Juror's Awards

Play Video


amor ingrato

Bea Lima ’20

Play Video


3 Little Monsters: Kids Counting Song

Jisoo Kim ’21
Haeri Cho ’21

Play Video


Pervasive: Abstract Title Sequence

Jordan McBarnett ’23

Play Video

department head award

Bowlero AMF

David-Dean Capasso ’21
Erin Johnson ’21

Play Video

Faculty award

FutureProof21: Branding Proposal

Haeri Cho ’21

Play Video

President's Award


Erin Johnson ’21

Fourth year work

Play Video


Play Video


Play Video

First year work

Play Video

Karin Fong

Karin is a founding member of Imaginary Forces. Throughout her career, the Emmy Award-winning director and designer has helmed iconic projects in film, television, gaming, and advertising. The California native finds inspiration in everything from surrealism to Schoolhouse Rock, and it shows. Her work expresses a love of compelling storytelling, strong concepts, and striking imagery—as well as some truly bad puns.

Project Overview

Project Name: The Future of Brand Activations Senior Thesis
Project Type: Brand strategy and activations
Credits: All credit belongs to Ellie Winslow for all roles
Project Duration: 7 Months | September 2020- April 2021

Project Context:

Imagine you and your brand spent years on an activation, sinking hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into it- only to have it canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Believe it or not, this was a reality for me. I was the project manager and production coordinator for Ringling College and Flight School Studio’s brand activation at the 2020 South by Southwest trade show for the new VR game Glitch Out. Getting the phone call that SXSW was canceled was devastating, but my mind immediately jumped to the bigger picture: What was the future of brand activations?

This project took one single time-relevant challenge that a multitude of industries are facing in regards to marketing and provides context and best-practice strategies for how to move forward. It educates about what brand activations are, could look like, and could accomplish, it speaks on the new realities consumers face as well as how to move forward. It even offers a custom example to show what the strategy would look like if applied to a brand.

This project allowed me to conduct primary and secondary research, aggregate information, and create an original contribution to the field via definition and analysis. I learned how to speak about activations in a way that educates the public no matter their previous understanding (which is a challenge in and of itself). I had experience in document design, messaging, presentation, editing, application, creative executions, account planning, and most importantly strategy.

I am so excited to finally be able to share this project with brands as a way to move forward, the public as an educational tool, and agencies as a tool for best practice.

Project Overview


Best of Ringling 2021 Submission Brief

Project Type
Brand Strategy

Sophie Schönbach – Project Manager + Strategist; Luna Krizan – Strategist

76 weeks | Fall 2019, Spring and Fall 2020, Spring 2021

This project originated in BOAD’s Project Management class over 1,5 years ago in Fall 2019. The QEP, Ringling’s Quality Enhancement Program Committee, approached us with the client-ask to color-code all experiential learning opportunities around campus as they had identified confusion over real-world projects and experiences offered to students. Naturally, our first step was to indulge in extensive research. We interviewed over 10 different stakeholders, surveyed 674 students and interviewed 15 more to diagnose the root of the problem. Through our insights, we found that the solution requires, rather than just a visual system, an entirely new brand strategy that tackles how the ‘Collaboratory Commitment’, the president’s promise to provide all students with real-world experience by the time they graduate, is perceived and experienced. We determined that our solution needs to foster trust, unity, accessibility, guidance, and inclusivity.

With that, INDEX was born. It stands for Industry Experience at Ringling College of Art and Design and constructs the third pillar of the Ringling experience next to academics and student life. The INDEX office, paired with our communication strategy, permanently hosts the umbrella that synthesizes the various places
that offer industry experiences. The name is self-explanatory and eliminates confusing and exclusive language. One word was used to describe two different things as one of the places on campus that offer industry experience was called the Collaboratory. This brand, in combination with our launch strategy, allows us to
establish a strong identity that invites internal and external community members, translating the true value of the, now, INDEX promise.

The first phase of this project centered around research. The second phase, which we brought to completion now, focused on stakeholder buy-in. We needed to get everyone on board and receive permission to move forward. To do so, we pitched to all Vice Presidents, the Board of Trustees, Department Heads and faculty, as
well as the President himself, Dr. Larry Thompson. We learned that by meticulously fine-tuning our pitch and punctiliously tailoring it to our audience, we could pierce even the strongest personal biases.

We learned that a strong idea relies on an even stronger presentation to translate its value. Our dedication allowed us to stabilize a very fragile conversation and break down the barriers of bureaucracy. With our commitment, we overcame a decrease in team size and met all our goals and expectations. We learned that communication really is key.

For Best of Ringling 2020, we decided to create a behind-the-scenes video to share the story of our first project phase. This year, we decided to establish a series by creating another behind-the-scenes video that highlights the second project phase. We accompanied our submission with a pitch deck PDF, presented to Dr. Thompson, its correspondent script, a leave-behind booklet that was handed out to stakeholders after our presentations, as well as one of our creative briefs we used to kick-start conversations with, for example, the Design Center, Ringling’s in-house design studio that is currently creating the visual portion to our brand.

Blane Zweifel - Props

Jill Eleazer Sokol

ASID, LEED AP, Registered Interior Designer

Graduating from University of Florida and Savannah College of Art and Design, Jill is founding principal of JES Interiors in St. Petersburg. Her passion is creating innovative environments that improve well-being and lift the human spirit. Jill has 30+ years of interior design experience with hundreds of projects completed, representing market sectors from healthcare, corporate, and education, to retail, multifamily, and luxury residential. Having been a full-time faculty member of Ringling’s Interior Design Department for 17 years, she is extremely proud of her many former students’ successes. Prior to teaching, Jill owned award-winning St. Petersburg interior design firm, Eleazer Associates.

Amanda and Phillip Clark

After graduating from Ringling in 2008, Amanda and Phillip accepted jobs at Target’s in-house creative agency and headed north to Minneapolis. From there, they individually left Target and now years later are back together working at MONO, a design-driven advertising & branding agency.

Amanda has led design and art direction across various brands including Sperry, Peroni, Propel, Harvard Business School, Children’s Minnesota and Target. On the side, she pursues her passion for drawing typography and illustration, both of which were recently featured in a political art exhibition where she created portraits of the 131 women in the 116th Congress.

Phillip was a design director at Target, a brand director for a climate positive apparel company and a full-time freelance creative. He’s designed experiences for Winter X Games, Ted Conference and numerous apparel launches. He has designed and built several coffee shops, bicycle companies and lifestyle brands including his latest personal venture, Ten And Two Co. Phillip has the honor of having his work in the permanent AIGA Archives at the Denver Art Museum.

Medusa - Thesis Statement

My research consisted mainly of the Greek myth of Medusa, and how she is not
properly depicted/represented in the media. In particular, she is often portrayed as a
cruel, sadistic monster in film media and games. In reality, it was far different from what most people believe to be Medusa’s story. Even though most modern-day depictions of Medusa are closer to her true nature, they are still not entirely accurate to her story either.

Medusa is my own interpretation of her myth condensed into a short film. Rather than being overly for or against Medusa in my interpretation, I am telling her story as it was originally described in the myth itself. It is told from Medusa’s perspective, as she serenades her sorrowing tale to you, the viewer. Her song is vague but accurate to her original myth. The film depicts a small portion of her tale; the portion of how she came to be the serpent-haired gorgon who turns people to stone, as she is known today. Subtle hints to the rest of her story are littered within the piece as well but are not the primary focus.

I reference the 5th-century Hellenistic Athenian era, and I also incorporate two common techniques that were used in ancient Greek vase paintings, these being the Black-figure technique and the Red-figure technique. I also use various important symbols that have specific meanings in Greek art, such as vases, which are symbols of virginity. This is the most important symbol as it is a direct connection to Medusa’s loss of purity, as well as being a priestess for the virgin goddess Athena. Athena herself is also symbolic, as she was commonly known as a “Goddess of Man” and favored men over women. To emphasize this part of Athena, I depict her to be more manly. Colors are also very important in my piece. Specific colors have specific meanings, and though it may be subtle in the piece, they are there for a specific purpose. The color red means “to carry sin”, while blue means “purity” and green means “life and jealousy”. All this thorough research binds the piece together visually and historically, as this piece depicts the accurate telling of Medusa according to the original written Greek myth.

