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  • Winnie Blay

Grounding Myself in Art

Whenever I feel like I have come to a point where I have “run out” of things, ideas, themes, I turn to visual art to try and find inspiration. I do this thing where I am constantly writing about myself and what is happening in my life and, in turn, feel as if I am continuously writing about the same things over and over again in the same exact ways with the same exact language. It feels like I am stuck in my own writing.

Going to visual art allows me to disconnect my personal life from my writing and take on the voice of the subject or artist or to interact with something other than myself in my writing. I will write pieces that I would have never thought about writing or even thought of in general because of pulling my inspiration from something else, something intended to make the consumer feel some sort of visceral reaction.

Both writing and visual art make their consumers think and go further into each piece than what is first seen. It’s amazing. I can look at the same piece of art endlessly, but still continue to find something else about the it. There is always more.

Élan takes both art and writing and uses them so that a kind of symbiotic relationship occurs within the book itself. There is writing that has to do with the art and art that has to do with the writing. Each feed off the other.

In the 2017 Fall edition, an art piece titled, Fruit on Wheels III, is one that I find myself going back to consistently and doing nothing more than just looking at it and trying to piece together a semblance of the story of what is happening in it. Who are the two men? What are they doing? Where is it? Why was the artist drawn to capturing this moment in time? What did the artist want people to get out of it?

In all honesty, I am not entirely sure as to why I am drawn to this piece. There’s a story or something deeper lying in every piece of artwork, and I will most likely never truly know what the artist intended to say with this piece, but I can piece together what the art is telling me.

It tells me anguish and hard work and determination and exasperation and aspiration and just-getting-by and this-is-life-and-it-is-okay. I think it is partly because I am who I am and that I write what I write. I don’t do super crazy fiction stories or fantasy or abstract. I do grounded and realistic and in your face and there is more to what I am saying. That’s what I felt from this artwork. On the surface, you understand what is most likely happening, but you keep going further and further into the work itself and the smallest aspect of the art means something.

Writing from this piece would be me removing myself in the sense that maybe it isn’t a personal narrative that I am telling, but instead, someone else’s narrative that I am telling with personal conviction and connection.

- Winnie Blay, Junior Managing Editor


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