Spring 2016: Julie M. Elman's Response to "What We Fear" Essay Winners

Julie M. Elman responds to the winners of our Spring 2016 Student Writing Competition.

Dear Clair, Deedee, Dion, Jazmyn, Jonah, and Nicole,

Since 2012, I’ve been illustrating other people’s fears. I’ve covered a lot of ground during that time, and have found myself visually interpreting topics that aren’t obviously visual on the surface, including death, failure, needles, and being wrongfully imprisoned. Lots of different people have shared with me their greatest fears, and many say that after seeing a tangible interpretation of these fears, they feel less burdened by it. Being exposed to fear, whether pictorially or in words, is powerful for people simply because of how deeply embedded this emotion is in most of our everyday lives. No matter if you are a student in middle school, high school, or college, fear is a fact of life. You may feel alone in your personal inferno of fear—but through sharing what frightens you, you strengthen us.

When YES! Magazine’s Education Outreach Manager Jing Fong asked me to be a part of this year's spring student writing competition I was intrigued. And then, when I read the winning entries—I was blown away. In every one of these essays, nobody held back. Through each person’s articulate and clear voice, I could feel his or her vulnerability leaping off the page. I can only hope I’ve done justice to represent, with my pen, ink, and paint, a small part of what each person expressed.
— Julie M. Elman, May 2016



Illustration for Middle School Winner Deedee Jansen. Read her essay, "How Do You Spell: Afriad, Dislexsa, Faer"



Illustration for High School Winner Clair Williamson. Read her essay, "A Different Kind of Relapse"



Illustration for University Winner Dion Medina. Read his essay, "Chronic Pain"



Illustration for Powerful Voice Winners Jazmyn Bryant, Jonah Gold, and Nicole Reiber. Read Jazmyn's essay, "A Serf in the Midst of Feudalism"

Read Jonah's essay, "A Future Me"

Read Nicole's essay, "The Monster Within"

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