Visual arts editor Amanda Manitach opened a new exhibition of her own works on paper, Dirty, at Winston Wächter last month. The show runs through Jan. 10. Photo by Linda Derschang

This issue contains two annual City Arts traditions: Our Artists of the Year illustration, painted for the first time by Kelly Björk in her vibrant signature style, and our special December collection of creative writing and visual art, which this year takes the theme of “light.”

Sometimes themes are elusive and hard to pick; not this year. Seasonal festivals of light aside (truly, there are exactly zero holiday vibes in the collection), we’re all clearly in need of an antidote to the darkness we’ve endured throughout this bonkers, confusing, distressing year. So, we invited seven contributing writers and artists to let the light in—and they responded by surrounding the idea with beautiful insights we never saw coming.

Not only has it been a wild year in general, it’s been a bizarre and challenging time to exist at the intersection of journalism and the arts. But, thanks to all of you, we’re still here, illuminating the brilliance all around us.

See you out there,

Editor in Chief