A Sanctuary for Growth

Most recently I was commissioned to create work that surrounded an exhibition presented at the Cummer Museum here in Jacksonville, as a part of the closing ceremony for the exhibit. I believe that Elan gave me the confidence and the courage to take advantage of the opportunity and let it stretch me as an artist. To not be afraid to admit I have things to say. To demand to be heard. I think one of the faults of being a writer, especially a student writer, is that when it comes to creating, we move through the world with our heads down; we forget that our work matters to people outside of ourselves. Elan asks the exact opposite of that from its staff members. As the Marketing Editor, I have had so many wonderful opportunities to be an active part of the Jacksonville arts and literary community. Sitting in a small room, such as the one I sat in during Jax Lit 3, and having a conversation about why art is important with people who see me as an artist is not an opportunity many people get to be a part of. I remember someone saying something like, “If one person is passionate about something, it will last, and if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by just a few others who are as passionate, anything is possible.” I feel as if, when it comes to the written word, I am always that passionate person. So Elan has given me the skills to take that passion and craft it into success. Every time I sit in one of those rooms I am shocked back into the root of why I continue to write. I am reminded that I am a creator, a maker. It’s who I am.

Through Elan, I’ve been asked to be present in the moment, to feed those connections and relationships with other artists, and to always consider what matters to me in my own life. After being on the Elan staff for almost two whole years, I’ve come to realize I’m skilled beyond just my writing. That’s something that I used to be insecure about because I would look around a room at so many people who had so many skills, and I felt they could better apply to the “real world” and the ideals that are pressed upon society in day to day life. And there I was, someone who was good at telling stories. But I’ve sat in so many rooms with so many talented and successful people, now, who are doing the same things I’m doing that I could never possibly believe, again, that my skills don’t matter or add up to anything.

Moving forward, I plan to continue immersing myself in the world of the written word and pursuing an MFA in poetry. With Tiffany Melanson as the Staff Advisor, I’ve been encouraged to understand myself and my work outside of the confines of school walls. I think without Elan I would have never had the chance to see myself, really take a step-back and look at myself. Elan has been my sanctuary for growth.

Lex Hamilton, Senior Marketing/Public Relations Editor