“There is one thing that I have found through my experiences.
When you fall apart, you have to find a way to pick up the pieces and carry on. The pieces never seem to fit together the same way but you end up with something brand new.”
- Opal Mclean
It is with very heavy hearts that we must share that, on July 19th, 2023, Opal Mclean was involved in an accident and passed away. There are not enough words in the world that could capture, that could truly express the loss of Opal. In our greatest attempt, we want to begin by telling you what she was proud of.
She was proud of her art degree, she was proud of the art she made, she was proud of her job at the Surrey art gallery. She was proud of her friendships, she was proud when she could make you crack a smile, she was proud when she was able to get those around her just as excited as she was, she was proud when all you could hear was her, she was proud when she pointed something out you'd like in a store. She was proud of working with artists, she was proud of making a difference in the community, she was proud of having days to rest. She was proud of being less than a half hour late, she was proud of her starbucks order, she was proud of the magazine, she was proud when she looked at art, she was proud to show off cool trinkets she had collected. She was proud of laughing, she was proud of speaking her mind, she was proud of where she was, she was proud of how far she'd come, she was proud when she created, she was proud when she finished something, she was proud of who she was and who she hoped to be.
Opal was a founding member and editor of our online arts magazine Withintensions. Every word that passed through our issues were reviewed by her eyes - if you ever emailed us, it is likely you spoke with her. It is impossible to describe the major role Opal took up not only in our organisation but in our lives. Withintensions was founded in 2019 by three friends who were simply trying to create an accessible arts space after graduating from SFU, Opal tied us together and helped form the ethos that we still carry on to this day. Opal was also a wonderful artist. Her work focused on her relationship with her mental health, often expressed through whimsical forms such as her dancing videos and her recent series of mutilated selfies. Her writings expressed her inner thoughts processed through memories, poetics, and musings. In her artist statement, Opal described herself as the "selfish artist", but anyone who has ever had the pleasure of collaborating with her knows that she always brought so much generosity to the process of creating. Opal, above all, was an irreplaceable part of our lives and her impact on us is something we will always carry with us.
For the month of August, we have decided to put a pause on our regular submission schedule and instead we will be inviting those who had the joy of knowing Opal to share and celebrate her life through stories and reflections on her art. This is not an open call, and we will be reaching out to those we know would want to share their memories of Opal. We hope that we may be able to find all the right words to honourably memorialise the experience of knowing her, that we may be able to capture the exuberance of her being. But of course, for anyone who knew her, you know that no words could truly capture Opal.
Opal will be missed greatly, her vibrance lives on through her art, through the magazine, and through her friendships.