CREATE! Micro-Grant Program Launches 2021 Student Exhibition

The 2021 CREATE! Micro-Grant Student Exhibition launches today, December 10. This online exhibit showcases the 12 student projects that were completed based on the winning proposals that earned each project $500 in micro-grant funding. 

The CREATE! Micro-Grant Program encourages students to respond critically and imaginatively to events occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic and to creatively explore the issues of their generation.

This year’s student winners represent a variety of disciplines, including Theatre, Apparel and Textile Design, Music Education and Composition, Neuroscience, Graphic Design, Dance, Professional and Public Writing, Marketing, English, Creative Writing, and Management. The projects themselves include short films, digital zines, mixed media art, podcasts, poetry collections, textured garments, a musical performance, and a textile design pattern.

List of all the winning participants of the 2021 CREATE! Micro-Grant Student Exhibition and their individual photos.
Winning participants of the 2021 CREATE! Micro-Grant competition.

“The collaborations cataloged in this exhibition and the hopeful tenor of many of the pieces are evidence of how our students’ art and writing help us see what remains tender and luminous during one of the hardest and darkest periods of our lifetimes,” said Divya Victor, Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Transnational Poetry, who founded the CREATE! Micro-Grant initiative along with Professor of Theatre Rob Roznowski.

Offered by MSU’s College of Arts & Letters, this is the second year the CREATE! Micro-Grant competition has been held. The first was in 2020. 

Unlike most student award programs, the CREATE! Micro-Grant initiative invests in the potential of a student’s vision, rather than in the end-product. This year, a group of seven jurors from MSU and the Lansing area selected 12 student proposals to each receive $500 in funding. The winners then used the money to undertake their projects, which engage in a variety of expressive mediums portraying messages about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The collaborations cataloged in this exhibition and the hopeful tenor of many of the pieces are evidence of how our students’ art and writing help us see what remains tender and luminous during one of the hardest and darkest periods of our lifetimes.

Divya Victor, co-founder of the CREATE! Micro-Grant initiative

“This year, the projects reflect on the changes we’ve undergone during the pandemic, focusing on personal growth, social change, mental health, and therapeutic community-oriented practices,” Victor said. “Whereas the previous year’s artworks, essays, and poems registered the shock and trauma of what was happening during the early months of the pandemic, this year’s exhibition documents how we are adapting to these shocks and how we are drawing on our communal and interpersonal strengths.” 

The CREATE! Micro-Grant initiative is facilitated by the Dean’s Arts Advisory Council (DAAC) and is made possible through the collaboration of the DAAC and the College of Arts & Letters, with support from the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) and several departments at MSU, including the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education; Center for Interdisciplinarity; Department of Art, Art History, and Design; Department of English; Department of Theatre; Film Studies Program; Honors College; and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities.

The following are the 12 student projects that received 2021 CREATE! Micro-Grant funding and that are featured in the online exhibit:

Ben Barber, a sophomore Acting and Game Design double major, and Julia Insoniemia sophomore Theatre and Film Studies double major, collaborated on a short film that tackles themes of isolation, mental health, and the changes facing this generation of young people.  

Ally Blovits, an English major, completed a collection of about 10-30 free-verse, confessional-style poems centered around themes of mental health and relationships during the pandemic.  

Iliana Cosme-Brooks, a senior Arts and Humanities and Public and Professional Writing double major, crocheted a textured garment that represents the lonely and suffocating feeling experienced by many during the pandemic.  

Jason Dernay, a 2021 College of Arts & Letters alumnus with degrees in Acting and Management, and Nate Davis, a senior majoring in Acting, expanded upon their podcast that was created thanks to the 2020 CREATE! Micro-Grant they received. With the 2021 grant, they re-visited previously interviewed artists to see how the pandemic continues to impact their lives and careers. 

Maura Drinkert, a sophomore Music Education and Composition double major, performed her original song, “Song for the World,” to highlight the isolation brought on by the pandemic. 

Annie Dubois, a senior Public and Professional Writing major, and Nyle Rosenbaum, a junior Marketing major, created a multimedia zine that covers shifts in behavior, linguistics, and relationships due to the pandemic and increased isolation.

Mike Gardner, a Studio Art major, created a compilation of mixed media on canvas, including mediums such as photographs, oil paintings, and handmade stamps. 

Timosha Krivstov, a recent B.F.A. in Apparel and Textile Design alumnus, used Adobe creative platforms to make a repeating textile design pattern that reflects on the consequences of global warming and its generational damage.  

Sloan Lemberg, a junior Marketing major, created a short dance film inspired by the feeling of longing felt during the height of the pandemic.  

Anusha Mamidipaka, a senior Neuroscience and Psychology double major, created a 30-minute film documenting art workshops that invite MSU students and community members to express how the pandemic has affected them.  

Julia Rudlaffa senior Civil Engineering and English double major, put together a collection of poetry that addresses the pandemic’s effect on body image and gender identity.

C Widmann, a Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing master’s student, published a digital magazine that expands on an article Widmann wrote for The Current that tells the stories of artists who use their work as coping mechanisms during the pandemic.