If geography is destiny, as some historians would have it, then artists need look no further than the uncharted wilderness of the heart. This is their true north, the place where great beauty and mystery resides. Very often we stumble into these precincts on pure instinct, much like a man who had tumbled into a trench filled with mud might find his way toward a soap factory. Though the artist might be a fool for his pains, if one steered the course on pure faith, then the doors of perception may fling wide to a world of astonishments, where giant planets discuss the politics of stars.

So turn away from the gatekeepers of YouTube for a while, the Instagram blam, the promise of Facebook fame; and like cavefish in the lower depths swim away from the media dazzle, where our Commander in Chief and his minions beat the truth hollow on a nightly basis, laying us by the heels. Come to the place where the words are like healing gold, and visions of artists strike sparks in the eye like a wheel-window spoked in witching flame. Come to where the real truth resides, for art is the curious knot that binds us all: the urge to communicate a certain vision of life links each to each in the human community, and there is no better Elastoplast for the national wound.

So step into the sodium nightmare of Claudia Shaldervan’s poetry, down among the dead and drunken which is imbued with flares of Romanticism, then read “The Future” and “The Forgotten Jewel,” sly stabs at Trump’s singsong to American exceptionalism. If you wish to know what it feels like to be zapped by an X26 taser (and seek to avoid the real writhing agonies of 50,000 volts entering your body), then look no further than Joshua Rhule’s poetry. Chelsea Blake’s “Far From Myself” offers a questing look into the human condition, and if you are a lover of the natural world, then read Anne-Lee Hewing’s beautifully written tale of a sapling who nurses resentment against its enormous pine tree brothers and decides to pull up stakes and find a new home, along with Hae Won Kang’s poem about nature aggrieved by our indifference.

In “Tear Cancer” a young woman is struck by a rare disease that teaches us about the folly of misplaced sorrow, and in “Big Business,” a young man in Brooklyn considers the intersection of commerce and language experiments in the teeming metropolis, which leads him to matter-of-factly weigh the costs of love. In S. von Puttkammer’s essay, a post-modern response to a philosophical treatise on love is required in order to comprehend the vicissitudes of the heart, and “My Grandmother” provides a moving portrait of an admirably tough Chinese grandmother, whose eventful life serves as an example to the young writer. If you wish to be reminded of the dazzle of life, read Maria Tinoco’s “An Ocean’s Gift,” an underwater fantasia in which a snorkeler encounters gemmy miracles in an Australian coral reef.

Brilliant film reviews by Tom Yoannidis plumb the depths of a pair of thorny art-house features, and like a demonologist summoning the fiery efreet he hurls headlong into the danger of magic-making, divulging for our benefit a few secrets along the way, while Elizabeth Davalos’s cartoons offer a much-needed reprieve from life’s pressures and stress.

And we are proud to present the gorgeous images of student photojournalist Abraham Rojas, and the graceful surreality of Kyoko Miyabe’s Bird Bone paintings—immerse yourself in their work and come away transformed.

Lastly, I wish to congratulate all the winners of SVA’s Fifth Annual Writing Program Contest. The work you produced is an inspiration and a great solace, and I hope that you will continue to write, and create, and dream. Reading through each of these works made me proud to be a part of SVA’s community!

Until the next issue . . .

Artwork by featured artist Abraham Rojas.

Kyoko Miyabe, Bird Bone Series. Acrylic on Canvas, 11 x 14 inches.

Acrylic on Canvas, 11 x 14 inches.

Artwork by featured artist Kyoko Miyabe.