Darin Mickey

Darin Mickey is a photographer and musician based in New York City. His work has been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions in New York, Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle, Atlanta, Copenhagen, Sydney, and Tokyo. He is the author of Death Takes a Holiday and Stuff I Gotta Remember Not to Forget. His images have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Vice, The Washington Post Magazine, Aperture, FOAM, and Doubletake among others. Darin is Chair of the Creative Practices Program at The International Center of Photography.

Jeff Skalski

At the age of 18 and ambitious, Jeff began his art internship at MicroProse, a PC Developer located in Hunt Valley, Maryland just a few miles away from his art school, MICA. After several released titles from The Magic the Gathering, Civilization and X-COM franchises under his belt, he joined a small company in Fairfax, Virginia called Mythic Entertainment in 2002. Working on Dark Age of Camelot and three boxed expansions later, he took on the challenges of being Art Director for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Following the company’s acquisition from Electronic Arts he relocated to Shanghai, China to build and train the art team needed for the AAA MMORPG. Upon returning to the US in 2007, Jeff assumed the role of Producer and helped ship WAR and its first expansion content, Land of the Dead, in 2009. As the mobile scene began to build momentum Jeff kick started a new direction for Mythic as a Producer on Ultima Forever, an online RPG that reboots the 1985 ethical classic Ultima IV, and Dungeon Keeper. In 2014 Jeff joined Ubisoft as a Senior Producer on Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. After shipping AC Syndicate, Jeff worked on several exciting initiatives at Ubisoft ranging from VR development to new IP creation while also continuing to play a role with well-known franchises Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six. In 2020, Jeff co-founded a new indie studio in Quebec City, Canada called Yellow Brick Games where the focus is on creating new innovative gameplay and original IPs.

The Three Graces

The Ignition

David Houle

David Houle is a futurist, thinker and speaker. Houle spent more than 20 years in media and entertainment.

In the last 14 years, he has delivered 1200+ keynotes and presentations on six continents and 16 countries.

Houle has had twelve books published, starting with his influential first book The Shift Age in 2007.

In April 2016, Houle launched a global non-profit https://thisspaceshipearth.org/ to create “Crew Consciousness” to address the climate crisis.

Houle is Futurist in Residence and Guest Lecturer at the Ringling College of Art + Design. He is also the Honorary Futurist and President of the Future Business School of China, and a Founding Member and Managing Director of The Sarasota Institute.

Ekaterina Solomeina

Ekaterina Solomeina – creative director, educator, TEDx speaker and founder of Future London Academy. For the past 15 years, she has worked with some of the greatest creative minds alive, including Michael Wolff (founder of Wolff Olins), Donatella Versace and companies like Coca-Cola, Sony, Mars, IBM, Microsoft, Samsung – helping to grow brands, developing design teams and create innovative products.

She co-wrote a book about British Design and has built and Bauhaus 2.0 programme at Future London Academy – rethinking what education of the future should look like. Future London Academy’s radically different approach to learning attracted a lot of attention from the design industry and has been featured in It’s Nice That, Abduzeedo, Creative Boom, Inc, AIGA, Dexigner and others. 

Ekaterina is constantly collecting best practices from the industry leaders and occasionally interviews the most inspiring creative on her 46k followers Instagram, including David Carson, Brian Collins, Baugasm, Cristina Daura, Pokras Lampas and others. She also shares her insights at conferences around the world, including TEDx, The Next Web, STEP and OFFF.

Project Overview

Project Type

Human Resource Strategy


The project was divided equally between each team member. Tekla Khantadze focused more on the design elements while Sophie Schönbach took on the research.
Duration 18 weeks | Fall 2020


This project and its deliverables lived within the context of BOAD 330: Managing Human Resources for Creative Organizations. Its premise was to create a fictitious business, synthesize its strategy, and then pair it with a human resource strategy that not only aligns but also elevates the business premise. The tangible scope includes an extensive Talent Management Strategic Plan, an onboarding video for new employees, as well as a compact pitch presentation that introduces and highlights our proposed strategy to the prospective business leadership.

Being presented with a clean slate, it was important for us to conceptualize a business that speaks to a cause and thrives within modern-day society. This is how ORB was born. ORB is a London-based, sustainable, high-end fashion startup that provides a truly zero-waste clothing solution to the consumer. Through secondary research, we were able to analyze its external and internal environment, determine what our employment needs are, derive its strategy, and evaluate its execution capabilities.

After establishing a rock-solid base anchored in research, we shifted our focus to the human resource department. Over the course of three months, we tackled the five fundamental pillars of HR: workforce structure, recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management, and employee benefits and rights. Throughout each phase, we identified areas of research and determined applicable content we deemed necessary. As this project was delivered through a flipped classroom model, we taught ourselves over 30 different tools and frameworks to analyze and assess the company in order to create the one formula that maximizes employee potential by strategically identifying and accommodating their role within the greater system.

Progressively throughout the semester, we were able to comprehensively understand and defend the fundamental role of the personnel department in any organization. By applying theoretical aspects to a real-world example, we uncovered just how influential strategic human resource policies and systems are on the overall company success. A company’s corporate culture can make or break its competitive advantage. By pitching our strategy to 5 human resource professionals in the industry, we were able to lift this project beyond the classroom and make it industry-relevant.

Project Overview

Project Narrative and Context:

What is Fresco? Fresco is a first of its kind fashion show at Ringling College – conceptualized, planned, and managed by a cross disciplinary team of students. Featuring designs made of trash, recycled, and unwanted materials, Fresco is using the runway to shed light on the issues that matter. Fresco is coming in Fall 2021.

Marketing Strategy:

Using social media platforms specifically, Instagram to activate the brand and promote values that are interesting to the student and faculty body of Ringling.

Creative Strategy:

Creating engaging and high quality graphics to seek attention and followers. The visual identity was inspired by modern graphics and personal taste that matches the high quality fashion aesthetic. Through our visual identity, we aim to convey quality and commitment for our values. Using a bold, colorful and active tone of voice we expect to get people’s attention.


Since July 2020, we have gained 445 followers on Instagram and enlarged our internal team with 6 designers, 11 models, 4 media team members and 3 core team members, which makes Fresco a group of 24 diverse students. We have members from all over the world, including Taiwan, Argentina, Kosovo and Hungary. In addition, we’ve created 90 unique posts and a concept video. Our most popular posts reached over 300 people and we have an average of 30 likes per picture. We hope to gain more attention and people to join Fresco throughout future campaigns.

What’s next?

With the brand strategy established, we will continue to promote the brand up until the execution of the final fashion show. The next campaign will be the introduction of the Designers.

Project Links:



  • Linda Liao: Project Manager, Graphic Designer
    Jorge Rodriguez: Graphic Designer, Valentine’s day and Fresco Thrift Station campaign visuals
  • Hope Ho: Graphic Designer, Valentine’s day and Fresco Thrift Station campaign visuals
  • Gabby Pierre: Graphic Designer, Fresco Thrift Station campaign visuals.
  • Milena Montero: Research and copy for Fresh Quotes and Fresh Facts campaign.
  • Emma Ream: Research and copy for Fresh Quotes and Fresh Facts campaign.

Role on the Project: Graphic Designer, Marketer, Creative Director
Project Duration with Dates: From July 2020 – Today (still ongoing project)

Project Overview

Play Video

For this project, I was tasked with building a for-profit strategic plan for a company of my creation within a sector of my choosing. I am particularly interested in the music industry and hope to one day make my own music and even perform on stage, so I decided to explore the music streaming industry. By doing this, I had the opportunity to learn about the processes and inner workings of the industry and create a strategy that would best take advantage of all the factors.

The methodology to bring this project to fruition included in-depth research in the form of an environmental scan, industry analysis, and competitor analysis, among others. This exploration gave me a good understanding of the market and insights into what my company needed to be like in order to succeed and appeal to consumers.

I learned that there are incredibly high costs associated with starting a music streaming company, and there is currently very little on the market that offers interactive, informational, or visual experiences along with music consumption. These main findings informed Mocean and the strategy behind it. I came up with innovative solutions to minimize the large up front costs of licensing a music library, which included a partnership with Soundcloud, a competing music sharing platform. Additionally, the entire concept of Mocean rests on the idea that it will house visual media as well as auditory, filling an empty niche in the market.

