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HFC student artists, writers, and scholars earn accolades at statewide LAND conference

Release Date
Cover of LAND Conference 2023 program

HFC students performed well at the 38th annual Liberal Arts Network for Development (LAND) Conference, a statewide community college competition, placing first, second, and third in several categories during the online event Feb. 22-24.

“All of the judges at this year’s LAND Conference expressed how hard it was to select winners among the many entries from the 12 participating community colleges. I am super proud of all the HFC students who entered and whose amazing talents were recognized with awards,” said HFC English instructor Dr. Peter Kim, a member of the LAND Steering Committee.

LAND Student Scholars

Kim served as faculty mentor for four HFC LAND Student Scholars who presented at the conference:

  • Zainab Bazoun, who gave the presentation, “Public Transportation in Detroit”
  • Walaa Bazoun, who gave the presentation, “Detroit: The Asthma Endemic”
  • Joel Ferrick, who gave the presentation, “Keep Growing Detroit: A Story of Detroit’s Adversity”
  • Sean Moylan, who gave the presentation, “Blood Libel: From Thomas of Monmouth to Henry Ford”

“Siblings Zainab and Walaa Bazoun did amazingly well by bookending the Student Scholars portion of the LAND Conference with their unique and very well-researched presentations,” said Kim. “Zainab gave an in-depth look at the history and future prospects for public transit in Metro Detroit. Her presentation generated a number of thoughtful questions from the audience. Joel shared the history and future possibilities of urban gardening in Detroit, including his own hands-on experience volunteering at Keep Growing Detroit, which manages the largest garden resource program in the city.”

According to Kim, Moylan was unable to present live due to a medical issue. However, Moylan demonstrated how dedicated he was by recording his presentation.

“Sean adroitly researched the lineage of anti-Semitism in the ‘blood libel’ roots of a lie by Thomas of Monmouth, a Benedictine monk in England, who spread the lie throughout Europe in the 12th century,” said Kim. “He then traced that lineage to the debunked ‘Protocols of Zion,’ which would be reprinted in the pages of Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent and translated into 12 languages, eventually reaching the fascist movement in Germany. And, last but not least, Walaa gave an equally engaging presentation on the asthma endemic in Detroit, informing the audience about the poor air quality particularly in neighborhoods of color in Detroit. All four HFC student scholars are to be commended for their professionalism and depth and breadth of knowledge in their presentations.”

Creative writing contest winners

HFC students Georgia “Wren” Beatty and Ashley Trent won first and third place, respectively. HFC English instructor Ruth Ann Schmitt served as their faculty mentor.

“As a student, I could always expect the unexpected from Wren Beatty, a thoughtful and assimilative thinker with a keen interest in form. ‘Worms’ is a collection of fragmented pieces that tells an unexpected tale of horror. Each one is linguistically brilliant and will keep you up at night. And this is only the beginning for a budding young talent,” said Schmitt.

Beatty’s “Worms” won first prize in the fiction category. Trent’s “Land Mines” won third prize in the creative non-fiction category.

“‘Land Mines’ is a narrative telling of the tumultuous relationship I had with my father after the death of my mother, and how I was able to forgive him for everything after he had passed as well. It’s an exploration of the sad side effects of loss, how we all continue living – or not – after, and the resilient nature of the human heart,” said Trent.

“Although I’ve never had Ashley as a student, meeting and introducing her at the Barrett Ceremony was a privilege. When I read her piece, ‘Land Mines,’ my heart dropped,” said Schmitt. “This tragic father-daughter relationship never finds a resolution. Hurt haunts the narrator’s memories. Ashley crafts pain into art beautifully.”

Graphic design

HFC dominated the graphic design category. Not only did HFC students win first, second, and third place, but also honorable mention:

  • First place: Christopher Namyst
  • Second place: Jason Donati
  • Third place: Nathan Abbott
  • Honorable mention: Madison Farly

“It was unexpected for sure but certainly a welcome surprise!” said Abbott. “This was my first LAND conference. The assignment was to create a typographic poster that followed a theme chosen by the conference. Our theme was ‘Awkward Pauses,’ so I decided to make a poster centered around AI art, something that has been causing a lot of worry in the art community recently, and a lot of graphic designers to wonder if they will still have a job. My main focus was to create a simple and aesthetically pleasing composition that would fulfill the objectives given by the LAND conference while not straying too far from my own personal style.”

Added Namyst: "The theme for the project was 'Awkward Pauses,' so it already sort of had its name. However, I went with a pandemic style message. I think we all went through a lot during these last few years, and to call it awkward was just one of many emotions. I was surprised when I earned first place, as all of my peers submitted some exceptional work, so hats off to all of them and to HFC for dominating."

HFC fine arts instructor Victoria Shepherd served as their faculty mentor.

“I’m very proud of my students,” said Shepherd. “It’s also a point of pride for me that HFC captured the graphic design category at LAND, winning first, second, and third place, along with honorable mention.”

2-D art

Malak Cherri’s artwork, “Sun Kissed Recitation,” won second place in the 2-D art category. HFC fine arts instructor Nemanja Rosic served as her faculty mentor.

"This Second Place Award at this year’s LAND Competition bested more than 150 submissions from all participating Michigan colleges. This is not the first time Malak has won recognition: She has also received an honorable mention a couple of years ago at LAND. It seems quite fitting that she has now established her presence in the Top 2 this year. I do hope that this trend continues, and her next entry, perhaps, takes the top prize," said Rosic. "Her work is made with a subtle and refined understanding of the traditional oil painting on canvas technique. She uses this discipline’s strategy to richly depict, most recently, a very picturesque set of daily life motifs, be it in the form of portraiture of distinct individuals, architectural interior scenes involving candlelight and ornate decorative furniture, or portrayed figures involved in active work (educators, seamstresses, children, etc.); she illustrates the mood, energy, rhythm, and character of her chosen tableaux with an inspiring zest and incredible, meticulous detail."

About LAND

The mission of LAND is to develop and promote a network for strengthening liberal arts education across Michigan’s 28 community colleges. LAND sponsors seven student competitions to recognize outstanding student work in the liberal arts: student scholars, poster, creative writing, graphic design, 2-D art, 3-D art, photo/new media and short film.

“It is also a pleasure and a thrill to see the creativity of students from community colleges across Michigan on full display at the LAND Conference,” said Kim. “I speak for my fellow LAND Steering Committee members when I say that the talent of these students never ceases to amaze me.”