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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Oxford Emory chapter.

Maria Yates, who goes by the moniker of TendHer, made very interesting parallels between death and her art in her showcase, “April Days and Other Hopeful Catastrophes”. Maria lives in the Bay Area and is a part of a traveling band. She belonged to a community of artists who lived and performed in a reclaimed Oakland warehouse. These artists organized community events and parties for which they would charge entrance fees to raise money for their rent. Maria lost over a dozen close friends in the December 2016 fire and was very affected by the devastating loss. From the fire came a rebirth, she explained feeling more connected to her true self and feeling her friend’s presence even in their absence.

            The piece she played “April Days and Other Hopeful Catastrophes” was partially improvised, partially scripted and featured a video accompaniment to the live music performance. She had multiple beat making machines and seemed to be very passionate about making music. The video she played evoked nostalgic feelings of a better, simpler past with its long shots of beautiful landscapes and close-ups of goldfish in an aquarium. Maria played the piece in memory of the friends she lost. At the end of the performance, she explained that although the fire was a tragedy, she wanted her friends to be remembered in a positive light and for the music set to have an uplifting and positive feeling. Maria also shared what life is like on the road while on tour. She described it as a tiring cycle of driving long hours, having to set up heavy equipment, and not knowing where she was going to sleep at night. She said some nights they had a gracious host, but other nights her and her band mates were forced to camp. The entire set was a sort of psychedelic experience. It really allowed time for me to self-reflect during and otherwise stressful week.

            Maria Yates is admirable because she is so obviously driven by her passion instead of financial gain. She expresses her creativity in many different ways and shares her artistic vision with the world through her music, hand made “zines” and other artistic endeavors.  I truly believe most students in the audience thoroughly enjoyed Maria’s performance. She incorporated an interactive element when she passed out yellow post-its with uplifting messages, my post it said “tell a friend you love them”. I really took that message to heart and reached out to friends I hadn’t talked to in a while. I think the Oxford College Community greatly benefited from Maria’s performance. I think the college should make a bigger effort to invite underground artists of all kinds, like Maria, for students to experiment with alternative careers and outlets for creative passion. Although I initially attended as part of a class assignment, I am happy with what I took away from the performance. I learned to appreciate life a little more and to be more grateful for the friends that have helped mold me into the person I am today. Although I deeply feel for Maria and her loss, I am happy she has channeled her grief into a creative project that will surely touch many people. I do not doubt that more than one Oxford student was greatly touched by this genuine and raw performance.


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Jordan Chapman

Oxford Emory

Jordan Chapman is a visual art and international studies major with a French minor at Emory University. As a second year student, she's incredibly busy, but when you add jetsetting and writing a blog (in addition to a Youtube channel), her life is more busy than you may think. When she isn't watching Stranger Things or writing blog posts, she's in class or sending emails, with the dream of being the next big editor or fashion blogger. As a future London expat and wanderlust victim, she visits the land across the pond quite frequently along with many other places in Europe frequently, just hoping that life will take her somewhere fun and exciting.