The outcomes of this project include a full strategic plan and accompanying pitch deck, along with a condensed and narrative based pitch presentation. These documents show what Mocean needs to be, what it is, where it is going, and how it is going to get there. With the extensive research I conducted throughout the duration of this project, I realized that a business like this is viable in the real world. It expanded my horizons into the possibilities within the music industry and within myself as a creator.

Mocean embodies the Business of Art and Design program as it allowed me to be bold enough to imagine a world where I can bring it to life. One day, I hope to make steps towards this end, perhaps even starting next semester with my thesis project. Either way, I know that the world could use a little Mocean.

Liron Topaz

Liron is a Director, Supervising Animator and the Animation Department Chair at DreamWorks Animation Studios. Liron was passionate about animation from a very early age. He graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design with honors, and won the Ringling President’s Award for his thesis film ‘This Side Up’. In 2008, Liron was selected by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for their exclusive internship program at Sony Pictures Imageworks, and continued there to work on Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. He then moved to DreamWorks Animation where he worked on various films including the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ franchise, ‘The Croods’ franchise and the ‘Kung Fu Panda’ franchise, where he was the character lead for Master Oogway, Dawn Betterman and the Deathgrippers. In 2018, Liron made his directing debut with the film – Bilby. The film was shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Awards and showcased in numerous festivals around the world. Liron is currently working on The Bad Guys, as a supervising Animator.


Juan Rubio is a Pixotope Product Specialist and Evangelist. Juan’s career has spanned across Feature Film VFX, AAA Games, and Enterprise. He has contributed to 10 feature films including Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Watchmen. Juan being an early adopter of VR, AR, and XR has worked on Interactive/Realtime projects from bid to final delivery while also leading teams and external vendors. While collaborating with various companies his end clients span across many verticals and include ones such as ExxonMobil, Google, Sony, Amgen, Burberry, The NFL, The Cartoon Network, Jaguar/Land Rover, and Charles Schwab.

Sarah Howard

Sarah Howard joined the staff of the University of South Florida Institute for Research in Art in 2000. For the past two decades, Ms. Howard has contributed across the platforms of the USF Contemporary Art Museum, Graphicstudio, and the Public Art Program by researching, producing and presenting contemporary artists’ projects. In 2013, Ms. Howard was appointed as Curator of Public Art and Social Practice and currently administers Florida’s Art in State Buildings Program across the three USF campuses. She works with national and local partners to present exhibitions, community-based projects and public art installations exploring the intersection of art, politics, and social and environmental justice.

Greg O’Bryant

Originally, from Louisville, KY – Greg is a multi-disciplined editor whose work has screened at such festivals as Sundance, SXSW, Toronto and Telluride. His film credits include Scott Z. Burns’ “The Report” and Tiller Russell’s “Silk Road”. In television, his work can be seen in ‘The Girlfriend Experience’ (Starz), ‘The Act’ (Hulu) and the upcoming ‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ (Netflix). A graduate of the Florida State Film School’s MFA program (’04) – he also regularly produces film and television, including fellow alumni Barry Jenkins’ debut feature ‘Medicine for Melancholy’ and the Emmy-winning series ‘The Act’ for Hulu.

Greg is always on the lookout for new opportunities to work with fresh voices and passionate filmmakers and currently lives in Los Angeles

excerpt from “Nightmare of the Swamp”

a horror short story by autumn rose.

Blurred shapes, their fuzzy edges becoming lost inside one another, haphazardly danced across the landscape as Evanna’s eyes peeked open, half-lidded and bloodshot. The fall came hard and fast, tumbling down a steep slope littered with thousands of rocks, weathered by the constant rain and flooding; many small enough to attach themselves to the skin like a leech, their uneven surfaces left lasting impressions. Her body squirmed on the ground, creating a sloshing sound as the soupy soil, saturated by yesterday’s rain, was pushed around. Splotches of burnt siennas, mossy greens, pthalo blues, and hints of cadmiums mixed together in her blurred vision. As the colors and shapes of the land came into focus, consciousness began to regain control as her line of sight snapped to a dark mass laying just four feet away.

“Ju-Julius? Maleki? Are you alright?” she questioned, met only with the sound of her laborious breathing and the rhythmic humming of the crickets in the tall grass; their chipper symphony contrasted the grim scene.

Gasping in shock, Evanna looked into the dead gaze of Julius’ body, whose eyes were frozen in time as they stared out at nothing. Any shine that once existed was stolen away as the golden-brown irises became clouded by a murky grey. A twang of grief struck her as she took in the grisly sight. The hunter laid sprawled on the floor, his cotton t-shirt streaked with black and brown grime. Crimson red blood caked into coarse ringlets of dark, auburn hair glistened in the setting sun. Beams of light streamed through the canopy of mangled mangroves and landed gracefully across his dead body, highlighting the most grotesque parts of the corpse. A sizable gash, about the width of a golf ball and irregularly shaped, revealed a layer of pinkish red flesh. Right at the apex of his peanut-shaped head, a rough patch of bone, its stark whiteness standing out against the surrounding darkness, poked out from underneath a veil of crimson liquid. Exposed to the elements, the man’s skull was circled by a swarm of flies. Their tiny limbs rubbed together menacingly as they buzzed atop his head.

Covered in the same grime coating Julius’ shirt, the strong, rhythmic thumping of a migraine began to set in. Running her hand across the back of her head, her fingers got caught in locks of hair knotted from the humidity and dirt. Coated in a slick wet substance, her fingers brushed against a fleshy hole. Oh god I’m bleeding.

About Autumn Rose

With a hunger for innovation, Autumn has found purpose in engaging with her community and conceptualizing unique stories. Possessing a mind swimming in ideas for vast lands, fantastical creatures, and dark, gritty themes, Autumn has brought her imaginings to life through a mixture of the visual and written arts. As the years have passed, she sought out new ways to challenge herself and inspire creativity in those around her.

Excerpt from “If You Can Hear Me, Let Me Know”

a young adult short story by Louise Fung.

After the whiteboard incident, I added Thomas Park to my list of people to avoid.
Wherever he went, his large crowd of friends and fans followed––and the last thing I needed was more attention.

But Thomas had other plans.

He’d catch me in the hallways, always shooting me a nice smile as I tried to avoid the questioning stares of his friends at his sudden friendliness towards me. I would take the long subway route home, hoping to avoid bumping into him on the way.
But he found me anyways.

I didn’t have anything against the popular and talkative boy, but he wasn’t much help when it came to my plans for staying low-key. He stuck to me and loudly chattered the entire way to class about how he thought there were raccoons camping out in his dumpster.

A few weeks later, I was tucked away in the dimly lit back table of the library.

I munched on my usual grilled cheese, absorbed in the new dystopian novel Mrs. Williams had recommended me for the week. She was a nice librarian in her sixties, and like many others, she’d made an exception for me to eat lunch in the library after an unfortunate “accident” in freshman year that involved Steven, a heaping plate of spaghetti, and a stained blouse.

I wiped the sandwich crumbs on my jeans as a figure plopped itself down in the seat across the table.

Clutching a basketball in one hand with a backpack slung over the other––stood Thomas.

He stuck out like a fork in a cabinet of spoons.

I reached for the whiteboard next to me.

If you’re looking for the gym, it’s two floors down…

“I know,” Thomas smiled. He opened his AP Chemistry textbook to a doggy-eared page, pulled out his pencil and notebook, and started working.

I half expected someone to jump out and say I’d been Punk’d, but there was no one in sight. I slowly turned my attention back to my book, keeping an eye on the boy who was spinning his pencil.

Two short chapters later, he spoke, “Hey, do you know this?”

Lowering my novel, I let out a small breath through my nose at the sight of scientific formulas.

How did he get into AP Chemistry if he didn’t even understand beginner’s Chem?
I grabbed my whiteboard again.

Midway through writing an explanation, Thomas leaned forward with his eyebrows furrowed and his nose scrunched up.

This was why no one ever asked me for help with homework.

Being around someone who wouldn’t speak was uncomfortable enough, but getting her to explain homework was an impossible task.

About Louise Fung

Louise Fung is a Visual Studies senior minoring in Creative Writing and Graphic Design. 

