Creating from Nothing

Whenever my eyes used to come across “Milkmaid” by Eryka Goldsworthy, it struck a familiar chord. I’d find myself staring at all aspects of the painting, the way the wood contains small looped circles and the bread reflects the light coming from the window. I believe that this painting resonated with me because it focused on a small action, something simple, a snapshot of milkmaid. The inspiration for this painting had to have come from the oil painting by a Dutch artist in 1658, also called “The Milkmaid”. The biggest differences between the two paintings is notably the setting. The painting done by Eryka is much more modern, the milkmaid is pouring milk in ceramic bowl on the edge of a stainless-steel sink.

            From the hues to the Milkmaid’s expression, there is no question that the painting is organic. It illustrates an overall feeling of home coming from a creator. I believe that any entrepreneur, cook, farmer, writer, painter, can relate to feeling radiated by the painting. Writing takes places first in the home and when I look back at my earliest memories, some of my writing took place while watching my mother cook in the kitchen. Paintings like “Milkmaid” exhibit a feeling grounded in the roots of any culture. Writing involves reaching into memories to explore more about oneself, whether it was a good or bad period in our life. It is a good feeling to know that the emotions behind a piece are true, and they can be true to anyone.

One of my poems describes how I used to watch my family work at the back of a restaurant, elbow grease and all. I think that “Milkmaid” resonated because it reminded me of an actual memory at a very young age. Paintings that take me back to a certain point in life inspire me to create something from nothing. Personally, “nothing” is a state of mind or a plateau for an artist.  Creating something out of nothing is when my best ideas take place. Last year, “Milkmaid” pulled me out of a plateau with writing that I was going through and inspired me to create a creative nonfiction story about the milkmaids of Colombia. I have found myself always writing about small actions in my daily life, mostly because it amazes me how differently I can experience them.

The Elan literary magazine publishes nothing but organic work. Our paintings like “Milkmaid” exhibit a profound candid expression. The action of the milkmaid is a lot similar to other pieces that Elan publishes, it makes writers like myself reflect on a memory to create something memorable.

Evelyn Alfonso, Poetry Editor


cover-65-54c54763e0833Poetry has always marveled me with its ability to craft words together and create magic on a page. The power present in and between words, hidden in the white space and embedded in the title astonishes me every time. I have found strength in the confined space of a poem, and this art form has taught me more lessons than simply what is seen on the page.

Enjambment helped me overcome boundaries. Forced me to take leaps and surprise myself. Titles taught me to take control. Meter gave me a voice in its melody. Listening to my whispers amidst the commotion of life. Hyperboles warned me not to take things too seriously. Metaphors took me deeper. Forced me to understand all sides of a story. Taught me to explore the mind. Ambiguity allowed me to keep things to myself, to have secrets. Symbolism changed the way I viewed minuscule details. Suddenly nothing felt insignificant. Imagery gave me colors and instructed me to paint. Images awakened my world. Sensory details found their way around my body, hiding under my tongue and deep in my ears, becoming a part of me.

Poetry has given me a different outlet for expression, one where I challenge myself to understand my own perceptions. It has pushed me to understand the origins, implications and the underlying details. Poetry has transformed my process of thinking and has inevitably affected the way I respond to the world.

For the beauty it holds, and the power it has given me, I am incredibly grateful for the art of poetry.

-Briana Lopez, Junior Social Media Editor