Response 1 – Mystory (3.1)

By Bill Macauley

One of the ways that multimedia projects such as Cecelia’s work so well is in their ability to represent the fragmented nature of the human condition. It is wonderful when we can find themes that carry through our experiences and thoughts, as Cecelia has, because those themes help us to not necessarily bring together all of the moving parts of our lives but to bring some larger meaning to those bits and pieces of everyday life.

Just as Cecelia has brought together images, music, and narration to make a coherent and resonant Mystory collage, she brought together her own symbols with the emblem for the Rocking J Ranch and the values that her grandparents and parents brought to her that now sustain her after most of them have passed.

Cecelia’s love of horses created a coherence that touched so many elements of her life, and she conveyed that coherence successfully. It is clear that her family created an environment of love and support that have enabled Cecilia to excel; it is also clear that her love of horses has been a consistent vehicle by which she could enjoy that security as well as excel and go places she might not have gone without them.

Hannah Arendt is credited with saying, “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” In this way, Cecelia’s piece might be frustrating for a viewer seeking linearity, claims and evidence, clear conclusions. Meanwhile, one of the most rewarding features of a composition such as this one is that the author has shown so much confidence in the viewer’s ability to make meaning. The town, the career goals, the family, the Oklahoma ranch are clearly parts of a story that Cecelia is living, even while she is entrusting the viewer to fill in the gaps, to understand her experiences but also create his or her own meaning.

So, Cecelia’s Mystory collage could be dismissed by some as leaving too much to chance, but that is its greatest virtue, in my opinion. Just as Cecelia has built from her experiences with her family, so too has she built from her love of horses. In much the same way, Cecilia’s composition has left the viewer to build from the foundations she has provided. Instead of telling us or showing us how to bring the ideas together, she has provided us with an opportunity to experience firsthand the process of building from these snippets of her life. Cecelia Jones has invited us to make meaning with her and for ourselves and, in doing so, has avoided the error of defining it.