Art Feature: “Arby’s”, “Believe”, “Number 5”, “Italian Valve” by Gillian Collins



Gillian Collins earned her MFA at Towson University in 2019. As a co-owner of residential plumbing and HVAC service companies, her association with these trades artistically inspires Collins. By divorcing the form from the function of mechanical components, she compels the viewer to contemplate the “seen but the unseen” of our engineering feats.

Art Feature: “The Deceit of Illogical Numbers,” “The 20 Gauge Plasma Machine Blues,” “The Faces of Death Disintegrate Forever,” and “Destroying Everything One Brush Stroke at a Time” by Brett Stout

Brett Stout is a 40-year-old artist and writer. He is a high school dropout and former construction worker turned college graduate and paramedic. He creates mostly controversial work usually while breathing toxic paint fumes from a small cramped apartment known as “The Nerd Lab” in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His work has appeared in a vast range of diverse media, from international indie zines like Litro Magazine UK to Brown University. He is tired of talking about himself at this point and prefers that his artwork speak for itself.

Art Feature: “Sista Awa Oil on Cement” & “B-boy Oil on Canvas” by Mario Loprete

Mario Loprete, Catanzaro 1968 Graduate at Accademia of Belle Arti , Catanzaro (ITALY) Painting is for him the first love. An important, pure love. Creating a painting, starting from the spasmodic research of a concept with which he wants to send a message to transmit his message, it’s the base of his painting. The sculpture is his lover, the artistic betrayal to the painting. That voluptous and sensual lover that gives him different emotions, that touches prohibited cords…

Art Feature: “Click your Heels” by Jessica Lynne Furtado

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Jessica Lynne Furtado is a poet, photographer, & librarian. Her photography and micro-poem collages have appeared in CALYXMuzzle MagazinePANKPretty Owl Poetry, and Waxwing. Jessica’s writing can be found in aptDrunk Monkeys, HobartRogue Agent, and Stirring, among others. Visit her at


Seeking solace in art

By: Maria Asimopoulos, Fiction Editor

A few days ago, my best friend Krupa texted me to tell me she was taking a break from her usual streaming routine to revisit Divergent, a book and film that were huge when we were teenagers. I told her it was an excellent choice and that I’d been itching to rewatch The Hunger Games. “I just did that too,” she said. “It hits a little harder in these times.”

Years ago, at the start of my undergraduate English program, I sat at a cheap desk in my dorm studying for Spring semester finals. I had been at it for hours, flipping through PowerPoints and crafting notecards instead of sleeping (which is arguably what I should have been doing at 5 a.m.). I’m now a senior, but this moment came back to me today, April 19, at the start of my fifth week under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The contents of the notecards are the reason why.

In my hands were American literary movements from realism through postmodernism: time, space, history, and people, bundled up nicely into abbreviated bullet points and blue ink for me to study. I held literature’s reflection of the human condition in my hands, and I wondered what it looked like now, on that May morning in 2017. So I googled it.

Dystopian literature. A movement hadn’t been defined yet; critics went back and forth arguing whether we had moved beyond postmodernism to begin with, but a brave few suggested that dystopian fiction was our next stop on the literary wagon. Indeed, with booming franchises like Divergent and The Hunger Games so fresh in my memory, 18-year-old me could believe it. Authors were telling stories of environmental destruction, economic despair, and the collapse of society. With climate change and wealth inequality looming in the back of our collective consciousness (of course, these days I would argue that it’s more at the forefront), it is no wonder we had such a need for these stories.

And it’s no wonder that we feel such a powerful need to return to them now. Our economy is crumbling and, for many of us, the thought of participating in society makes us paranoid. We’ve become increasingly conscious of our bodies in relation to the world: the ways they function, their positioning around other people, the way we hold ourselves in grocery stores. We’re not being sorted into personality categories like characters in Divergent, nor are our children being rounded up to fight to the death as they are in The Hunger Games. But we are getting a front row seat to the exposure of vulnerabilities in our medical and financial infrastructures. We’re bearing witness to politicians’ blatant disregard for human life while we burn through our savings and apply desperately for unemployment that many will not receive. We’re video chatting with loved ones to express our condolences during funerals that have a mandated limit on how many people can mourn together. Dystopian.

