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12. A confluence of words and image
The beauty in the everyday.
update: open to submissions!
Now that I’ve invited my friend Abhas to contribute to this post, I invite you to submit works for a feature – or, if you’re an artist, nominate one of your own pieces for consideration. Anything goes, as long as it gave you pause for thought!
suggested reading method
To best savour this artwork, please take a moment to eliminate distractions. Consider minimizing all other windows on your computer; putting other devices (phone, tv etc) aside; taking a deep breath, to the full extent of your lung capacity; and focusing solely on the “artwork” section.
Once you’ve processed that to your satisfaction, the rest of the post is optional reading, provided only to share my own impressions and reasons for choosing this piece.
☀️ Just then, a stunning display of light outside the window caught his eye. Mid-conversation, he turned on his heel and raced out the door.
Bounding across the grass, he stopped with this eyes glued to the sky.
Pinks and oranges played in somersaults over clouds. Yellows spilled from the horizon as blue and amethyst circled above.
His mouth hung open in awe.
"This happens every night?"
"Just on clearer nights."
He stood silent for a moment, a tear rolling down his cheek.
What did I do to deserve to spend even a moment here? This living, breathing sphere of boundless beauty. Showering its inhabitants with its love and beauty in every manifestation of its essence.
🌙 Through his friend's tearful eyes, the sunset looked so brilliant, so new.
Why had he never noticed it before?
Why was everyone else walking by like normal, as if there wasn't a display of light more brilliant than any fireworks show right above them?
Even the fireflies glowing gently around them seemed different, somehow. Their soft light leaving trails of yellow-green in the air.
He took a deep breath and calmed his own emotions. He grabbed his friend's hand.
"Let's see if we can make it to the ocean before the light fades."
By Abhas Misraraj on Instagram, June 30, 2021.
There was lots of impressive work on Abhas’ Instagram to choose from, but I settled on this piece because of the unique combination of photography, self-portraiture, drawing, and short story. The colours on the border perfectly complement the image in the center, and the backing patterns are subtle so our eyes are drawn to that bright orange in the middle.
Both picture and story are split into two: light, with the more alert-looking portrait on the bottom of the image and the sun emoji in the story; and dark, with the more troubled (or perhaps willfully blind?) portrait on the top and the moon emoji. Abhas provides his own inspiration below, but in keeping with this duality (and perhaps drawn to this conclusion by the self-portrait aspect), I could also see the “friend” in the written portion as part of the self. Perhaps this is a more optimistic and benevolent part of one’s personality, the part willing to pull them out of their emotional doldrums.
It is poignant to draw so much meaning out of a single sunset. Those striking yet fleeting colours are emblematic of many moments of beauty we are too preoccupied or distracted to see. But life is short, and before we know it, we might not have the luxury. Sometimes, it really is worth taking the time to abandon whatever we were doing, and go chase that sunset to the sea.
Abhas Misraraj is an artist and product designer for iNaturalist, who divides his time between the Bay Area and Chicago. I met him via the Creative Chimera group of artists who work across mediums; Abhas is a great example of this self-identification, as he practices media including not only photography and writing, but also digital art, painting, 3D modeling, videography, pin, sticker & zine designing, and more. His portfolio can be found here, and he also writes a weekly Substack called Samudra. In short, what doesn’t Abhas do?! :)
Abhas kindly provided insights into this work:
I remember seeing the magnificence of the sky that day out of my window, and I rushed outside to admire it. It was full of magentas, oranges, reds. It was absolutely stunning.
What struck me was that people in my neighborhood were just walking their dogs and going about their evening, even though the sky was possibly more beautiful than any fireworks show I'd ever seen. It felt like no one was paying any attention to its beauty.
So the story of an alien came to me in that moment– one who could see the beauty of a magnificent sunset for the first time ever. It brought tears to my eyes to think about how someone who'd never seen a sunset might react. How lucky are we that we get a sunset every single day?
Since that day, I always pay attention to the sky in the evenings. If I think the sunset's going to be beautiful, I make some time to just go outside and admire it, no matter how busy I am. The beauty of the earth is always dancing around us, we just have to be present enough to see it.
Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments!
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