Artwork by Featured Artist Claudia Shaldervan

In the United States, we are midway through a presidency that has sought to hammer, maul, and crush our cherished institutions, and our democracy has proven remarkably durable, able to withstand each unseemly assault. It doesn’t seem possible to swap horses mid-stream, to use an old expression, so those of us who are sorely offended by our Commander in Chief (and we are legion) will have to endure for a few more years a man who believes in speaking without books, cares nothing for the economy of nature, and believes himself to cut a fine figure on the world stage. Many could see right through the bone and into his carnivorous soul; point to a chicken and before you know it he will make of the air a flurry of feathers. No matter. There is no sense in putting new wine into old bottles.

I say all this because, as 2018 draws to a close, it can strike some as a pure pleasure, perhaps, to be able to put magnificent distance between themselves and the last two preceding years. We have a future to look forward to, and we are not yet bought, sold, and done for. There is a great shining hope; and naturally that hope lies with our young. The voices of the students of SVA, the power they summon through the articulation of their dreams, their eagerness to brawl against the forces of injustice and to immerse themselves in beauty (that which is anathema to all dictatorships)—this is what keeps my heart from plummeting to my boots. They have the energy and the talent and the will, and like the antithesis of the mythical Antaeus, if they are lifted off the ground and taste the air, they emerge inspired, and triumphant.

If Baudelaire demanded that poets should be sleepwalkers and hypnotists at the same time, why not daze on through Cecilia Rodriguez’s cosmic sparkway of talking stars, “Ballad of the Stars,” or Emily Pritykin’s alabaster fantasia, “Super-Moon.” Lose yourself in the ruminative ocean chant of Leah Giles’s wonderful poem, “The Ocean Was Heavier Than I Thought it Would Be.” Madeline Mortensen’s “Untitled” praise-song to the laboring outdoors soul is a marvel, while Linnea McGinness’s small devastation of a poem, “450+ Equals Freedom,” makes clever use of currency as her scaffolding. Jefferson J. Jacome’s spoken-word diatribe takes us on a long ride along the spaghetti junction of his poetical function (and after you read his work you’ll find yourself giving time to rhyme as well!).

Claire Muirhead’s short story “Mother Daughter Dance” is a fascinating look into a funny yet dysfunctional family while Jennifer Rostowsky’s “Nymph” poetically describes the breathlessness of young love. If science fiction is your passion, then check out a future New York City circa 2389 in Milaci Ray’s “Service to Theta 7.

There are also lovely personal essays, such as Yijing Wang’s “Animals Equal Food,” a case against animal cruelty which is so convincing that Frankenstein’s wretched creation would have greedily devoured it, and Farwah Rizvi’s clarion call for female empowerment, “Beauty Begins the Moment You Decide to Be Yourself.” Zhihan Wang’s timely and interesting essay on Virginia Woolf and the recent art-world treasure, Hilma af Klint, will educate and astonish and send you out into the world to scoop up both of these gifted women’s books.

And, last but certainly not least, we are proud to introduce our featured artist for this issue, the multitalented Claudia Shaldervan, whose illuminating works of art manifest a fixed fire within anyone who is fortunate enough to gaze upon them.

In this anthology of amusements, there is real talent which has no true bottom—it expands and deepens with time, and at its core there remains a perfect mystery. Try and hold an eel by the tail and it will invariably elude your grasp; so the wellspring of their gifts cannot be fathomed. If dreams are “the great silent movement of the soul through the night,” as the playwright Adam Adamov so beautifully put it, then to visit The Match Factory is to spend some time within the precincts of the fantastical. How can one dream if one’s feet are planted firmly on the ground? Hold onto my legs as we are borne aloft; we can all soar together.

I’d like to thank the multi-talented, hard-working, down-to-the-boots best designer and artist on this still-blue planet, Colin Goldberg, who I must also congratulate as well. Colin recently sold a suite of four works on paper from his Wireframe series, as well as Dynamic Dispatch, a Wireframe painting from 2012, to Stony Brook University Hospital for inclusion in their permanent public collection. This is an amazing accomplishment and I cannot be too happy for Colin! ¡Te felicito! I also wish to congratulate the wonderful Dr. Kyoko Miyabe—a formidable artist in her own right—on her recent appointment as the Curriculum Director of the Department of Humanities & Sciences. And thanks go to the ever-supportive, trusting, and kind Chair of the Humanities & Sciences Department Dr. Maryhelen Hendricks, the incomparable Laurie Johenning, and the always warm and cheerful Susan Kim. All have helped to make me feel a  genuine part of the SVA community–there is no better place to work!