‘Connected’

Elizabeth Adriani’s Image Wins Easton Arts Council Photography Contest

It was a dark night in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic when Elizabeth Adriani arranged to meet a high school friend on the fields at Samuel Staples Elementary School. She not only looked forward to getting a glimpse of a comet said to be passing over, but in spite of the chill in the air, she looked forward to seeing her good friend after months of isolation.

The comet was blurry. Still, as was her practice, Adriani took pictures – scores of them – of the surrounding view, having given up on getting any good shots of the heavenly bodies streaking overhead. There was light extending, expanding, and reaching down. Suddenly in a moment, an image of light touched the darkness. Her intense feeling, and now ours, was captured in a photograph: “Connected”, winner of the 2021 Easton Arts Council Photography Contest.

Though she finds it hard to remember the model number of her digital Olympus Camera, Elizabeth is clearly attached to it, as artists are to their tools. With it slung over her shoulder, she often starts the day photographing nature in her neighborhood.

“You never know when you might discover something unique, something nice,” she says, admitting that she takes thousands of pictures. Her transportation on these morning sojourns is a small “Free Spirit” bicycle, to which she’s also obviously attached. “It’s from the 80s,” she enthuses, and with a shy smile, describes its blue paint “with sparkles in it.”

Elizabeth Adriani with her award-winning photo “Connected.”

The 18-year-old conveys a whimsy that belies her serious intentions to produce art that tells a meaningful story. Art that helps and heals. Art that helps make connections.

Having experienced trauma and having struggled with anxiety and feelings of being different all her life, Adriani’s work has much to do with mental health. “I want to communicate the idea that it’s OK not to be OK,” she emphasizes, having personally experienced the pressure that comes with trying to conform to a perceived norm.

“I describe myself as weird,” she says. “Then my friends say, ‘Weird? You’re not weird,’ as if it’s something bad.” She lights up. “I think weird is fabulous.”

While she didn’t always embrace her differences, Adriani describes coming out of her shell later, during her years at Joel Barlow High School. Unlike many parents, hers didn’t sign her up for extra classes, activities or sports unless she initiated participation. She attributes that parental concession to her ability to remain a free spirit.

She started drawing as a preschooler, she’s now using her skill as an illustrator to complete an internship with a movie-props maker, a job she loves. In January, she heads off to Savannah College of Art and Design to continue to build her skills in fine art. “I want to change the stigma that mental illness is ‘bad,'” Adriani says. She knows now that, like her, there are many who struggle and she wants them to know that they aren’t alone.

Reflecting upon the love and help she’s experienced growing up in Easton, particularly from her teachers at Joel Barlow, she states how crucial it is to have such understanding and support. “It’s important to show that you’re listening, that you care. If we just started there, the world would be such a better place.”

And then there’s her photograph, “Connected.” To this talented young woman, the concept speaks to the light that is there for us all, if we reach for it, even in the darkest of times. “Connected” captures that moment, a streak of light piercing a night sky. It’s other-worldly, inspiring, even weird in a fabulous way.

For information about the 2022 Easton Arts Council Photography Contest, go to
http://eastonartscouncil.org/upcomingevents.htm.

Photo at top: “Connected” by Elizabeth Adriani

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