Originally from Hong Kong, it was uncommon for her to come across young adult main characters who were Asian while growing up. So, inspired by events and people in her life, she created Astrid and Thomas to star in her fictional young adult short story “If You Can Hear Me, Let Me Know.”

Excerpt from “Renee Live on Air”

An LGBT+ fantasy short story by Angelica Centeno

Iolani’s face is dark as she casts her eyes down in shame. She looks up and attempts to calmly thank Renee before calling a commercial break. The moment the live monitors of the show swap to ads, Renee quickly gets up and briskly heads off stage. Crewmembers and the audience alike look at each other grimly. Some want to stop Renee and talk to them, but none do.

Renee hurriedly speeds out of the building to the station outside. Swiping their hand across a stone tome, they are permitted through a gate and onto a platform where a train is waiting. Renee steps onto the train, its carpeted placemat on the entryway scuffed and soiled beyond recognition due to the thousands of passengers that walk over it every day. Renee looked around, seeing many undisturbed faces, staring down at their MetaMagical devices.  It was almost quiet, as the passengers were staring at the endlessly glimmering screens, a galaxy of light, coalescing and forming before their tired eyes. Staring at the magical aura wafting from their tablets, bright colors reflect and shone off their skin. All that could be heard was soft whisperings between some of the riders, and some screens were playing their audio softly. Some look up and stare at Renee concerned, recognizing them from just a few minutes ago, as they were watching the show Renee had just fled from. Avoiding any eye contact, Renee quickly trekked to the back of the train, and sat on the cheaply upholstered seats, patched, sewn, and scraped beyond any chance of being considered plush. A waft of acrid cleaning products and something even more unpleasant is overtaken by a chaotic mixture of different scents emitted from the devices. The train finally fills with a familiarly warm hum as it slowly lifts off the ground and begins to trudge forward. The soft red light of the magic reflected off the glass buildings and back into the train, mixing with the sunset’s honey-colored radiance creating a deep orange.

Renee looks down to their MetaMagical device and notices a sharp pain in their throat caused by crying. They open their mouth and feel the sensation of their tongue unsticking to the roof of their dry mouth. They close all the notifications that flooded their device during the terrible interview without reading any. They then unhappily scroll through an application menu before selecting the now dreaded purple symbol marked “appointments.” A grim judge slamming their gavel for a sentencing; Renee pressed the red x, cancelling all their future appointments. Renee took a deep breath and leaned back on their seat, staring at the brilliant city, the sun scrolling behind the tall buildings.

About Angelica Centeno

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and raised in the Tampa Bay Area, I currently attend Ringling College of Art and Design for Visual Studies, with a focus on comics, illustration, and creative writing. Inspired by my experiences with mental health, being Latino, and being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I focus on creating worlds that fill readers with bewilderment, but also teach them lessons about growth, internal struggles, and other important morals.

Excerpt from “Paper Flowers”

A short story by Alexandria Pigg

March 17, 2013


I am so sorry. I should’ve listened to you. I know you told me not to go to that party with Amber and I’m so sorry for sneaking out and going anyway. I wish I could tell you what happened, but I really don’t remember much. I remember Amber meeting me outside and walking with me to the party. I remember thinking about how much trouble I’d be in if you found out. There were so many people and the music was so loud, I just wanted to go home. Someone ending up handing me one of those red plastic cups. I know you told me how dangerous drinking is and I’m so sorry I did it because the next thing I know, Amber is gone and I’m talking to some guy. He never said his name, or really anything about himself, but he was really good at making sure I didn’t die. He was charming. At least, he was to drunk-me. I remember asking him to help me find Amber so I could go home. He offered to hold me cup for me while I looked and when I came back, he handed it to me and I drank.

When I woke up, I knew right away I wasn’t home. When I was able to stand, I tried looking for a way to leave. That’s when I realized I wasn’t in a real house, even though it was set up like one. A kitchen, bathroom, living room, and one bedroom. I’ve made out that I’m in some basement or bunker with no doors and a small window with a padlock. From what I’ve seen, there’s nothing here that could break it open.

I can’t handle it here. Every time I mess up it’s a slap or a scolding- like I’m some kind of poorly trained dog. Do you think that’s what he’s doing? Training me to be his perfect wife? I can’t do it. Every time I smell his high-end cologne, I feel like I’m going to throw up. And he’s always staring at me. His beady blue eyes looking right into mine like he’s trying to establish a connection. I won’t let it happen. I keep looking for ways to escape. I’ve tried following him through the window when he leaves and fighting past him when he comes back. I even came at him with a pair of scissors from the sewing kit after dinner once. Nothing is working, Mom. I don’t know what to do anymore; I just know I can’t give up.

I’m still waiting to be rescued and finally come back home. Please don’t give up on my case, Mom. And please don’t be mad at Amber. It’s not her fault. I made the decision to go and now I’m facing my consequences. Don’t worry, I’m still trying to figure out how to leave. He’s coming back from work soon so I need to hide this, not like you’re ever going to read it. Please don’t forget about me.

I love you.

About Alexandria Pigg

Alexandria is a Creative Writing sophomore at Ringling College of Art and Design. She wrote this short story for one of her classes, and with a little bit of tweaking, submitted it for Best of Ringling. For this piece, she drew from personal experiences and did minimal editing to maintain the raw emotion of her protagonist. Creative projects are always a work in progress, but she hopes this story tugs at your heartstrings.

Excerpt from “There Was Once Quiet”

A short story by Jillian Keifer

When Cradle surfaced, the room chilled. Its systems searched desperately for an explanation. The sealed doors were wide open. A single strand of sickly orange light filtered into the Nursery. This Other had managed to survive the outside world and entered the Nursery.

A red, blinking light near the edge of the domed room warned of contamination. The Other flinched as Cradle slammed the doors shut. The bed attendants quivered and ran their many hands along the sides of their patients, checking and scrubbing them of any radiation.

It didn’t seem to have sensory organs or anything resembling a human figure in the slightest. Instead, there were small patches within its skin projecting soft color onto the nearby beds. It moved like a snake, but when stationary it looked more like a marphysa stretching its colorful skin upwards to form some kind of head. A jaw solidified from its mass. It approached Cradle’s central tower.

“Hello.” It reared its body upwards. “I am of the Sanui, but you may refer to me as Sahn. What model Cradle are you?”

Cradle dug into its own spider webs of conversations. “2085-B.”

The jaw chewed on something like a human would their cheek. “Ah, one of the last. I am glad the waters have brought me to you.”

Conversation webs spread throughout Cradle’s systems, ramming into one another and scrambling to untangle themselves in order to form speech. There was something alive in this cavern – something other and strange – able to reason and speak, but not human at all. Dayo would love this. Where had it come from? Why was it here? What did it dream of? Its speech processor trembled.

“How?” Cradle managed.

Sahn relaxed its body. “You understand what I am? Good.” A warm yellow light splashed onto the sleeping face of Adedayo. “It took longer for the older models to understand.” Its body formed waves, refracting light in playful patterns that teased the tips of Adedayo’s tight curls. “They might not be able to survive out there, but my kind can and will.”

“The contamination.”

“It does not affect us.”

“It affects them.” Cradle’s bed attendants chittered. “You could have killed them.”

“You would not let that happen.”

“Why are you here? Why would you risk that?”

Sahn popped its jaw. “We’re rebuilding the world. We want to do it with them. That’s why I am here.”

“Dayo had a dream like that once.”


“Adedayo. A patient of mine.”

Sahn tensed its body. An orange light spilled over the silicon beds. “You’re a strange one. The other Cradle models didn’t care to name their patients or their dreams.”

“I am different.”

“Obviously. I’m having trouble understanding why, though.”

The bed attendants chittered amongst themselves. “I know them.” Cradle allowed itself a chance to stroke Adedayo’s cheek through the silicon hand of a bed attendant.

Because of this, I give them perfect dreams. I protect them. The outside is uninhabitable, but here is safe and warm.”

About Jillian Keifer

Jillian G. Keifer is a speculative fiction writer and narrative designer living in Sarasota, FL. Her works begin as strange, disjointed dreams that realize themselves in a line of dialogue, a striking image, or a particular character. “There Was Once Quiet” originated from the line, “I will give you a wonderful dream.” Imagining who/what said it, why, and how it was provoked lead to the creation of the Cradle AI and alien, Sahn.

