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Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Healing Through Art: “Three Tales from Broken Men” by Draconian Rubin Onyx

Junior+student+Draconian+Rubin+Onyx+presented+his+three-set+illustration+series+titled+%E2%80%9CThree+Tales+from+Broken+Men%E2%80%9D+through+a%0Areception+in+Weber+Gallery+on+Nov.+10.+Over+%241%2C000+was+raised+for%0AThe+Father+Project+through+Family+Service+Rochester.
Heidi Hanson
Junior student Draconian Rubin Onyx presented his three-set illustration series titled “Three Tales from Broken Men” through a reception in Weber Gallery on Nov. 10. Over $1,000 was raised for The Father Project through Family Service Rochester.

In a combination of art pieces, creative writing, and personal connection, Draconian Rubin Onyx, a Junior at Winona State University, presented his beautiful and harrowing exhibit “Three Tales from Broken Men” in the Weber Gallery in Watkins Hall. The exhibit is showing until Nov. 17 in the Weber Gallery and is free for students and community members to view. A reception was held on Nov. 10 in the Weber Gallery to introduce and discuss the exhibit curated almost entirely by Onyx himself.

The exhibit is composed of 42 art pieces divided into three separate illustration series about three distinct men, all experiencing some form of trauma. Each of the men, Joseph, Lucien and Alex, have their own fully fleshed backstories and paths to healing, and question how trauma interacts with gender identity.

“I wanted to see men that are vulnerable, because in media so often, they are attributed to the more stoic emotions, right?” Onyx said. “Like anger… maybe a single tear, if you’re lucky.”

Healing, a concept well known by many people, is not necessarily well portrayed in the media. It’s difficult to find a realistic portrayal of the struggles that come with healing from past traumas, and the inability for those traumas to completely disappear. Onyx hoped to provide a representation of healing that wasn’t too graphic to be consumed but still acknowledged the realistic processes of recovery.

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“I think what [the exhibit] means is healing but from a realistic way, like, how do you realistically heal from the unhealable? And the answer is, you don’t; but the answer is also, you just got to do it,” Onyx stated. “You just got to take it day by day.”

Onyx has been drawing every day for the past seven years, which he said was “the coolest thing he had done” before the exhibit. Three years of these drawings are displayed on his Instagram, @Brighttusk, and elements of “Three Tales from Broken Men” are seen throughout the page. Drawing every day for the last seven years has been something to keep Onyx going, and to give him something every day to look forward to.

“If I needed a reason to keep going, my reason was ‘I can’t go, I have another drawing to do,’” Onyx said.

The constantly refined drawings of each character began to create the potential for a story, which then became the three tales through more refining, editing and then refining some more. Each piece’s medium is a pilot G2 ballpoint pen and alcohol markers, which were then digitized and edited for the final projects in the gallery.

Onyx partnered with Olmstead County’s “The Father Project” through Family Service Rochester to fundraise and raise awareness about fathers in need of emotional or economic assistance. According to the Family Service Rochester Website, the Father Project helps “Fathers receive intensive case management services and career development services providing access to supports and resources.”

Being a former foster child, Onyx is the first foster child to even propose a fundraising opportunity with the Father Project.

“I want to give back to my people who helped me,” Onyx stated. “I guess in that sense, it’s kind of quite an uplifting story, right? There’s one foster kid that not only, you know, didn’t do all of the things that foster children really do, but that one step further to fundraise for and get money back. And I’m proud of that. I want to do something good.”

Jo Robins, a Father Project case manager, came to the exhibit reception on Nov. 10 to provide more information about the Father Project and what it stands for. For instance, FATHER stands for “Fostering Action To Help Earnings and Responsibility,” and the Father Projects works with Fathers to support them in a three-pillar approach, which includes case management services, career navigation and parenting groups.

“They come to us, they’re seeking just connection with their children to emotionally support them [or] financially support them; whatever their individual stories are, they bring those to us,” Robins stated. “They share them and then we provide [the] three pillar approach.”

At the reception, Onyx shared his story of being a former foster child, and then the information he received in February of this year that lit the flame behind “Three Tales from Broken Men” and the creation of such. “I didn’t know what [the exhibit] would be until February, the same month I received the results from the DNA test that told me the identity of my father,” Onyx stated at the event.

“This told me that the man I’ve always wanted to meet had been dead for 13 years.” The exhibit reception raised over $1,000 for The Father Projectthrough a silent auction of a selection of Onyx’s works. To donate to The Father Project, go to the Family Service Rochester Website and click “Donate” or visit www. familyservicerochester.org/donate. To purchase books of the illustrative series created by Onyx, you can direct message him on his Instagram @Brighttusk. Through the grief that Onyx didn’t know where to place, he created the three stories of a husband, a gambler and a martyr; although he wasn’t able to relate to every part of their specific stories, he was able to relate to their feelings of being broken, and the unchangeable healing processes that come with grief.

“I’ll never even know if my father was a good man,” Onyx stated. “But I can help other fathers be the best men for their children.”

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About the Contributor
Heidi Hanson, Features Editor

Heidi Hanson (she/her/hers) is the Features Editor for the Winonan as of fall 2022. She joined the Winonan during her first semester at WSU, back in fall of 2021. Hanson is currently a third year at Winona State University, majoring in Communication Arts and Literature Teaching with a minor in Communication Studies Teaching.

Besides writing for the Winonan, Hanson is a Resident Assistant at the East Lake Apartments and is a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH). She also works as a research assistant for the Communications Department.

For fun, Hanson enjoys reading mystery novels, watching horror movies, and enjoying music from all genres. She also enjoys journaling and exploring the surrounding area of Winona.

Hanson hopes to be a middle or high school English teacher after graduation to spread her love of literature and provide a safe space for future students who go through her English Literature classroom. Before that, however, she hopes to have a fulfilled four years at WSU and grow through work and social experiences.

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