Grief, connection and "the beautiful terrible”

by Kelsey Hinesley
featured image:Grief, connection and "the beautiful terrible”


Grief, connection and "the beautiful terrible”


ASU Library Communications and Donor Relations


ASU Library

Submission by

Kelsey Hinesley

Project Lead

Amy Carolyn Watson / Design Strategist


Jennifer Duvernay, Executive Direction Britt Lewis, Creative Direction/Writer Kelsey Hinesley, Graphic Design, Illustration, Photography Jordyn Kush, ​​​​​​​User Experience Consult Patricia Odle, Project Contributor Kristen Johnson, Project Contributor Christina Peck, Project Contributor

2020 was no ordinary year. The question of how to maintain the ASU Library’s connection, during this challenging period, with its patrons, donors and fellow members of our university community became the driver of our 2020 holiday card, which extended a simple message of hope and togetherness at the beginning of a new year.

Appropriately acknowledging the collective grief of our community led us to the work of Mojave American poet Natalie Diaz, winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize and the director of Arizona State University’s Center for Imagination in the Borderlands. The final poem in Diaz’s award-winning collection was selected to inform the card’s messaging and inspire its design. The poem centers on the experience of grief, what Diaz likes to call the beautiful terrible – “a wound that opens you but also shows you the miracles of what is inside you,” she writes. “Rather than try to escape my griefs, I’m trying to recognize them as a wildness I can submerge myself in, to be washed clean by the very thing that aches me so deeply.”

The card achieved the ASU Library’s goal of significantly engaging our university community, as various community members publicly commended the card’s championing of Diaz’s poetry, her Indigenous voice and the right message at the right time. “ASU Library always has the best holiday cards,” wrote one community member. One professor at ASU went as far as to upcycle the card by transforming it into a postcard that she then sent to a friend. The message of the card is intended as a tender call for togetherness – a collective embrace as we move through our river of grief, together as a community.

Featured Image of: Kelsey Hinesley

Kelsey Hinesley

I think we as a design community have been re-learning who we are and who we will like to be. There are many of us who're dealing with burn out and stress. There are many who have been affected by 2020; but we're still here and we're still moving. It doesn't matter if some of us move to the side or forward– we're still moving.

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