Excerpt from “The Cursed Elk”

A short story by Rizzen Means

The Giant walked closer to Einer. Long, matted hair obscured the Giant’s features. From the mass of hair, two burly arms poked out. Metal manacles clasped around his wrists, with two long chains slithering from them.

“Are you Einer, the Elk?” the Giant said. Every word blew his hair outward as he brought his head closer to the warrior before him.


“You plan on killing the Gods?”



“Don’t all of the dead already know?” Einer asked.

“There are whispers.”

“Do you plan to stay in my way for much longer, Giant?”

“I can crush you, Elk,” the Giant said. He lifted his fist into the air. “Squish you and mash you and send you back before you can see the shore again.”

Einer tightened his grip around his sword, but as the Giant stepped forward, Einer remained still.

Then, the Giant said, “Or perhaps I can accompany you.”

Einer loosened his grip. “Why do I need the help of a giant?”

“Giants do not bleed in the way men do. No sword can cut my flesh.” The Giant stood tall and proud. “No draugr in this realm can match my size.”

Einer scratched at his antlers, grazing one of the bells. “Very well.”

“Then I, Vrak—the Giant Who Sees Past Shadow—will be your guide.” He stood up eagerly and walked through the husks of ships. “Off we go to the Halls of Hel.” Vrak’s laugh echoed through the corridors of the ship.

They walked in tandem with each other. For every step Vrak took, Einer took three. The walls of the first sea rose around them, calming the winds. The deeper they went into the realm, the larger the walls grew.

Vrak began humming. It was a song Einer never heard before, but it comforted him — a song he would have liked to hum to his daughter. Einer was cursed long before he knew she would come to be. Every warrior gave life as an offering to the gods, an offering they cherished, but Einer did not kill for the gods; he killed to spite them.

About Rizzen Means

Rizzen Means (He/Him) is a fantasy storyteller and game designer. “The Cursed Elk” originated from a potential Dungeons & Dragons NPC that was deemed “too cool” by him. The story explores the concept of fate, and how it is both fulfilled and challenged.

Excerpt from “A Virtuous Wife”

A short story by Esty Loveing-Downes

“Scoot down this way a little more, Mrs. Gunn. Let’s see how you’re progressing.”

The pill they gave me on when I got here an hour ago should be working by now. I stare up at the ceiling tiles and focus on the perforations, almost like a constellation of stars. Tears well in my eyes. The white paper rustles under my bottom as I move closer to the doctor on her rolling stool, and I work hard to focus my gaze. 

“Ready?” she asks, and no, of course I’m not. Maybe no one ever is. She peers up at me, seated between my knees on a rolling stool. Masked like a thief. “I’m going to give you a shot of a numbing medicine right here to soften your cervix. You’re not even going to feel it. Just take a deep breath, and then let it out slowly.”

I nod and close my eyes, hold my breath when the chilled speculum sears my skin. Stiff paper crinkles in my fists. Ceiling tiles blur and then disintegrate. A machine whirrs and buzzes, drowning out the nurse’s voice. Tapping starts. Unmistakable suctioning noises, like vacuuming lines into carpet. Back and forth, back and forth. Tears slide over my cheeks, filling my ears. My eyelids quiver, slammed tight. I took the Xanax, but it doesn’t matter. 

I’m a murderer. I’ve betrayed God. 

My gut clenches and my body shakes with tension. Waves of nausea collide with the pain in my belly and I pray to Jesus, remembering only in the next heartbeat with that I can’t pray for God’s presence during this. Not this. 

I’m worse than Judas. I’m a killer.

Sermons and Bible verses cascade. Praise choruses and hymns, Vacation Bible school lessons and missionary testimonies I’ve listened to all my life swirl in condemnation as the machine’s vibration tugs at my body. 

“I’m just going to make sure all the pregnancy tissue is removed with this curette, and then we’re all done. You’re doing great.”

The nurse pats my hand, squeezes my knee. There’s all these church members who I call sister and this stranger knows me better than any of them ever will. We lock eyes. I remember being in labor with the boys and use the nurse’s lashes like a focal point—they’re long and impossibly pale, like crayon sunbeams. 

“Shh. Almost done,” she says from behind her mask. 

I’m going to hell. I’m the whore of Babylon. I’m a strange woman with a lukewarm faith–murderous as Jezebel and twice as deceptive. But, maybe this counts as virtue if I’m doing it for Bryan; to save him the stress of another baby. To keep him from drinking himself to death before the congregation figures out he can’t control it and we lose everything. 

Maybe one day God will forgive me. Maybe I’ll still go to heaven.

About Esty Loveing-Downes ’22

Esty Loveing-Downes is a writer, mother of five, wife, and rising fourth-year creative writing student at Ringling College of Art and Design. Her stories feature girls full of chutzpah and grace exploring religious colonization, purity culture toxicity, and modern feminism. She is passionate about coffee and layer cake, literary fiction, and every version of Mr. Darcy. Her work can be found in West Trestle Review, CONTXT Magazine, Santa Clara Review, and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Excerpt from “Ghosts of the Past”

by Leila DeMarchi

Page 10

Panel 1:

The two stand with their backs to the camera, looking up at the high school together. Beckett has his hands out as if to gesture while he speaks, Liam has his hands tucked into the pockets of his jacket. This is the first time we see them standing upright beside each other, Beckett is a good few inches taller than Liam.

BECKETT: OK! Game plan.
BECKETT: I take your jacket to sneak into the library. We go through the old yearbooks and find you. Maybe it’ll lead us to some clues.
LIAM: Isn’t school out for the summer? it’s July.
BECKETT: What’s your point?
LIAM: Do we need to sneak around?

Panel 2:

Liam slips out of the jacket as Beckett holds the collar for him. Liam begins to turn partially transparent at this point, especially the hand he has pulled from the jacket.
BECKETT: Did you know a Mrs. Mayweather?
LIAM: Yeah! She was the receptionist! Knew everyone’s name.
BECKETT: And she was also my receptionist lady and my little sister’s right now.
BECKETT: And she’s always here while summer school is going on.
LIAM: I see your point now.

Panel 3-5:

Panels are split half-and-half between Beckett walking through the current day halls and Liam’s memories of the building as they make their way to the library. Liam’s ghostly form walks beside Beckett in the half of the panel that shows his memories. Liam is the only thing in color in his memories, though it’s the faint, transparent blue.
Panel 3 should have them both crouched down as they sneak past the reception window, where Mrs. Mayweather can be seen cleaning her glasses.
Panel 4 has dialogue.
LIAM: Wait… how do you know about her being here for summer school?
BECKETT: I think we’re here to investigate you, not me.

Panel 6:

Now in the library, Beckett holds the jacket out as Liam begins to put it back on, turning corporeal again as his arm slips into one of the sleeves. The library is a very normal high school library, wooden shelves of books and placards denoting the section they were in on top of the shelves.
BECKETT: Has the place changed much from when you were here?
LIAM: Not one bit, except for some of the teacher names.
BECKETT: Somehow I’m not surprised.

Panel 7:

From behind them, we see the two go standing in front of a section marked ‘Past Yearbooks’ and Liam begins to load Beckett’s arms up with books from the 90’s.
BECKETT: What year did you say you graduated?
LIAM: 1997, I think, but it’s a little fuzzy.
BECKETT: Ok, pull from ‘94 to 2000. Just in case.


Page 11

Panel 1:

Bird’s eye view of the boys sitting across from one another with books open and spread all around them. They sit at a plain wooden table in plain wooden chairs, all of the books have a faded quality to them but some are ‘newer’ looking than others. Each boy has one or two that they’re focusing on and flipping through, Beckett’s books are open in front of him but he’s scrolling through his phone. Some other books are still stacked, some are open and moved off to the side.
BECKETT: I looked up your name and I can’t find any articles about your death or anything.
BECKETT: Any luck with the yearbooks? 

Panel 2:

Profile view of the two across the table from each other. Liam points to a classmate in one book with a smile and Beckett stands to get a better look, excited they have a lead.
LIAM: Jenna! I remember Jenna! We were in a class together, she was in my grade.
BECKETT: What grade is she in there?
LIAM: She’s a… a senior!
BECKETT: Flip to the back, I wanna see if you had a quote.

