Artist’s Portfolio: Larissa Barnat

Found below is a collection of stunning art from Larissa Barnat, a Lewis University student we’re incredibly happy to feature here. The series, entitled “Disorientation,” effectively shows off her vast talent. We’ve interlaced Larissa’s bio and process piece between the ten hand-picked oil paintings we’ve highlighted in this post. See for yourself the wonderful artistry of this young talent.

Larissa Barnat
Larissa Barnat

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Artist’s Portfolio: Alex Turner

Found below is a collection of intriguing and enveloping paintings by Lewis University student Alex Turner. We’re ecstatic to feature his nine paintings, which we’ve interspersed throughout this post along with Turner’s bio and process piece.
Discover for yourself the awesome work of this young artist.

Alex Turner
Alex Turner

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Artist’s Portfolio: Mervyn John

Found below is a collection of the vibrant, brilliant photography of Mervyn John, a Lewis University student we’re incredibly happy to feature here. We’ve interlaced John’s bio and process piece between the eight hand-picked photographs we’ve highlighted in this post. See for yourself the stunning artistry of this young talent.

Mervyn John
Mervyn John

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Student Feature: Two Reflections on the Cinematic Masterpiece, “City of God”

Below are two student’s perspectives on the 2002 film City of God.

Reno Stramaglia

Fernando Meirelles’ 2002 film, City of God, is a work of art that is full of realistic depictions of the violence and drama associated with the impoverished favelas in Cidade de Deus during the 1970s. By utilizing the viewpoint of a young photographer (known as “Rocket”), this film immerses the audience within a story that needed to be told.

Based on a true story, Rocket experiences how the early influence of “Robin Hood-like” gangsters caused the growth of dark lawlessness and corruption within this Brazilian city. Although his peers and older brother, Goose, surrender to criminal activity in order to survive, Rocket struggles to avoid these temptations of misdeed. It is the sociopath, Li’l Zé, who leads the mayhem of murder and crime that takes place within the neighborhood. This film utilizes a wide variety of unique cinematographic techniques in order to convey the truth behind the activities of these gangsters.

Meirelles’ use of fast editing within the film helps to display the true nature of Rocket’s environment. From shot to shot, events happen in a fast-paced manner. Cutting to different depictions of violence within a small amount of time causes the audience to fully experience the chaotic environment. Life is hectic and stressful within these slums. Meirelles utilizes classical cutting in order to help the audience to understand this different way of living. In addition, music in this film acts in a similar manner. The fast rhythm suits the rapid depictions of action within the slums. The choice of music also acts to paint a picture of the Brazilian culture while providing the film with surge of energy to keep the audience on their feet.

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Selections from Samantha Gennett’s chapbook, “Pomegranate”

Cover to Sam Gennett's chapbook, "Pomegranate"
Inside cover to Sam Gennett’s chapbook, “Pomegranate”

The following three poems were hand-picked by Samantha Gennett, showcasing the talent found in her recent chapbook, Pomegranate.


We sit together, you reclined and I upright, enveloped
by the nicotine you transmit. As you inhale, I stare at the orange
glow at your cigarette end. You look at me with a telescopic
grin, shaking your head, not even noticing the ash singeing

a hole through your Nirvana t-shirt, hair resembling elephant eyelashes,
lips shining pizza grease and I cannot think of a way to rewire
your melancholy or find a way to sew a mustache
onto your numb smile. This smoke, strangling our throats—is there a fire?

We sit together in this chain-smoked cloud, I underhand
toss you an aging baseball but your hand cannot render
the shape of catch, instead your body lays contorted like an ampersand
and all I can do is mumble “it’s okay, you’re okay” tenderly.

I have never seen anything less photogenic:
foam bubbles out of your mouth, white as pith of pomegranate.

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Selections from Rachel Steele’s chapbook, “Plain-Hearted”

The cover of Rachel Steele’s chapbook, “Plain-Hearted”

“Throughout Rachel Steele’s collection, ‘Plain-Hearted,’ not everything is absolutely how it seems. Being overwhelmed by the unexpected is an experience repeated in both her fiction pieces like ‘Three False Beginnings to an Incomplete Story’ and ‘Flurries,’ as well as her poems such as ‘Dear Olive’ and ‘Media Mutters: A Glosa.’ While Steele twists perspectives to create thundering shocks, she is continuously surprising us with her straightforward, albeit mysterious voice, and her use of transformative metaphors.

These are elements you confront as Steele stirs her synthetic realities into chaos, such as with her short fiction ‘Flurries.’ She sets up an average apartment, where an ordinary man kills time between shifts. Before he’s off to his next job, he visits this apartment simply to unwind with his precious baby girl, a Great Dane. Steele goes on to illustrate the lives of the other tenants, giving us brief descriptions to capture their dreams and their flaws. She subtly uses this ‘capturing of the mundane’ to distract her audience into a sense of comfort and personal connection before she suddenly rips the entire second floor into oblivion with an inexplicable explosion, and we’re left in a scene of debris colliding with the Chicago winter. What makes the entire piece so extraordinary is how extremely relatable everything feels, so that even the unpredictable is tangible, making the collapse even more devastating.

Just when the reader feels assured they know exactly what’s happening, they’re launched into a catastrophe. Just as with ‘Flurries,’ you never know what to expect with her piece ‘Three False Beginnings to an Incomplete Story.’ It is written as a three-part nanofiction, revealing each character through their unlikely actions. The first story delves into the crisis of a family trying to regain control after a burglary. The two items the naïve thief has claimed are couch cushions and a seemingly innocent Louis Vuitton purse. Like a defensive mother, the child narrator begins ‘sprinting with a steak knife and wearing periwinkle elephant slippers.’ This is when the readers learn that this child is not running after useless items, but the remains of their dead mother, now ash stored in her once favorite purse, closing with a smack of the line, ‘We burned her, we keep her. Those are the rules.’

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Selections from Jess Jordan’s chapbook, “Senioritis”

The cover to Jess Jordan's chapbook, "Senioritis"
The cover to Jess Jordan’s chapbook, “Senioritis”

“Jessica Jordan’s poetry explores the dark nature of humanity, as well as the commonality between human instinct and animal instinct. Jordan navigates through several diverse topics rotating around the popular topics humanity discusses, including the existence of god or gods, life in a small town, zombies, and the complex meaning of tattoos.

Jordan exposes the undertones of humanity while crafting beautiful images through the use of the senses, as in her poem ‘June 12, 2010.’ Jordan’s poem is written in the form of a cento, in which Jordan stitches together lines from other writers to show the spectrum of human cruelty as the poem discusses rape and the violation of such a horrendous act.

‘I did not die – the bile of desolation in every pore.’ These closing lines of ‘June 12, 2010’ shows the violation and despair that is left in the wake of abuse, leaving the reader, like the speaker, with the knowledge of violation but with the simple fact that the speaker of the poem did not die. Jordan makes apparent the desolation the speaker is feeling by saying, ‘A piece of burned meat wears my clothes, speaks in my voice.’ This is a striking image that shows the reader the complete despair the speaker is feeling, but also this cold detachment of being ‘burned meat.’

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