Today is an exciting day. My first article has been published in a "real" newspaper (in other words, not The Collegian, Asbury University's student newspaper). Now, I'm not studying journalism, but as a general story and writing enthusiast I'm never opposed to gaining more perspective. I spent some of last year writing for The Collegian to learn more about journalism and produce portfolio pieces.
As a result of taking the time to learn a new process, I had enough basic skill and raw talent to appeal as an intern to Local iQ based in Albuquerque. They are a bi-monthly publication that focuses on the upcoming art exhibits, festivals, films, concerts, food, books, and culture surrounding New Mexico. I was so thankful for the opportunity for hands-on experience and a chance to learn more about media industries in the area.
My first assignment was to cover an art exhibit called Adaptations opening later this month. It's hosted by a collection of artists who have all come face-to-face with cancer (either in their own bodies or in those of dear friends). The point of the exhibit is to showcase the process of living with disease.
I've posted the link to the article below, which I hope conveys the message, but first I'd like to share a bit of my journey. This piece was my first, as I've mentioned, and it was a challenge. The subject matter is unique and therefore fascinating, but it is almost too rich. I'm not complaining - please do not mistake me. I mean that I began to resent my 700 word limit.
My editor initially put me in contact with two women. Both were curators of the exhibit and one was also an artist/co-founder of the project. Since the exhibit is a collage of each person's experience, I wanted to get the overall themes these people are communicating about adapting to a life outlined by death. Those ladies put me in contact with a few more artists, who gave me the emails of a few more, etc. Pretty soon, I was in contact with over half of the artists showcased in the gallery. And every one of them had a different story to tell.
They wasted no time in opening up to me; they couldn't. They understand what it is to be out of time. Each conversation was honest, heartfelt, and laced with meaning. Almost all of them sent me extra material beyond the questions I asked: photographs, blogs, letters written to "Cancer," the first few chapters of a novel, etc.
André Ruesch, an incredible photographer and professor gave me a letter he'd addressed to cancer. In one paragraph, he voices, "You have left me helpless to save most in my care and reduced me to your custodian of the dying. You mess with my mind by making me curate a new show, each time, as your new works arrive. And you have deepened my guilt because, of course, I am not the one dying." These people know how to feel and how to communicate that with others who may be feeling too.
In the span of five days, I knew these people. Not because they had explained their disease in full medical terms, but because they had shared their hearts, their hopes, their lives with me. I think part of it is that they've figured out how to rejoin life. They know the facts. We are all dying. We are all adapting constantly. We are all learning, laughing, loving, losing. We can all relate to each other, and that's the way we make it through.
I am so honored to have been allowed to tell a snippet of their story and reveal this fantastic project to the city of Albuquerque. If you are able, I encourage you to come out and see some of their work. If not, please look up these wonderful people and their artwork. They've added beauty to this world.
(Here is a short piece I wrote to introduce a New Media festival in Santa Fe. Imagine an interactive museum meets technology, meets art - it's so cool!