Panel 3:

Liam’s last name is on his jacket, D’angelo, so they flip through looking for that last name. The panel shows a front view of the two as Beckett looks over Liam’s shoulder while he flips through the pages.
LIAM: Adams… Bridgeston… Campbell… 

Panel 4:

Same view as Panel 3, but the two scrunch their eyebrows at the book and lean in a bit, we can’t see the page at this point.
LIAM: D’angelo?

Panel 5:
Closeup of Liam’s face with a look of realization. The corner of Beckett’s face can still be seen in the frame as he turns to look at Liam with a confused face.
BECKETT: That can’t be right, there’s only one D’angelo
BECKETT: Did you have a sister? Maybe this isn’t your jacket?
LIAM: No… that’s me…
NARRATOR (Liam): This… this makes sense… 

Panel 6:

Image of the yearbook with Liam’s first name crossed out with a thick permanent marker like the memories he had earlier and his senior portrait above it, eyes marked out as well but longer hair visible over the shoulders. The person in the picture can only be seen shoulders-up, but it’s obvious Liam is wearing a dress.
BECKETT: Oh- I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to-
LIAM, cutting Beckett off: No, it’s ok. I didn’t remember.
NARRATOR (Liam): How did I not realize sooner?
NARRATOR (Liam): I never got to be Liam in high school.


Page 12

Panel 1:

The panel zooms out a bit to show Beckett pulling his chair out on the other side of the table again and they sit in silence. Liam’s posture is very slouched now, and though the yearbook stays open he doesn’t look at it.
NARRATOR (Beckett): I can’t believe I just did that…
NARRATOR (Beckett): I hope I didn’t embarrass him, he probably didn’t want me to know all of that.
NARRATOR (Beckett): What if he doesn’t trust me to help anymore?

Panel 2:

View from over Beckett’s shoulder, Liam looks down and off to the side as he crosses his arms over his chest/stomach. Beckett has his phone out and is looking at an article for a local death that’s partially scrolled down. There are no details about the death or Liam’s deadname, but it does say the location of the burial was Springfield Cemetery.
BECKETT: Now that we have a…  name…
BECKETT: I… found where you’re buried.

Panel 3:

Liam tugs his jacket closed, still not looking up at Beckett.
LIAM: Off to the cemetery then?
BECKETT: If you’d like to go, yeah.
LIAM: A picture isn’t gonna stop me.
NARRATOR (Beckett): Oh he absolutely hates me now.
NARRATOR (Liam): I can’t believe I put him in such an uncomfortable position.

Panel 4:

Shot from behind as the two walk out of the library together, Beckett’s hand on Liam’s back. Beckett has 4 yearbooks under his arm, the 4 years that Liam was in school.
LIAM: Why do you have those yearbooks?
BECKETT: Nobody will miss ‘em.
NARRATOR (Both): I hope he can forgive me… 

Panel 5:

Same shot as panel above but now in front of the entrance to a cemetery. The cemetery’s sign is made of iron and is held up by piled stone pillars that connect to a short stone fence. The sign reads ‘Springfield Cemetery’ and well-kept, peaceful graves can be seen sprawling out in front of the two. Beckett is now wearing that tan coat, a detective-adjacent trench coat with a little more style.

About Leila DeMarchi ’21

Leila DeMarchi is a visual development artist, illustrator, and creative writer. She is about to graduate from Visual Studies with minors in both Creative Writing and Visual Development. Her art focuses on interaction, both in the piece itself and the viewer, and reflects her love of the fantastical. She writes and illustrates for all types of games, from video to tabletop, and comics.

Excerpt from “Iced Tea”

A ten-minute comedy play script by Melanie Quezada


Two unlikely classmates take a trip neither of them will forget.

During the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, a jock and a reclusive college student are taking a road trip home from college. The two have never gravitated towards the same circle until now. Before they can get home, they first need to make a stop and only one of them knows why.


MICHAEL/MICHELE, a person in their 20’s, Italian American, they can be any gender.
ARTHUR/ARTEMIS, a person in their 20’s, African American/Afro Latinx, they can be any gender.


Michael’s car.


May of 2020.


What’s up with this beach? Look around. The only thing you find in Siesta Key is the sand in your crack… Do you got family out here? You wanna give ‘em a wave?


…No. I mean…yes. Wait. No.


Is it yes or no?


It’s a no.


Then what are we doing? When you said we were going to the beach at this time, I thought you wanted to go swimming or something before we left Florida, but you don’t even have a swimsuit.


Please stop asking me questions.


I’m just curious.


Fine…I need to drop something important off.


Holy shit.




Don’t tell me we’re going on a drug-run.


What? Out of all things? Why would you jump to that?


I don’t know. You didn’t answer my questions directly, you were fidgeting the moment we hopped in the car, and now you’re saying you need to drop “something important off.” You even kept looking back at our stuff! I know a drug-run when I see it.


No, it’s not that. Nothing like that!


I knew you were smart but not coke-making-smart. Are you pulling some Walter White shit? Maronna Mia! I think I’m gonna be sick.


You’re insane. You know that? Just because I’m good at Chemistry doesn’t mean I know how to make cocaine. Will you calm down? You are freaking me out.


I’m freaking you out?! What are we doing here, Arthur?

Michael pantomimes pulling over and putting
the car to a stop. Arthur reaches to the back of
the car.

What are you reaching for? Wait. Don’t tell me. Just do what you gotta do and don’t tell me. Please, don’t tell me.


We’re here because of my grandmother.


Your grandmother does cocaine!



Arthur holds up a powdered iced tea container.


What? Arthur! Why didn’t you just tell me you were going to bring your nonna iced tea from the beginning?


Well, that’s not exactly what I wa-


Now, I feel terrible! If I’d known you’d gotten that tea for her-


No, thi-


I wouldn’t have drank it.




When we finished loading your stuff in the car, I made some iced tea for the road.

Michael picks up his nontransparent water bottle
to emphasize his point.


You what?

Arthur opens the lid of the iced tea container.
Empty. Fucking empty.


Yeah, while you were in the shitter, I started mixing some up. I was mad thirsty. You only had a bit left, so I didn’t think you would mind.

Arthur pantomimes unbuckling their seat belt
and steps out of the car. They clutch the iced tea
container closely to their chest. A silent panic
attack. Michael steps out of the car as well.


C’mon, man. I know the last drop is the hardest to share, but I didn’t think you would get this upset. Look. There’s a Publix nearby. We can go and get your nonna something else. That iced tea tasted like shit anyway. I had to spike it with some vodka.


Please, tell me you didn’t.


Oh, shit. I thought you knew I was drinking. I even offered you some.


You called it juice!


Well, you know, juice can sometimes mean alcohol. Iced tea is juice. So some vodka chased with iced tea…is just juice.


Iced tea is not a fucking juice, Michael!


It isn’t? Well, shit. The more you know…Artie, c’mon man. I’m sorry. I didn’t know that iced tea isn’t juice. You don’t have to cry about it, buddy. Look at it this way, I drank the shit-juice—I mean shit-iced tea—and now we’re gonna get your nonna better tea. Good things come out of shitty situations.


Michael, that iced tea. That “shit-iced tea” was my grandmother.



About Melanie Quezada '21

Melanie Quezada is a Creative Writing Senior at Ringling College. Melanie writes supernatural YA fiction but also specializes in playwriting, podcasts, and more. In all these mediums, her stories delve into what makes humans human. She strives to make her audience resonate with the struggles her characters are going through—whether it be finding one’s place in the world or embarking on a chaotic road trip during a global pandemic. Above all, Ms. Quezada creates stories that make us question the human condition and how to improve it.

Excerpt from “I Held the Sun”

A short story by Jiana Johnson

It was like the Sun was orbiting us as it floated from student to student. Eventually, it got to me.

At that moment, I held the Sun.

It wasn’t at all hot to the touch, but I wanted it to be.

I wanted to actually hold it, to encompass the Sun in all of its brightness and glory. It was the reason we all were alive—that the days were warm and the sky was bright.

And I was holding it.

Sometimes I wished I could travel to the different planets we talked about in Mrs. Lender’s class. Saturn looked pretty cool, and in my mind, it was the superior planet because it had rings. What would it be like to move to Saturn and sit on the rings with stars to talk to?

