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The Art of Writing

Stamps Students Honored for Writing at U-M

A group of Stamps School artists known for their creativity as artists and designers are also all award-winning writers. 

Three undergraduate Stamps students received prestigious university-wide writing awards. Nominated by their instructors, these students each were selected through very competitive processes in the Gail Morris Sweetland Center for Writing and the Hopwood Program in the College of Literature, Science & Arts.

I’ve been working with Stamps students on their writing for many years now after working at LSA at the Sweetland Center for Writing and in the English Department Writing Program” said Jennifer Metsker, Writing Coordinator at the Stamps School. What stands out to me about Stamps writers is how they arrive to writing on their own terms. They take more risks and have more intrinsic motivation to talk about their experiences because of their creative drive but also because of the interdisciplinary nature of Stamps. Stamps encourages them to see writing as another creative field where rules can be broken and ideas can be expanded based on their imagination.”

While Stamps has no formal creative writing courses, these students have found their way to use writing creatively and make an impact that can be seen across the university. The Stamps students honored include:

Each of the students recently shared the personal stories behind their award-winning writing. 

Georgie Correa

Georgie Correa, wearing a striped shirt and glasses

Hating Being a Girl is a reflection on my experiences growing up in an environment where gender roles were heavily enforced onto us. It wasn’t easy figuring out who I really was in a place where I was only allowed to be a girl. With this piece, I want to empower others to express themselves regardless of their circumstances and to know that they’re not alone when it comes to struggles with identity.

This award is a sign for me to continue working on my art and storytelling. I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity to showcase my work, especially as a freshman. I look forward to telling more stories with my art in hopes of inspiring others!”

An illustration from Hating Being a Girl shows an unhappy figure in a Catholic school uniform
An illustration from Hating Being a Girl

Correa’s instructor, Ali Shapiro, nominated her for the prize. In remarks at the award ceremony, Shapiro spoke of Correa’s approach to her personal story.

In Hating Being a Girl, Georgie investigates the contradictions of gendered expectations in her family and at her all-girls school in Puerto Rico using not only her strong narrative and analytical writing, but also her lively, stylish drawings… Like her ultimate discovery about her own gender, the form of Georgie’s essay resists easy binaries, allowing her to explore a complex subject from multiple angles and to communicate both the humor and the pain of her story,” said Shapiro.

Gabriel Consiglio

Gabriel Consiglio, wearing a black t-shirt
Gabriel Consiglio

My Mother’s Kitchen is a ceramic vessel hand-sculpted in stoneware clay, dressed in a matte white glaze with details in a cobalt blue majolica. The sculptural object, created in late 2020, draws its surface imagery from the labels of Arabic food packaging — found objects in my mother’s pantry. This commercial imagery stands in contrast against an experimental form and an elegant surface treatment. 

Gabriel works in the ceramics studio at Stamps
Gabriel works in the ceramics studio at Stamps

This piece is particularly significant to me because it not only marks my first foray into the medium of ceramics, one that I find myself very much at home in today, but also because it is the first moment where I was able to articulate the influences behind my work both in and out of ceramic sculpture. What began as a project to celebrate the ingredients and dishes that I found myself missing as I returned to campus ended up being the basis for a deep interrogation of my creative practice as a whole, leading me into entirely new ways of making.” 

Nikolai Kesson

Nikolai Kesson, wearing a grey hoodie and denim jacket
Nikolai Kesson

The combined work was called Ascend. I think I am always worried that my writing won’t feel accessible or real to other people, so to have a judge read it and award it second place shows me that I AM writing things with meaning and that I AM connecting with the reader and that I’m not just talking to myself, so winning this award was very important to me in that sense.

I am a 5th year senior with a BFA. I have explored a lot of media while at Stamps, but I mainly focus on drawing and ceramics, as well as text based work. I plan to continue writing. I don’t really have a vision of what the future will look like, but writing is the way I process the world, and I know it will always be something I do.”

Nico Senior Exhibition Project

Nikolai took those stories and incorporated it into their final project for the 2022 Stamps Senior Exhibition. By creating several small books as part of the exhibit, those books became a visual interpretation in their writing. As Metsger said about Nikolai’s project, It embodied the angst and fears found within writing by creating many tiny books that captured significant moments of their life in stark prose.”