2020 has been a rough year for everyone – there’s no denying that. It was as if we were playing a game of Jumanji and kept missing the roll needed to get to the centre. In saying that, however, I think that this year we truly showed the resilience we all have within. We began to really appreciate our families and all that we had in our lives; we found how to take joy in even the littlest of things. Many people embraced their creative sides and began new hobbies or started a collection or two. It was a time to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with what makes us human. Whatever people chose to embrace during this year, I think most of us have a better understanding and appreciation for life and all that we hold dear.
“What does this all have to do with writing a review,” you might ask? Well, the next magazine that I’ll be discussing really got me thinking about the permanence of everything, and how we sometimes need to slow down to figure out what truly makes us happy. Sad Girl Review’s Issue 5: Collections and Lists is a beautiful combination of contemporary art and writing that manifests the emotions in things we own through the text and images on each page. One important thing to note is that the floral theme and the issue itself is dedicated to the featured artist, Tess Majors, who passed away in 2019.
Featured Artist: Tess Majors (2001 – 2019)
I really wanted to take a moment to appreciate and reflect on the photography included in this issue. Tess Majors had submitted the images to magazine before her passing in 2019, however, editor Amber Morrison Fox didn’t have the opportunity to review and include them until the Fall 2020 issue. I found it extremely touching and reassuring that Fox reached out to the Majors family so that she could honour Tess and her work. What I appreciate the most is that Fox chose to simply observe and describe the photographs rather than try to interpret them since she was unable to speak to Majors before her passing. Fox allows the images to speak for themselves and presents them in all their unadulterated glory so that readers of the magazine could appreciate the artistic lens that Majors looked through.
When I look at Majors’ photographs, I feel a sense of calming. The photographs are a blend of both curated pieces and naturally occurring events – and I think that they work harmoniously together for the collection. The images of the bee pollinating and the cat looming within the field of flowers capture a moment in time that reflects on the machinations of life. While the bee is busy working away doing its life purpose, the cat seems to have found solitude within its floral nest.
The images of the statue holding flowers, the hands with chipped nail polish, and the flowers affixed to the person’s shirt are all curated but create their own unique sense of wonder. Are the flowers placed in the statue’s hands something that is tradition? Is it simply decorative? It’s hard to say since we cannot ask Majors, but it does create a visual parallel that radiates a sense of hope and life. The other two images are unique as they incorporate human life within their contents, but again, we are left to wonder the significance of the people’s presence.
Tess Majors has done a beautiful job in tying these images together thematically while also maintaining a unique identity for each one. Her images have simplicity to them, but also create so much depth with the subject matter and the organization of that subject matter within the frame.
“Objects of Desire: What Do You Collect?”
Back when I was in elementary school, probably around grade one or two, we were allowed to borrow two books from the school library at a time. Of the two books, one would be a children’s book or an easy reader, while the other one was almost always an I Spy book. I loved seeing the pages filled with different themes and a huge collection of items that I would have to hunt through. Inspired by the books, I soon began to create my own collection of Digimon figures; since then, I have curated several collections of items – ranging from Lego Star Wars to books to mugs. Needless to say, the fifth issue of Sad Girl Review drew me in instantly.
The magazine is a gorgeous combination of contemporary art and writing, and the images rekindled that fondness I had for I Spy books. Collections are something that are so personal and so unique to each person, so while they may overlap in the sense of what people collect, the reasons and emotions behind the collections are always different. The collections in the issue range from stuffed toys to a series of drawings following a break-up. The images of these collections are able to convey a story without having to use words, and I think that adds to the overall charm of the issue. I personally believe more literary magazines should tap into their visual resources and not be afraid to sometimes let the artwork and imagery take the centre stage, with writing being used as an enhancer.
Featured Writing: “hodgepodge” by Leandra Lee
The featured writing in the issue is “hodgepodge” by Leandra Lee, and it was an absolute joy to read. The vivid imagery paints the narrative so well, and the poetic voice that Lee uses creates a rhythmic flow that encapsulates the emotional energy that collections (and by extension, the issue) hold. This piece is exactly what I described earlier; it doesn’t compete with the visuals, rather, it enhances the beauty of the issue and provides a nice break from the visual stimulation. Lee takes the reader on a journey as the narrator weaves through their memories of the things they once collected. As time progresses with each paragraph/stanza, we feel the narrator’s emotional growth, but then when the narrator picks up certain objects, we feel the emotional importance that’s locked away within the memories of that object. I can definitely see why this piece was chosen as the featured writing, and rightfully so.
Overall, I am really pleased with this issue and I have so much respect for Fox and her team with how they honoured Tess Majors. The combination of artwork and writing blends successfully and is able to convey the emotion and depth of each contribution. I definitely look forward to viewing more issues from Sad Girl Review; you’ve got a new fan!
You can read the latest issue of Sad Girl Review here.