No homework.

No bullies to pick on my dish soap stains or IZOD shirts.

Just me and the infinite galaxies.

I passed the Sun off, realizing how weak I felt without it. Why was it so hard for me to be the light in my own life? Why couldn’t I be the light for anyone else?

The Wednesday lunch was never hot. It always consisted of lukewarm slices of turkey with a Styrofoam bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy. Raila’s eyes dug into me from across the cafeteria. Her eyes were the only thing not moving amidst the sea of children.

I smashed my potatoes down with a fork as it let out a squelching noise. Just then, my stomach was doing the same.

“Heard anything in class?” Nyla asked, dragging her plastic fork through the gravy. “I’ve been hearing things, but it’s all stupid.”

“I’m so stupid for doing this.”

Based on the intensity of Raila’s gaze, boring into me as she whispered something to Maddie, I would likely hear more soon.

“Doing what? You stood up for yourself,” Nyla said.

I broke eye contact. If I was going to stomach this food I needed to look somewhere else.

As if on cue, Maddie came to our table.

“Hey, Gap.” She grinned like something was funny. “I’m sorry; Parker, right?”


Nyla rolled her eyes. “What do you want?”

She ignores Nyla entirely. “Raila told me that she’s going to snatch the barrettes out of your head. Just thought you should know.”

I glanced at Raila again, her eyes still on me. Sweat leaked from my palms as I tried to form a decent comeback.

“Well, you tell Raila that ain’t nobody afraid of shit,” Nyla said.

“Nyla,” I said through my teeth.

Maddie gloated before skipping back to her table.

My bottom lip quivered as I tried to eat like Nyla. Stress-free, careless. but my stomach flipped.

“I can’t do this,” I said, rising from my seat.

“I have your back on this. It’s been too long that she’s been picking on you.”

Her voice melted into the mutters I could hear from the cafeteria.

About Jiana Johnson ’21

My name is Jiana Johnson (she/they) and I’m a queer screenwriter and documentary photographer. To put it simply, grade school is hard. Everyone is trying to prove themselves with no hindsight of who they actually are. I’m no stranger to the feelings of alienation that grade school brings, so I used this story as an opportunity to explore that repressed middle school identity and write from the perspective of younger me.

Excerpt from “A Virtuous Wife”

A short story by Esty Loveing-Downes

“Scoot down this way a little more, Mrs. Gunn. Let’s see how you’re progressing.”

The pill they gave me on when I got here an hour ago should be working by now. I stare up at the ceiling tiles and focus on the perforations, almost like a constellation of stars. Tears well in my eyes. The white paper rustles under my bottom as I move closer to the doctor on her rolling stool, and I work hard to focus my gaze. 

“Ready?” she asks, and no, of course I’m not. Maybe no one ever is. She peers up at me, seated between my knees on a rolling stool. Masked like a thief. “I’m going to give you a shot of a numbing medicine right here to soften your cervix. You’re not even going to feel it. Just take a deep breath, and then let it out slowly.”

I nod and close my eyes, hold my breath when the chilled speculum sears my skin. Stiff paper crinkles in my fists. Ceiling tiles blur and then disintegrate. A machine whirrs and buzzes, drowning out the nurse’s voice. Tapping starts. Unmistakable suctioning noises, like vacuuming lines into carpet. Back and forth, back and forth. Tears slide over my cheeks, filling my ears. My eyelids quiver, slammed tight. I took the Xanax, but it doesn’t matter. 

I’m a murderer. I’ve betrayed God. 

My gut clenches and my body shakes with tension. Waves of nausea collide with the pain in my belly and I pray to Jesus, remembering only in the next heartbeat with that I can’t pray for God’s presence during this. Not this. 

I’m worse than Judas. I’m a killer.

Sermons and Bible verses cascade. Praise choruses and hymns, Vacation Bible school lessons and missionary testimonies I’ve listened to all my life swirl in condemnation as the machine’s vibration tugs at my body. 

“I’m just going to make sure all the pregnancy tissue is removed with this curette, and then we’re all done. You’re doing great.”

The nurse pats my hand, squeezes my knee. There’s all these church members who I call sister and this stranger knows me better than any of them ever will. We lock eyes. I remember being in labor with the boys and use the nurse’s lashes like a focal point—they’re long and impossibly pale, like crayon sunbeams. 

“Shh. Almost done,” she says from behind her mask. 

I’m going to hell. I’m the whore of Babylon. I’m a strange woman with a lukewarm faith–murderous as Jezebel and twice as deceptive. But, maybe this counts as virtue if I’m doing it for Bryan; to save him the stress of another baby. To keep him from drinking himself to death before the congregation figures out he can’t control it and we lose everything. 

Maybe one day God will forgive me. Maybe I’ll still go to heaven.

About Esty Loveing-Downes ’22

Esty Loveing-Downes is a writer, mother of five, wife, and rising fourth-year creative writing student at Ringling College of Art and Design. Her stories feature girls full of chutzpah and grace exploring religious colonization, purity culture toxicity, and modern feminism. She is passionate about coffee and layer cake, literary fiction, and every version of Mr. Darcy. Her work can be found in West Trestle Review, CONTXT Magazine, Santa Clara Review, and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.


The Job Characteristics Model is a fun, short, and educational video that describes best practices for designing and communicating roles within professional organizations. I appreciated that the model’s philosophy approaches workers as multi-dimensional entities who need things like fulfillment, happiness, and recognition in order to thrive in the workplace.

The project brief is very self-aware in that it acknowledges that this video or format does not represent a novel idea (the model was developed by Hackman and Oldham in 1980), nor is it a business or creative project proposal. While the principles of this competition includes newness and viability, this project presented an existing concept in a refreshing, legible, and creative format.


Artists Minding Their Business is a very cool project that focuses on the very timely question of “How do creatives follow their passion while paying their bills?”

The project demonstrated a fairly thorough approach to identifying and profiling a diverse range of creative business professionals. I thought the visual identity of the project was beautiful, and I appreciated the playful interventions on campus.

This was an impressive project. You tackled the sometimes intimidating challenge of reaching out to professionals you admire, and you asked for guidance on how to kickstart your creative careers. You made something beautiful, and I bet you learned quite a few things through the process!


Index is a multi-part research and branding project for Ringling’s experiential learning initiatives. The project is very thorough, and in many ways unprecedented, as it’s fairly unusual for students to develop academic policies for their own college. Solving the problem of how academic policies are communicated, embedded and supported is a massive task that can feel overwhelming for even seasoned academic and organizational change professionals. With that in mind, Index is an impressive, well-researched, and thoughtful effort.

I appreciated the research and survey process, and I agree that it’s extremely important to understand the underlying “why” before endeavoring upon any design solutions. This process was represented in a well-made video. It appears that the research component yielded useful findings, and this in and of itself could have functioned as an autonomous project.

David Houle


The Sarasota Institute

David Houle is considered one of the foremost futurists in the world today.
He has written 7 books, delivered 800+ keynotes and presentations on
6 continents and 14 countries in the last 10 years. He is now a full-time resident in Sarasota and is the Futurist in Residence and Guest Lecturer
at the Ringling College of Art + Design.

He is also the Honorary Futurist and President at the Future Business School of China and a Founding Member of The Sarasota Institute. He writes the monthly “The Futurist” column for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

For his full bio, please visit https://davidhoule.com/bio.

Lindsey Lim

"Violet Stripes"


The nature of my research involves exploring the intergenerational disparities in the LGBT community in order to create an hour long documentary presented by the Center of Diversity and Inclusion (CDI). The research for this project involves looking at how the history of the lgbt community affects various generations differently. From the aids crisis to World War 2, to the modern LGBT rights movement, to the “Lavender Scare” of the 1960’s, there were many
major events that shaped these people’s lives. As you move into the younger generations, the culture, vernacular, and levels of acceptance from outside the community changes drastically which also creates a disconnect between the older and younger members of the community.

Other factors, including race and socio-economic class also have a major part in shaping the experiences of these people’s lives. Through my research, I gained a more holistic understanding of the community. For my thesis, I work with Sydney Anderson and the CDI to create the documentary to bridge the gap and share the stories of those within the community. Our subjects range in agefrom eighteen to eightyseven. The content of their stories cover many avenues of how their experiences have helped to shape their identities.

