Next in our series on the 2017 Gold Medal Portfolio recipients are Chasity Hale and Bronwyn Katz, a writer and an artist who delve deep into memories and emotions when creating their works. Hope is what fuels Chasity’s writing and she finds inspiration in poets like Emily Dickinson. Bronwyn is inspired by transforming human emotions and experiences into fantastical creatures.
“I hope that when people read my portfolio, they think that like a string of lights, each piece is an incandescent bulb, glowing and glittering, but every work, both prose and poetry, is connected to the same power source: knowledge. Ultimately, the point I want to get across is: although our emotions seem to oscillate with great frequency, our feelings cannot be measured with sinusoidal waves; we do not experience our happiest and saddest points in troughs and crests. No, instead our emotions are non-linear and non-parabolic sequences. This hope, this unwavering belief that life is mostly good manifests itself in my work. My conviction is that although we experience negative trends, the events in our lives and our reactions to those events are mostly positively increasing towards infinity.”
Excerpt from “Sheen and Bloom”
Short Story, Grade 12, Age 18, Miami Arts Charter School, Miami, FL
They believed in friendship and bees, girls like dandelions and boys like lemon rinds. For Lux and Kennedy, they were a hive’s favorite florae and closeness was a swarm that descended upon them, picking pollen from their tufts and organizing them into the same baskets. From the start of sixth grade, they knew they were familiars, stemming from the same soil.
Kennedy had been at the school since the beginning of elementary, but even after all those years, had never really taken to anyone. Lux had just moved from Miami to Umatilla with her father and grandmother. She was very shy and much smaller than the other kids; Kennedy was, too. Throughout the first day, they had both been the faintest noise, a mere whisper, out of tune with the whirr of the other children.
That is, until Kennedy approached Lux, who had sat after hours in the empty schoolyard on the hopscotch drawn in chalk. She had been magnetized to her because of something she said in class and thought it the perfect time to speak now that no one was around. Lux’s honey hair had burned beneath the Florida sun then, and the sunset unraveled on her white sneakers.
“Lux Davies, right? You’re in the same class as me.” Lux removed one pink earphone from her right ear, but didn’t say anything; she looked in the general direction of Kennedy, but still, Kennedy was unsure if she was actually looking at her.
“Mrs. Small’s class…” she continued. “I sit with Ian Smith and Jude Reynolds. Um, in class, you said your favorite old band was The Rolling Stones, which is really cool. I like them too, and uh, I know it can be rough sitting with Katie Chuck. She sticks gum under the tables and chews her pencils. By the way, I’m Kennedy Harper….”
“I know who you are.” Lux turned her head downwards and began to twist her shoelaces around her index fingers. “You talk a lot.” She sighed. “Not during class, just now.”
“Yeah, yeah… I just wanted to talk to you… about The Rolling Stones.”
“What’re you doing here so late after school?”
“My mom doesn’t get off work until five. I-I’m supposed to go to aftercare, but…” She trailed off.
“Yeah, me, too.” They both were silent for a moment. “Um, do you want to sit?”
“Yeah, sure. Uh, who’re you listening to?” Kennedy asked, motioning to the earphones and CD player.
“Here,” she said while handing her the right ear.
When the sound reached her, Kennedy nearly shouted, making Lux jump. “Bloom! Is this Bloom?”
“Yeah, you like them?”
“Like them? Ugh, I love!” Lux’s eyes lit up, and she felt a smile stretch into her cheeks. It was the first time that whole day, and with it, their buzzing began. For the next three years, they sat in class together every day, humming the same songs, playing tetherball or jumping rope after school. They both loved running, and often raced across the field, recording their times. Lux always won. A sisterhood swirled between them like pollen until the beginning of high school, when the colony had begun to collapse or migrate. Kennedy wasn’t sure which.
“I base my work off of my own memories in the hope that some of my personal narrative will become evident in my art despite my subjects’ animalistic forms. More often than not, by the time I transform these memories into a completed piece of artwork, only the emotions behind the memory are visible in the piece. I complete all my work in the medium of printmaking, which adds more depth to the images than a drawing would provide. Additionally, the fact that I have to manually carve out or roll ink over every inch of the image forces me to pay attention to the image as a whole, instead of simply directing my attention towards my subject. Through my artwork, I aim to provide a lens with which the viewer can identify their own emotions in an unexpected context. Despite my lack of human subjects, I hope the viewer will be able to infer a story line from my art, or, at the very least, recognize something of themselves in my work. Additionally, I hope to make everyday experiences appear fantastical by including them in a fictitious universe.”
To see more Gold Medal Portfolio recipients, past and present, visit our Eyes on the Prize series.