For Senior Lena Wilson, Labrys Is Home

Eliza Going ’18
Assistant Arts Editor

Smith’s Labrys Art and Literary Magazine provides an opportunity for students to showcase their creative work outside the context of classrooms. The uncensored magazine is printed once a year, but the organization also works to create events with a focus on student art throughout the year. I spoke with Lena Wilson ’16, this year’s Labrys editor-in-chief, about her experience participating in the organization since her start at Smith.

Wilson describes Labrys as “serendipitous.” Her first year, she was rejected from all of the a cappella groups and SIKOS, so she was rather discouraged trying out for another campus group. She somehow ended up in a community of amateur writers and artists, all working toward the same goal of curating a publication that is uncensored and unedited, created by and for students.

Wilson became secretary her first year, despite having no experience with literary magazines. Labrys’s interview process is subjective, prioritizing someone’s interest and passion for the organization over her personal experience. Since then, she has watched the board experiment with different approaches and vibes in each year’s magazine.

The editor-in-chief determines much of what the group is going to be and what the magazine is going to look like.

Her experience as the vice president during the past two years allowed her to observe the inner workings of the organization. As a result, Wilson knew what she wanted to change when she attained her position of editor-in-chief this year. She “tightened up the ship a little” and focused on being a practical leader.

In terms of the magazine itself, Wilson noted that in past years it’s been “skewed toward literature,” so she wanted to focus on dedicating the same time and effort to art as to literature. She made sure Labrys held several art-based events this year, including an art show coupled with the launch of the magazine just a couple of weeks ago.

“Art and lit are seen as separate, even though a lot [of people] do both,” she said, discussing the dichotomy between art and lit in the magazine. While it’s common for people to submit a piece of writing with art to go alongside it, few people submit art sans lit. So Wilson hopes the next editors-in-chief also work to showcase more student art.

In this year’s issue, two writers and two friends of Wilson stood out: Shira Breen ’18 and Miche Hu ’18. On Breen’s submission, “Drought,” Wilson commented on the tough skill of saying so much with so little, saying it is “beautiful” and “leaves a lot up for interpretation.”

She also remembers Hu’s piece, “What if We Could Talk,” giving her chills “when we were reading it during submissions,” even before she knew who wrote it. Wilson said it means even more to her now after knowing who it came from.

“It’s so nice to get a break from the intensely academic parts of Smith and engage with a totally different part of my brain,” said Molly Bond ’19, this year’s secretary.

“It’s the best way to meet creative people,” said Adela Goldsmith ’19.   

On being a part of Labrys since the beginning of her college career, Wilson said “Much of the way I experience the world is rooted in artistic-ness, creativeness. Labrys was part of what made Smith feel like home.”

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