New Beginnings

What art has taught me is there is a story to everything, and every story starts somewhere in its own unique way. From there, the story unfolds a journey, or a realization. Artists write, paint, create music, etc., to release that message in a way that expresses his or her being and connects to someone. Art is a compilation of different perspectives coming into a concentrated form.

By being in Elan, I have been able to understand this greater than I ever have before. As one of the Art Editors, I have to pour over visual art pieces, select a handful, then pair the works to writing pieces. Looking at these pieces are always mesmerizing. They all have such power; they all show a struggle and a journey. I realized throughout this year that the quality of the art isn’t what is considered; it’s the meaning behind it. It’s about the artist expressing his or her past or internal self.

I officially learned about Elan in my Sophomore year of high school when I attended an event called Yellow House. It was an exhibit dedicated to the writing and visual art of young artists that had been accepted into Elan. Seeing the amount of raw, emotional talent and dedication that had been put into those pieces was just indescribable. I realized, then, how much art affects others. To the artist, it’s releasing something in their bones. To the person pouring over their work, they are discovering something in their bones. We look at art and we learn of a world we didn’t even know about.

Elan’s community engagement is important for these moments. They give young, aspiring artists something to look to; to know their art has a place somewhere. That, yes, their art does have purpose besides filling up flash drives or small studios. One of my poems was in that exhibit, and that was very impactful. I finally realized the worth of my own art to others. I realized even my art could connect people. These are the lessons Yellow House taught me. My goal as a fellow Elan staff member is to continue doing those meaningful projects, because in the future, as it did me, someone is going to attend and have a personal realization.

These projects also help develop my ability to handle huge tasks and take on new responsibilities. Coming into Elan, I knew I would be gaining a lot of meaningful experience that I could take with me into the working world. Elan has done more that I originally expected; it has showed me the power of working as a team, how to properly communicate, and how to effectively reach an audience. Elan is about reaching out and expressing the importance of art.

Elan has given me the opportunity to put passion into what I do. I am working towards a meaningful whole. As I observe more art and look at the stories of others, I learn about my own story as a person in this world. I am always picking up the pieces and building something different – something that will help me in the next chapter of my life. With those tools, I create art. I absorb new art. I look for new perspectives, and from there, new beginnings arise.

Reece Braswell, Junior Art Editor

Élan at Color Me Kona

Élan’s community engagement is an extremely important part of what this student magazine does because of the outreach. As a small class, we are always looking for ways to connect with our audience, and interact with them in ways that produce a positive outcome. These events that Élan has participated over the past year (Yellow House, Color Me Kona, LaVilla workshop) have boosted our image to the local literary community. Élan shouldn’t be an invisible face to the public. To me, engagement and outreach to our audience is something that makes me proud to be on the staff; when explaining what we do to a crowd, I know that we are making an impact in the literary world, even if it’s just a small one.

This year, as a junior, I have had the honour of being on the Color Me Kona team. Before the day of the event I was building with anticipation and excitement at the thought of putting Élan out there; during the event I was proven right. Several people came up to our booth to look through our magazine, and ask questions. Élan was showing itself to others in a way it has never done before. Being on a field with other artists’ work felt like we belonged there. My role felt completed; my hard work helping the team paid off in a wonderful, successful way. The process of building a mural, making bookmarks, and coming up with ideas for audience engagement took a lot of team effort, but the results were more than I would’ve expected. It made me excited for more events (soon, they are coming soon). I want Élan to be at every local literary event there is because without engaging, and participating with our audience (and the people we have not reached yet), Élan will never grow farther. As a member of the staff, I want this magazine to succeed in bigger, better ways, and I truly think that doing community events will help with that goal. As a writer, I felt encouraged seeing other artists so deeply involved in their art. Color Me Kona was truly the place Élan needed to be.

– Luz Mañunga, Junior Digital Media Editor

Élan Literary Magazine Takes on the Jacksonville Community

Onto of being a large publication which posts a student produced book every year, and two online editions to be read by anyone on the internet, Élan tries to be a part of the local community more than any literary magazine I’ve seen do. We try to reach outside our four walls and spread out throughout the community. My experience working with the staff to connect and engage our audiences has taken me outside of the editorial room and into middle schools, libraries, art museums, and even skateparks (I know what you’re thinking). What we call “community engagement” in Élan is truly one of our biggest tasks where we sit down almost every day to discuss why we want to get out and what our main goals are with each project. Being on the Élan staff has taught me more about enriching the lives of people around us and people who are interested in our work than I ever thought possible.

Like I said, we’ve visited middle schools to have discussions on literature and have held events in art museums that let us personally capture an audience that is truly interested in the work Élan is publishing. One of the most impactful events we held was one that I personally was the personal in charge. Kona Skatepark, the nation’s oldest running skatepark, holds an event every year in which artist in the community come together for one day and celebrate what makes them inspired. The event is called Color Me Kona and artists of all mediums – singing, dancing, writing, drawing, photography, etc. – join for this special event to inspire the youth in Jacksonville Florida and this year Élan was proud to be a part of it. With our booth and stack of books prepared, the staff stood outside in the blazing sun (and even a little rain in the morning) and talked to dozens of people who we are. Not only did we sell our books, a very important part of any international literary magazine, but we also were able to bring a deeper understanding to why what the Élan staff does is important. I felt like my role in the event helped not only open the minds of children, teens, and adults, but also open my mind to the possibility of connecting with people on a broader scale.

Leaving that event after roughly ten hours reminded me of how much I deeply care about Élan Literary Magazine. It is more than just how many books we sell and if anyone from the event wants to now submit to Élan. I became truly excited about all the growing the staff had done in those ten hours. Everyone’s faces were eager to talk to complete strangers (mind I remind you, we are a staff of writers who can tend to be on the introvert side of things) about not only Élan but writing and why it matters to them. We all felt accomplished when people began to gather around and listen to what we had to say about our trustee staff. When I came into the editorial room the next week, I was ecstatic to share how amazing community events, like Color Me Kona, matter in our society and to me.

Valerie Busto, Senior Fiction/CNF Editor