WORTHINGTON — Superheroes, mental illness, death, family and video games are just a few of the many insights readers can find in the 2021-2022 edition of “Unwound,” the annual review of Creative Writing and Art from Minnesota West Community & Technical College.
The journal in its current form is the brainchild of Gillian Singler, an English professor and chair of the college’s Humanities and Fine Arts division.
Although there was a creative writing magazine before, the artwork in it still came from outside the college. Singler instead decided to feature in-house pieces from the many students in the college’s art department and selected them herself to match the themes and sentiment of the pieces written in the journal.
“Last year, because of COVID-19, we had to do everything online. It worked out pretty well,” said Singler, who also edits and formats the newspaper.
Most of the “Unwound” pieces were written by the 15 students in Singler’s Creative Writing class, with some work by Composition I students.
Samuel Van Westen, a creative writing student working on his associate’s degree, took the opportunity to write “What’s Left” for the newspaper, a standalone piece that’s also part of a book project he’s on. has been working for 10 years.
“(It’s about) the aimlessness of revenge — how you get lost in it and it’s no use,” Van Westen said.
His work has been inspired by some of the recent fantasy genre writing that is less about epic battles of good versus evil and more about people in a world where morality has shades of gray. It’s the first time it’s been published, and he’s excited about it because it provides an opportunity for reader feedback.
“When you spend so much time on a project, you become too attached,” he said.
Partly because of the structure of the Creative Writing course, which was taught entirely online this year, the journal is mostly fiction and doesn’t include much of the poetry that was part of it in previous years. Writing students are a mixed group of traditional, non-traditional, and school-aged PSEO students with a diverse set of ages and interests, and many take creative writing to meet the requirement of a course. advanced writing.
The students had all kinds of inspiration for their writing, from transitioning into adulthood and loving dogs to a family story about a mouse or even just watching a younger brother play on the family farm.
During the writing process, they learned to work with short story exercises before inserting them into a larger narrative and playing with points of view and various writing techniques.
The journal artwork is an equally eclectic mix, with sculptures, collages, pencil sketches, paintings and mixed media work from a variety of students, some of whom also study art primarily. because it meets a general requirement, said Leah Gossom, art instructor.
“They’re not necessarily in love with art, but it gives them a chance to do something different,” Gossom said. “We have fun here.”
Other students are extremely serious about the craft.
“Art is my life and I look forward to opportunities to express it,” said Samantha Brink, whose stylized pencil portrait of a woman can be found on page 7 of “Unwound.”
Erin Langendorfer, who is working on a degree in education, created a bust sculpture of a Native American that made the newspaper this year.
“I created this piece to bring awareness to these issues,” Langendorfer said, citing the many Native Americans who had united to protest oil pipelines in North Dakota and the growing movement to recognize and reunite with the many Native women who were carried disappeared.
She hadn’t expected her work to be published in the newspaper.
“I was thrilled,” Langendorfer said.
Gossom said many of the artworks in the journal have thematic and narrative notions, and that students bring their cultural backgrounds and sense of place with them into their work.
Another highly symbolic piece is Rachel Moore’s “Heart,” in which every element, from color to shape, has a specific meaning and reference – surprisingly, to a YouTuber widely known for playing the deeply complex construction game Minecraft.
“It was very exciting. I always include their art in the lobby of our fine arts space,” Gossom said. “(The diary) is a great opportunity to connect that with writing.”
Previous editions of “Unwound” included footage from Minnesota West theatrical productions, but due to scheduling, this did not happen this year. However, Singler again hopes to make the journal a broader representation of the college’s humanities division in the future.
“Through healing and reflection, through creating and appreciating art, we can come to know each other,” she wrote in the journal’s introduction. “By knowing each other, we get to know each other. Simply put, without art our world would not only be a less dynamic place but also a less human one.
“Unwound” can be found in its entirety online at
and printed copies will be available on campus starting this month, Singler said.
The Department of Humanities and Fine Arts is hosting a spring art exhibit at 1 p.m. on May 9, at the Center for Performing & Fine Arts on the Worthington campus, and the public is invited to attend. Some students will read excerpts from their work, either in person or via video, and many of the artworks included in the journal will also be on display.