Art Breeds Community

On June 4th, I and other members of the Drake Community Press had the chance to experience Mainframe Studios’ First Friday event featuring the works of Dylan Huey, the photographer for Above and Beyond Cancer. Dylan’s showing was scheduled for last June in concert with the book launch; its derailing was one of many things we missed during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, we are resilient. When plans change, we are not afraid to change with them. Though the celebration of Dylan’s beautiful photography was a year later than we originally anticipated, we celebrated with a greater appreciation of the community we’ve created.

I think there is something significant about the fact that the first community event the DCP has attended in over a year was centered around art. Where there’s art, there’s community. That is part of the reason why the DCP uses art in the forms of writing, photography, and graphic design to create our end products. In the process of making art, we are in community with one another.

While was at First Friday engaging in conversation with strangers about the DCP’s mission, I realized how grateful I was to be in a community setting. My DCP internship began in March 2020, a week before Drake went virtual. I soon stepped into the role of Senior Intern, running our weekly intern meetings via Zoom for two semesters. Despite endless technological challenges and the mental and emotional toll of the year of isolation, the DCP interns handled it all with grace. Now, having been in-person at Mainframe, I am thrilled to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was so lovely to catch up with old professors, see people from Above + Beyond Cancer in person for the first time, and meet local artists. The First Friday event at Mainframe Studios was a taste of normalcy and community. Now that I have experienced this sense of community, I am only more excited to be a part of more events as we begin our next project.

We are all in a transition stage. As more and more Iowans are fully vaccinated, we are forging a path toward our new normal. As the DCP celebrates Dylan Huey’s amazing photography, we also usher in our newest community partner for our next project, the Iowa Environmental Council. It is such an honor to work with the IEC’s director, Brian Campbell, and hear his clear passion for environmental justice. The IEC’s work with grassroots organizations, creating policies, and educating the public about the climate crisis and its impacts in Iowa is both important and inspiring. I think I can speak for all of the DCP when I say we are excited to embark on this new project with the IEC as our community partner.

—Gabbie Melms