ‘U’ decisively choosing a quote from each edition. In that, reconnecting with the ghost of our editorial past. Weaving ourselves into the history of Elan, its evolution that went beyond our four minds, those four walls, or the gates of Douglas Anderson.

The numerous days when we didn’t think we would have enough art to fill a gallery. And then, it appeared as if from a stork: our baby had arrived, framed and matted, and she was beautiful.

When the day came, I remember the crunch of the gravel under my yellow heels. As I walked up the creaking stairs, my stomach felt like it had fallen out from beneath me. Through the door of this small, yellow house was my blood, sweat, and tears over the past months. This would be the peak: everything lied in this house. Walking through each room and hallway, the walls were lined with visual art and poems I’d come to know and love. The book had come to life. It was there, breathing and moving through the space like blood through the human body. We had made Elan a body: Yellow House the skeleton from which it hung, the art and writing the flesh and blood, and the history of Elan and the staff, its beating heart. It was something to be touched, felt. Something that no longer lived on book shelf.

 As people flooded into this body, I was stunned at their response. Everybody moved through the space pulsing with questions and in awe of the way the words from the pop-up readings attached themselves to the walls of every mind that would hear them.

That night, Elan earned something every artist hopes to earn: the captive attention of its audience. The ability to say why it is and what it loves. Since that day, I have been fighting for that, not only as the Marketing Editor, but as an artist myself.

Lex Hamilton, Senior Marketing Editor