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The Mirrorball

Collins, Ashley (2022) The Mirrorball. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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The Mirrorball is a multimedia collection of short stories, personal essays, images, and original music. The collection reflects me, one that reveals my fears, joy, and all the intricacies of life in between. It was important to me that I gave myself entirely to this collection, so that it may reflect me the best way that it possibly could. Alongside my essays, each of the fictional women within the short stories is presented as their own mirrorball in some way, shape, or form. The collection intends to represent experiences that come with being the The Mirrorball through the lens of a woman, and specifically as a black woman. The collection emphasizes this ongoing need to hide, strategize and play the part so that I may have some sort of seat at the table. Each piece in the collection invites a different outlook on being the ideal— or better yet, what it means to be the The Mirrorball. Most of the collection was written in a season of depression, a season unbeknownst to me until I was at the very end of it. It is joyous and sad and raw, all feelings I experienced when these stories were written. It intends to follow women from all walks of life who come to face demons, whether they belong to them or others. I divided The Mirrorball into three parts in hopes that the intention of each part would represent the most meaningful themes during my hard season. Each part finishes with an original song to encapsulate a progression of the healing that I endured while writing the collection. The songs share the same sounds and are ultimately imperfect; there are street noises, piano-key thumping, missed notes, and awkward slip-ups. These are all things that I honestly struggled to include in the collection. But the music is intended to showcase a vulnerable side to The Mirrorball; it's what makes the collection come to life for me. Then there are the three parts themselves. In Part One, the focus concerns itself with some level of invisibility, whether purposeful or not; the women are ignored, hidden, or silent in some way; they are not truly seen. Part One represents a time in my life when I was existing; I was visible but never truly seen. In Part Two, the women progress from being hidden to being exposed. Black women are often mistreated and are the least protected in regards to emotional and physical dangers. The women in Part Two are raw and call for protection in ways that they aren’t afforded repeatedly; the hope and desire are that black women may be understood and seen as women who deserve protection. They represent the pain I’ve carried and the hope that black women will be cared for and loved on, just as we deserve. Finally, Part Three represents the idea that black women can be free to be exactly who they are; the women are no longer bound to the invisibility or the unforeseen consequences of not being protected. They are free to embrace whomever they may or may not be. In this way, it represents a healing version of myself, one that is unafraid of the goodness that is meant for me. Overall, I hope the collection engages its readers visually and audibly so that they may experience new perspectives and ways of understanding. The Mirrorball serves as a letter to society to consider the black woman’s struggle against the harmful limitations and expectations they have to work through before they can just be. It is a reminder of the season that taught me, shaped me, and forced me to address challenging spaces so that I might heal. And more importantly, it is a reminder that I can be more than The Mirrorball; that I can explore the pieces of myself that go beyond the ideals and expectations that were placed on me before I had a chance to choose differently.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Women authors, Black; Short stories, American; Essays;
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Arts and Letters > English
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2022 17:41
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2022 17:41
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5861

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