In all the time we spend at home, art is more critical in our modern lives than ever. Movies and TV can distract us from endless hours spent indoors. Never before have I seen quite so many people posting music recommendations on their social media. We can finally find moments to get to the endless reading list, books that have been glaring at us from our shelves for weeks, begging us to take a break from our busy schedules and open them. We can spend this strange time panicking, or we can spend it immersed in other worlds and stories. Many of us are choosing the latter. 

If dystopian literature wasn’t where the bulk of critics thought we were moving a few years ago, perhaps it will be now. Brave New World has just re-entered my “to read” list on Goodreads. I’m going to keep on my vow to rewatch The Hunger Games—more than that, I’ve been itching to reread it, too, and I haven’t felt that urge about a YA novel since my mid-teens. 

These are unprecedented times. It often feels as though we have more to worry about than we ever thought we could handle. But when a virus cracks the world wide open, maybe literature is just the thing we need to begin to fill in the gaps.

Baltimore, I actually like it! By Natalie Jeffery

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The photo above was taken on West North Avenue in Baltimore City—right outside of Mondawmin. I was pursuing a photo series of the artist Iandry, a 2009 MICA graduate whose art decorates the city. He was painting the “Wall of Wisdom,” a mural which consists of six portraits of historical change makers: Frederick Douglass, Matthew Henson, Fanny Coppin, Robert W. Coleman, William S. Baer, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. I would travel into the city twice a week to document the progress of the mural—an experience that was never dull. Each visit, I would watch Iandry encourage community members to get involved in the painting process. Passersby would be given a few simple instructions, and minutes later they were a part of this beautiful masterpiece. He would receive kind words flying out of car windows, gracious thank-you’s from those walking down the street, and an overall approval from the community. I remember him saying once that art doesn’t change people, but it can inspire people to make the changes they want for themselves.

Baltimore City, often considered to be a not-so-nice place by outsiders and even some insiders, holds a lot of beauty in my eyes. My love for the city was planted my junior year of high school when I began working at a restaurant in Federal Hill. Before anyone calls me out, being exposed to this one type of neighborhood didn’t allow me to truly claim love for the city yet. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, when I started dating someone who had spent their whole life in Baltimore City, that I began exploring it in a whole new way. Infatuation with the start of my relationship and newfound friends led me to be intoxicated with excitement every time I had a chance to go to Baltimore; suddenly Towson was of complete disinterest to me.

I began to learn and come to know more neighborhoods—Charles Village, Remington, Hampden, Fells Point… Some of which are definitely in the process of being gentrified. But, nonetheless, my love was expanding. It was then that I found myself becoming very defensive over those who only saw Baltimore as a crime-ridden, “ghetto” place. My best friend recently had a conversation with someone she graduated with. She stated that she was planning on moving to Baltimore, and his response was, “Oh, you’re moving to the ghetto!” Both of us were completely awestruck by the sheer ignorance of his statement. Media coverage of Baltimore does an unjust job at countering the bad with the good—I suppose that goes for everything though. Just because windows are boarded up and certain places have a higher volume of crime does not deem them ugly. Crime by some does not account for all. Inner city Baltimore has been put through the ringer. For those of you who have your doubts about the beauty of this city, please examine the systemic oppression that has grasped many parts of the community so tightly. We are all very different from one another but that does not mean we are not all beautiful. The good that people like Iandry are doing is going unnoticed by those people who are so quick to deem Baltimore a bad place. During my time photographing him, I also photographed another artist named Gaia. To me, they are physical proof of Baltimore City being beautiful. They turn walls into art while also seeing the beauty that already exists. The location of the “Wall of Wisdom” mural wouldn’t be considered the safest place for me to be venturing by myself. My boyfriend, who once lived there, always left me with a “be safe” every time I went. I think it is experiences like this that help me better understand communities that differ from my own, and without them, I too would be ignorant.

Natalie Jeffery is a twenty-two-year-old food enthusiast who thrives by using words and photographs to uncover the world in front of her. With women’s issues at the forefront of her interests, she would like to use such creative devices to promote gender equality.