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The Art of Self Expression

DarciSelfieThe year was 1844. The Romantic Movement originating in Europe had reached America. The country was discovering it’s independent voice, surging idealism and a passion for Romanticism. In his essay, “The Poet,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “For all men live by truth, and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.” In 1985, Madonna summed it up for me when she sang the words,  


“Only when I’m dancing can I feel this free.” 


From cave paintings and petroglyphs to ancient body piercing and Henna tattoos, the quest to express one’s individuality has been noted in time. Self-expression is an internal impulse or a personal vision put into external form. Over the centuries humans have utilized an array of art forms for the purpose of communication.  Etching, drawing, painting, dancing, singing, sculpting, sewing, photography and film-making are not only artistic but expressive means of communicating a message. 


Self-expression and creativity are universal functions of the human experience. Our willingness to express our thoughts from a place of personal truth is scary - it can leave you vulnerable to opposition, ridicule and this ugly thing called “bullying”. However, I cannot imagine a life without the full experience and the freedom to convey my truth as I see it - as well as the ability to see the world through the eyes of others.


Every issue of Élan, regardless of it’s theme, is driven by a purpose to liberate understanding and inspire experience. Our Arts Issue is no different, exposing you to a vast variety of creative forms that all stem from a burning passion for self-expression. From discovering a fire for Flamenco dancing, in-studio audio book recording, and the portray of American history, to the extraordinary view through a camera’s lens, there is diversity in every page. And, in celebration of our 8th Anniversary we asked our readers to participate. In a very personal eight page spread, we share with you some of their images, thoughts and vulnerabilities. What they delivered was beautiful ... just as they are!


“Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment,” said the Nobel Prize-winning author, Pearl S. Buck. Sharing of one’s “self” fully is the ultimate in generosity. On a deeper level, it is vital for peace, happiness and fulfillment. Create the space to experience it. You may just find yourself dancing more often. 


Darci Hansen

Founder, Editor in Chief