Chris Kabacinski shares his Art [Hi]Story!
Meet Christopher Kabacinski, one of the talented students to receive a 2016 Arts Council Student Art Award recognizing his merit in English. Chris is a member of the BC class of 2016 majoring in English and Medical Humanities in the MCAS and has worked, founded, and managed several BC publications. He was first involved with Stylus during his freshman and sophomore years, where he bonded with other members over their passion for creative writing and art.
What has participating in the arts meant to you during your time at BC?
Engaging with students and faculty in the arts has been one of my greatest joys at Boston College. There is boundless creativity here on campus, and I feel so lucky to have had so many enduring conversations and positive experiences with individuals in the arts. Part of my work with the Medical Humanities Journal stems from a belief that creative representation can breathe life into and illuminate topics and issues that are often restricted to the realm of, say, the natural or social sciences. What art can do is reflect the singularity of experience and expression. In the case of medical humanities, health, illness, and the body are our central focuses. For as odd as it may seem, these intimate and familiar experiences of embodiment are the ones most difficult to articulate and represent. I am so lucky to have engaged with so many artists on campus working with these issues, and I am grateful to have helped carve out a space for this kind of work.
What is your most memorable arts experience and what did you learn from it?
Selecting the pieces for our first issue of the Medical Humanities Journal. The day after the Valentine’s Day snowstorm of 2015, 20 of us—from different disciplines and different years—all trudged over to 10 Stone Ave. and spent hours debating what would make it into the journal. First, we were overwhelmed by (and felt so grateful for) the number of submissions. Second, seeing students so animated and so interested in the work of students on campus made that arduous process all the more worth it. I still smile when I think about that day and our launch party months later, holding the first print copies of our journal and introducing it to the university and the Greater Boston community.
If you could give some advice to younger students about the arts at BC and beyond, what would it be?
I would tell students in the arts both to work to find your creative space on campus and to be open to happy accident. Finding that space is so important for achieving both fulfillment and inspiring personal (and, possibly, community) growth. Sometimes you might need to carve out your own space and start a venture all your own; just know there are students and faculty out there willing to help you find that place. It’s worth all the work. At the same time, appreciate the accidents and chances that help you grow along the way. The most unexpected things will open doors. Be grateful for those chance occurrences. Who would’ve known that a conversation outside of class during my sophomore year would have led to the creation of a new publication at BC?
How has your work in the arts informed your next steps after graduation?
My work with the Medical Humanities Journal and my admiration for the literature and art produced by students on campus have inspired me to pursue work in the publishing industry and the healthcare industry, with an eye towards philanthropy, storytelling, and social justice. Upon graduation, I intend to keep working with organizations like Health Story Collaborative, which aims to harness the healing power of storytelling, which often takes the form of creative writing or art.
Who or what inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by individuals who seek to put the most familiar, most difficult, and most singular experiences—say, health, illness, and the body—into words, images, music, or whatever expressive medium. Pain, as the scholar Elaine Scarry has noted, destroys language; at the same time, it inspires a drive towards representation. I am inspired by individuals working in pain, working to represent what seems unrepresentable. I am inspired by the individuals who have contributed personal essays and artwork to the Medical Humanities Journal, and I’m inspired by writers like Oliver Sacks and visual artists like Teva Harrison who aim to represent the experience of illness with honesty and insight.
The 2016 Art Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held on Friday April 29th, in the Stokes Art Tent at 3pm. The event is free and open to the public, with no registration necessary. The Awards Ceremony will be from 3-4pm, and a reception with hors d’oeuvres and drinks will follow shortly from 4-5pm. See you there!