lyra hill

On Brain Frame

Brain Frame is over.

The “joke” was that last night’s Brain Frame 19 Grand Finale was a funeral. But only one moment carried the funereal vibe—an extended dirge by Tyson Torstenson right before Lyra Hill reemerged from the curtain bathed in golden chains and sunglasses that shouted “deal with it” to the heavens.

For three years, Brain Frame has been a mainstay of first a gathering of friends, then a gathering of friends and cartoonists, then a gathering of friends, cartoonists and artists, then a gathering of friends, cartoonists, artists, and everyone else. Brain Frame was a monument to passion, to creativity, to drive and focus and beauty and the grotesque and light and darkness and love and hate and the idea that if you think of something, anything— you could make it happen.

Last night I performed a piece entitled “This Is Not That” with my (what, my everything? sure, that sounds about right) Emily Hutchings. It dealt with bodies and placement and dysphoria and confidently asked questions in the back (or very much the front) of everyone’s mind. It was a deeply personal piece for the both of us, we opened up each other’s hearts and minds and let a few hundred people into our most personal thoughts.

But never once did we worry about that openness, that vulnerability. Because Brain Frame was always a safe, open place where judgement and ridicule were always off the table. Chicago is not a safe place. It is not an open place. It is a place ruled by money and corruption where art is shat upon and anyone not fortunate enough to be a conniving rich psychopath hell-bent on ruining the lives of those “beneath” him is outcast. .

And for three years, Brain Frame was there for us to forget all that. It carried on, drowning out the hostile background noise with laughter and tears and wonder and absolute joy. When thinking about our piece today, I realized that I’d taken Brain Frame’s safe place for granted. Which is lovely, in it’s own way— that it would be so warm and open that I would forget that it was so unique in its warmth. 

I realize now that I will always have Brain Frame in my mind. No matter what else I do in live, I will look back on these three years and remember those nights with awe and love and deep, deep gratitude and I will never take it for granted again. 

Lyra Hill gave us a place where we could all be our honest selves, no matter who or what that self was, and harbor no fear.

For that I will always be grateful.

Brain Frame Forever.