Sydney Kate Watson, arts & living editor
On Tuesday March 29 Ramifications (RAM), the Berry College Art and Literary Magazine, released its special diversity issue. All authors and artists are members of diverse communities, and the Ramifications staff anonymously selected each piece during a review process. More information about the process can be found in the back of the Ramifications issue.
Junior Kayla Slack, who identifies as a neurodivergent and queer woman, served as the lead editor of the diversity issue. For her, developing the magazine and getting to hear everyone’s stories was an amazing experience that helped challenge a commonly held perception regarding the lack of diverse communities within the “Berry Bubble.”
“One of the biggest highlights was getting to see all of the diversity on Berry’s campus,” Slack said. “I think it can be really easy to get into the mindset where you think there’s not a lot of people like you out there.”
Not only does the Diversity Issue give students a chance to connect with others who are a part of diverse communities at Berry, but it also serves as a platform for individuals, according to Slack.
“We’re all different, and those [diverse] voices need to be heard,” Slack said. “They’ve historically been undermined and not listened to, and so this was really important so that they are listened to, they have their own special issue to submit to.”
Slack emphasized that this issue provides an important platform, allowing everyone’s story to be told.
“I want everyone in the Berry community to know that there is more and there [are] a lot of us,” Slack said. “We’re all different, we are all complex and we all should be listened to because our stories are all worth being heard.”
Junior Emily Perry’s short story “The Art of Self Discovery” is featured in this issue of Ramifications. Her short story is modeled after Joe Brainard’s “I remember,” and begins each line of her piece with the phrase “I remember.” Perry agreed with Slack saying that the issue is a special opportunity to lift others up.
“I think this issue of RAM is super cool because it’s very specific for highlighting usually marginalized groups,” Perry said.
According to Perry, writing is a fantastic way to work through emotions, and many of these marginalized community members turn to writing to work through their emotions like Perry did through her piece.
“It was, one of those pieces where I was trying to process my own emotions,” Perry said. “[My piece] was basically just me trying to process my own identity, as well as, how that affects the world around me and my own experiences.”
RAM Art Editor Jennifer Hernandez-Argueta, sophomore, included her Hispanic roots while developing the diverse world of Berry on the issue’s cover. The cover is based on artist Mary Blair’s concept work for Disney’s theme park ride “It’s a Small World.”
“I’m Hispanic, my parents are from El Salvador and I thought it was important to include that heritage,” Hernandez-Argueta said. “So, on the front cover you’ll see this little girl dressed in Salvadoran folk wear.”
When creating the cover art for this issue, Hernandez-Argueta wanted all six inhabitable continents to be represented by the Berry students on the cover. She also wanted to ensure that the students would contrast heavily with the background to draw the attention of the audience to the students.
“‘This place has diversity;’ that was like the overall theme, for the front cover,” Hernandez-Argueta said. “Diversity is considered beautiful, so I want to be able to show that as accurately as possible.”
Senior Sam Warner, who has two pieces published in Diversity Issue, emphasized that students at Berry do come from different places, even if it is not from continentally different places.
“Even at a school like Berry, people are coming from very different places and I’m really excited that we’re honoring that and celebrating that,” Warner said.
Ramifications published Warner’s art “Emergence” and her poem “you might have a disability if…” She submitted several works to the Diversity Issue, and she almost did not submit “you might have a disability if…” due to its personal nature. However, she is now thankful that she submitted the work and that it was published.
“I sort of love that it’s published, even though it is very personal because it means that I can’t like backtrack,” Warner said. “I feel like this is a big moment of self-discovery and of getting more comfortable with myself and with my body. I’m very excited that that’s something other people get to share and be a part of now.”
Warner’s piece is extremely personal and many of the pieces in the Diversity Issue are an insight into an author or artist’s soul.
“There’s a lot of very personal art and really people just pouring out their souls in this issue of Ram, and I think it’s so special that everyone gets to be part of that,” Warner said.
According to Slack, she loved each piece because everyone was so vulnerable and willing to share their stories, which she greatly appreciated.
“In my editor’s note, I made sure to thank everyone because [submitting pieces] can be hard really and truly, and I was so glad that so many of them trusted us,” Slack said.
Through Warner’s time at Berry, she has seen student’s voices grow. She recounted that in 2017 she would not have believed a Black Lives Matter protest would have happened at Berry, or that the school’s literary magazine would publish poems about gender dysphoria. However, she is impressed with how much the Berry community has developed.
“I really love this issue of RAM, and I think that it’s really timely because I think it’s tapping into this growth in this movement that’s happening at Berry right now,” Warner said. “Students are getting comfortable being seen and making their voices heard and I’m just really, really excited about that.”
Slack said that even though it is easy to become close-minded and to only see yourself, she hopes the Diversity Issue encourages people to open their minds and learn more about diverse communities.
“If [students] weren’t raised to learn about [diverse communities], I hope that they can start to learn and start to broaden their mindset and eventually become more compassionate and caring for people that are different from them,” Slack said. “There is more out there than yourself. It’s nice to see other people and to learn new things.”