The concept of isolation is inherently alienating, so it seems counter-intuitive that this theme exerts an irresistible pull to artists across time and throughout the world. But it is often these works, which come from a place of solitude and even desperation, that connect people in unexpected ways and speak to them the most. This juxtaposition is interesting to us as Craft editors here at The Pylon.
One of the reasons isolation might be so fascinating to artists is that it can take so many different forms, and has done so throughout history. Isolation is a frequent theme in literary movements, from Transcendentalist musings on the benefits of solitude in nature, to the Postmodern exploration of the mind as a form of confinement.
Even in modern day, those completely surrounded by others can’t seem to escape feeling isolated. Technology supposedly knits us closer together continuously, but at times it seems there is nothing more alienating than scrolling through your Instagram feed. We live in a world where everyone has a platform complete with “friends” or “followers,” but it’s easy to feel like you’re screaming (or posting) into the void. Isolation has its positives as well: it inspires reflection, thoughtfulness, and contemplation — unfortunately even these, when presented in art, can feel overly pretentious or personal.
But great works about isolation manage to make this thoroughly tread ground both fresh and accessible, and this is what we aim to bring you in this second round of selections. It’s easy to stray into unnecessarily self-aggrandizing or self-pitying work with this theme, or even reflection that risks sounding arrogant. Instead, these artists leave you with a vivid, personal yet relatable feeling. Madeleine Gallo’s poem “Alone” leaves the reader reeling from an emotional gut-punch, while Brennan Young’s painting Rainfall evokes more of a creeping slow melancholia. The tone of Steven Burneson’s song “Lustful Maiden” and the subject of Matt Baker’s photo “Tranquil Dissolution” revel in the dreaminess of solitude. Burneson’s photo Monument reminds us that people can disappear even in the most visible places; Shalini Rana’s poem “Me and They” reveals the contradictions of human connection, and finally, Maddy Sault’s poem “Testing” gives us a glimpse into the frantic state of feeling utterly alone.
We hope that these selections make you think about isolation in a new and exciting way, and that you’re as inspired by them as we are. As always, please consider submitting your own work to our next call for submissions.
Until next time,
Alyssa Lentz and Laura Copan
Craft Editors, The Pylon
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