My name is Derek Hopkins. I am enrolled as an undergraduate at Columbia College Chicago in the Creative Writing program and I am taking classes as a Student-At-Large at Northwestern University. I am a passionate writer. My art is centered on exploring the human condition and the societal reality of America. I expound on American axioms such as Racism, Classism, Sexism, White Oppression and Privilege and their relation to the human experience. I approach every day with grace for it is a new opportunity to grow and learn. I am endeavoring to master the craft of writing to provide a bold and new voice in contemporary society. I am currently writing a social novel about the contemporary American ghetto entitled “Orphaned to the Street”.
Contemporary Multimedia Artist Allen Vandever approached me to work on the “A Childhood Fractured” project. We met working on another project. After noticing my ability to write, he pulled me aside one day and asked: Are you interested in working on this project with me? I agreed after he provided a brief outline of the project; paintings paired with short stories. The following day we had a meeting. I was in the dark and had no idea what to expect. At this meeting, he went on to explain that he was sexually abused as a child in the most horrific manner and that he wanted to reconstruct these experiences through painting and storytelling. I was shocked by Allen’s bravery and courage. Profound emotions swelled inside of me. I was hurled into a brief moment of self-absorption while maintaining a poised exterior. I was also sexually abused as a child. I have really failed to mention it to anyone throughout my life. It has been one of my darkest secrets. A secret I thought will never be unearthed and will go with me to the grave. Throughout my life, if anyone so much as mentioned “sexual abuse”, a cold shrill would crawl up and down my spine and I would spiral deep into my own mind. I was scared. I thought the healthiest solution was to repress my experience in hopes that it will go away. It was not going away; it was corroding me from this inside. So I told him about my about my sexual abuse. I felt compelled to do so in the most positive manner. In the moment those words left my mouth, I felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I felt as though I could breathe again. As if I could stand up straight and look people in the eye. Allen’s bravery to show the world what he has been through inspired me to do this same. And from that point forward we have been endeavoring to bring “A Childhood Fractured” to you.
Allen inspired me to tell my story and to bring “A Childhood Fractured” to life. This is a microcosm of what we want to accomplish with “A Childhood Fractured”. One person telling another person how they have been victimized and abused. And the intimate and powerful bond that ensues. The ability to take power back, to not feel ashamed and scared. To not live in isolation and find power in sharing your experiences with the world.