When you open a general e-mail and then leave it open for people to submit their personal stories, you don’t know what to expect. In fact, the ViBe Story Exchange team wondered one evening – over glasses of wine and cauliflower soup at Esoteric – if anyone would submit a story at all.
But stories came in: slowly at first, and then suddenly in a swell.
Last month, at ViBe Story Exchange No. 1, the stories were distributed to Hampton-based artist Asa Jackson of 670 Gallery, and he turned their stories into paintings. This month, Felix Schlater a Virginia-based illustrator, photographer and graphic designer (and self-proclaimed dabbler), will turn stories into photography and illustrated images.
“I’ve always been a big fan of story and the chance to interpret someone else’s story is very exciting,” Schlater said. “I look forward to seeing the author’s reactions and hope that I can do their words justice.”
One of the stories was written by a 5th grader from Fairfield Elementary School. Her story was about her loss of a dear stuffed-animal friend, Pooky.
“I may be ten, but I think you probably have a stuffed animal somewhere so you understand,” she wrote. “You might also think that the age ten is too old to have a stuffed animal. I had Pooky since I turned one. It was my very first birthday present.”
Pooky was lost during a family move. “Ever since I lost Pooky I have been having dreams of her hiding in my closet… When I was four or five I would get Pooky and my other stuffed animals and play tea party.”
Fairfield Elementary School was so proud of their young writer that they reported to the entire school on the morning announcements that her story was chosen.
Another story tells of one woman’s adventure to a leprosy colony in Hawaii.
“For over a year I was torn between facing my fears and wanting to embark on this adventure of a lifetime,” author Elizabeth Oliverio wrote in her story. She wrote of the stress and strain it took for the mule to carry her weight down the mountain. “The twenty six switchbacks required precise navigation during which the mules had to carefully maneuver their feet in tight configurations as if to bend their midsections to fit into the tight curves.”
By the end of Oliverio’s adventure, “I had developed a new confidence and self-assurance that I would henceforth be able to face any future challenges, regardless of difficulty, without fear or intimidation,” she wrote.
These stories – and ViBe Story Exchange – are about overcoming challenges through connection and through art. Experiences become stories become art. This is how we pass down our knowledge, our feelings, and our thoughts.
At each ViBe Story Exchange, there is an interactive component: a chance for you to share your experiences, creativity and words. This Saturday is Write-A-Letter, Take-A-Letter.
“We all need a happy power-up from a friend or a stranger,” ViBe Story Exchange team member, Jennifer Chapman said. “The goal is to have people sharing their tips for a joyful life. How you pick yourself up when you feel low? How you live wholeheartedly? After you’re done writing, stick it in an envelope and stick it to the wall. Then, take a letter of anonymous happy advice for yourself!”
ViBe Story Exchange team calls these interactive components “happiness power-ups.” Want to share and receive a happiness power-up? Curious about what happens to Pooky the stuffed animal and Oliverio once she makes it down the mountain? The event is free and open to the public and for all ages. Food provided by Croc’s 19th Street Bistro. Any donations collected go to the artist.
ViBe Story Exchange No. 2 at Flo Pilates | 616 Virginia Beach Boulevard | Noon – 4:00 PM | ViBe Creative District | @vibestories | #ViBeStoryExchange
CALL FOR STORIES: ViBe Story Exchange accepts stories year-round to be turned into art! E-mail your story today: firstname.lastname@example.org