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  • Reece Braswell

Fears and Wonders

When I was a Junior learning the ropes of my role as Art Editor, I was daunted by my responsibilities. Now that I am a Senior, however, and I know the entirety of this process, I plan to utilize those skills I gained to take me through this year. As Art Editor, it is my responsibility to choose visual art pieces to pair with writing pieces in the Élan book. We receive work from Douglas Anderson and other schools across the nation (and even other countries). I keep communication with DA’s art department through Art Liaisons; they are the ones who collect pieces from DA artists. I also keep communication with the Managing Editor because they receive art that comes from outside of school.

After all the art is compiled, my Junior partner and I sift through what we have, narrow the pieces down, then present them to the rest of Élan to conduct the voting process – it is here where the submissions will get narrowed even further. During this process, we search for story potential and uniqueness.

My role blends two art forms – visual art and writing. As a person passionate about both, this was the job I knew I wanted when I stepped into Élan; it’s always so satisfying to send out those acceptance letters to the artists who get into this publication. It makes you realize how much of an opportunity Élan’s platform gives to emerging artists. It is so important to fuel the next generation of creative minds – that is Élan’s goal in the long run.

That is why students shouldn’t be afraid to submit to this publication! There is always a sense of pride when something you’ve created is recognized by others. I remember when I got accepted into Élan Freshmen year – for one, I was surprised. I didn’t think my Freshmen writing was up to par with any of the works that were accepted in that publication. It gave me validation. After that, there were submission periods I did not get published, but that just made me work harder for the next time. You’ll surprise yourself with things you didn’t know you could do. Besides, it never hurts to try.

Submitting your art can also encourage growth and trying new techniques. Since that first acceptance letter, my writing has improved significantly. Granted, I lean towards poetry now, whereas fiction was my go-to Freshmen year. I still appreciate both branches of writing equally, but it’s the raw emotion in poetry draws me towards it. For many, poetry gives them a space to show their most authentic selves, reevaluating where they stand in their own lives. At least, that’s been my experience. Poetry has opened a window into myself where I can see the emotions I need to draw out. All Art, in fact, has this universal release. It teaches, connects us to universal experiences, and heals us. For many, it gets them through trauma, other life struggles, and helps them process the world – many young people don’t know they have that power.

As Art Editor, I am exposed to so much vulnerability in both visual art and writing. In many ways, seeing that openness has encouraged me to be more vulnerable in my writing.

 As I leave this chapter behind in the next couple of months, passing down the Élan legacy to the next generation, I realize how daunting life is. There are so many things I have yet to experience, as well as things I fear experiencing. Even with these fears, however, I am still left with my writing – a space that allows me the opportunity to explore these wonders and terrors.

In the end, they are more than words, and visual art is more than the visual. Humans give art life; a story beyond this very one we still barely know anything about. Élan gives students a space to show those struggles, fears, and wonders. That is why Élan is so important to me, and why I am going to make this year count.

In fact, I am already making plans so these next couple of months run smoothly. I will be focusing on expanding Élan’s submission reach and locating new art schools in and out of the country. I will also be working to maintain a steady stream of communication within Élan, keeping track of dates, and knowing what is required of me at all times. Through this organization, I carry the weight of my role and keep Élan from falling behind. If there is anything I learned in my Junior year, it is that this is a team effort. By exposing me to such a professional environment, I have learned to be more productive and responsible. It is these skills that I will carry on with me in the future. That is what I want others to see about Élan – the process is rigorous, but we do this because we are passionate about it.

- Reece Braswell, Senior Art Editor


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