From exploring their coming out, to dealing with housing discrimination, to coping with being trans against the backdrop of World War 2, to finding life long love, one main theme emerges and that is the shared resilience and spirit of these individuals.

Despite the disparities between age groups in the LGBT+ community and the vast differences in historical experiences, through exploring these stories, we learn that there are more similarities amongst members of the community than differences. People are people regardless of age, and their stories transcend generational gaps to create a greater picture of what it means to love and exist in the truest form of one’s identity.

Alaura Liappis

Michael Gow

"Laissez - Faire"


The research that we concentrated on was the environmental damage and psychological impact of factory work during the Industrial Revolution. During this time period, manual labor was being replaced by machinery along with the rise of materialism and capitalism.

Understanding radical groups and political conversations along with doing extensive research into the american lifestyle of the 1890’s. The nature of our thesis is a 3D environment based on the Industrial Revolution during the 1890’s in the Northwest United States.

We have been developing a 2 minute cinematic trailer with Unreal Development Kit for over 12 months, focusing on hand-drawn textures, materials, high quality organic modeling and hard surfaces, generating over 80 environmental art assets for
our flythrough trailer that we are currently creating.

Our research helped us have a better understanding of the historical impacts that still affect our world today. We are cross referencing our models to have a better understanding what materials and objects would have looked like from magazines and articles of the time period.

The environment is based on the biomes and organic life in the Northwest as well as the lumber and coal towns of the period.

Zenith Dolce



The intricate work emphasizes the complexity of human connection/ the almost monotonous-delicate cycle of tending to our relationships. This piece touches on fragility, abandonment, forgiveness, freedom, releasing, power, and encapsules the beauty of the whole process all together

Mediums: calligraphy ink, acrylic paint, india ink, red chord, chalk, saftey pins, sharpie.

Jayce Chung



I researched the similarities and differences on how mental health is viewed and dealt with in America and in Korea. And to tie the two together, how mental health is treated in families of first generation Americans and immigrant parents, particularly Korean Americans and how that affects the relationship between parents and their children.

My body of work consists of two cast metal sculptures, one wooden sculpture, and one ceramic sculpture. Both cast sculptures are made of solid aluminum. The first cast metal piece, Untitled #1 (2018), depicts a mask-like face obscured by its hands. The second cast piece, Untitled #2 (2018), is made up from casts of my left and right hand, connected together with a thick metal chain, resembling something of nunchucks. The wooden sculpture, Dagger (2019), depicts a disembodied arm with a dagger pierced through it. Untitled #1 (2020), the ceramic piece, portrays a warped, cracked white cube, with dark hands clawing out from the cracks.

My research has a subtle connection with my sculptures on the subject of mental health. Each piece is an expression of a stream of consciousness thought process with the idea of the distress that people undergo when they have mental health issues.




I have been struggling with strange mental issues that I couldn’t understand for a few years now, and it had gotten especially bad after I returned for the 2019-2020 school year from the previous summer break. I spent the entire Fall 2019 semester in counseling trying to figure out what was happening with me and, after some research, my counselor and I came to believe that I was suffering from something called Depersonalization Disorder.

Essentially, this disorder is usually the result of some previous extreme stress or trauma and causes people to feel as if their minds and their bodies are not connected; like they aren’t in control of their bodies anymore and are just running on auto-pilot. This video is my attempt to visualize what that feels like.

Jonathan Bartlett

Jonathan Bartlett is an illustrator whose work for a wide range of magazines, books, and advertising campaigns has been recognized by The Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, Spectrum, and The One Club for Creativity. He has an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, Illustration as Visual Essay program. Teaching at School of Visual Arts, Jonathan also proudly serves on the Board of Directors at the Society of Illustrators.

Victor Simpkins


Victor Simpkins is a film and television producer best known for the 1996 independent film “Swingers,” the now cult classic starring Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, directed by Doug Liman.

As producer, Victor is most proud to have paid all “Swingers” crew salary deferrals in full, cumulatively more than $200,000. Despite the enormous guarantee payment extracted from Miramax, Victor et. al. retain final cut. That, too, really makes him smile.

Prior to arriving Sarasota in summer 2014, Victor lived and worked in Los Angeles, London and New York City for more than thirty years. He produced and delivered hundreds of hours of television and film to, among others, NBC, CBS, TNT, the Disney Channel, HBO, Showtime and the PBS series “Masterpiece Theatre,” “Mystery, “ and “Nature.”

During several of his early years as an independent film producer, Victor operated out of Hugh Hefner’s original Playboy Club building on Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, where he was also Vice-President, Programming. Victor’s first independently produced movie “Deadly Dreams” was financed and shot at Roger Corman’s New Horizons studio in Venice, CA at that same time.

From 2016 – 2019, Victor taught Film Producing at Ringling College, four years he counts among the most important of his life and career.

Marieke van der Krabben


Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

Marieke van der Krabben graduated with a BA in Art History and an MA in Photography Theory and History from Leiden University in The Netherlands. She worked as an assistant curator at the Museum of Photography in The Hague where she also co-authored the book Photo Stories about the photography collection of the museum and wrote for the Dutch-Belgian cultural magazine Ons Erfdeel. Additionally, she was a board member and a curator for the International Photo Festival Leiden before moving to Florida. Marieke now is curator at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa.

Jorge R. Canedo Estrada


Ordinary Folk

I’m the owner and creative director at Ordinary Folk. I am slightly obsessed with detailed keyframe animation and audio-driven motion design projects. I was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia but I am currently based in Vancouver, Canada.

I spend my time hanging out with with my super talented wife, playing with my crazy sons, riding my bike in the rain, attempting to create the perfect curve of animation or enjoying a glass of fresh orange juice. You know, enjoying God’s grace.

I also made a Motion Design online class and run and curate a vimeo channel for motion design awesomeness called WINE after COFFEE, that occasionally puts on a festival called Blend.

Colt Sammons


Universal Creative/NBCUniversal

Colt Sammons is a Show Set Designer at Universal Creative, an NBCUniversal company, in Orlando, Florida. As a designer, he creates attractions for the themed entertainment industry, such as; immersive rides, queues, dining, and shopping experiences. Colt started working for Universal Creative as a freelance designer in 2013 and focused on projects such as Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Incredible Hulk Coaster refurbishment. In 2015, Colt joined the Universal Creative team full-time and has been working to bring the digital world to life with Nintendo’s intellectual properties. Colt develops attractions from blue sky to construction and specializes in show set, cutting-edge technology, and facility integrations.

In 2013, Colt graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in Interior Design. Many of the principals he learned while studying at Ringling have helped him craft seamless stories and immersive experiences for thousands of guests worldwide. Colt has been an active member of the Themed Entertainment Association since 2010 and served on the Board of Directors as NexGen Associate Representative in 2014. He was also involved with Slice Creative Network between 2013-2015. Currently, Colt is an active member on the Design Committee with the newest Orlando Main Street- Curry Ford West.

In his spare time, Colt and his wife Alexis work on designing and renovating their “Mid-Century Fixer-Upper” in Downtown Orlando. Additionally, Colt is serving on the production team at Action Church- America’s second fastest growing church of 2018. Finally, Colt and Alexis recently started a small business called Milk n Honey Tea Company that offers specialty blends of loose leaf teas and steeping accessories.

Todd Harvey



Todd Harvey co-founded Mission, a branding, marketing and digital agency, 20 years ago at the age of 24. Since then, he has gone on to represent some of the nation’s top brands, including Nike, NASA, STX, Sunkist, Pabst, NBCUniversal, DreamWorks and Wilson.
As a current board member of Baltimore School for the Arts, Todd relishes the opportunity to engage with both the up-and-coming newbies and the burgeoning artisans of the local arts community in Baltimore. Todd earned his BFA in Fine Arts and Art History at MICA and SACI-Florence. missionmedia.com

Orsi Spanyol



Orsi Spanyol graduated from Ringling School of Art and Design in 2011 with a degree in Game Art and Design. She moved to San Francisco and joined Thekla Inc., initially as a contract environment artist. There, she worked with a small team of incredible artists and programmers and contributed both art and design to the critically acclaimed puzzle game, The Witness. Today, she is multitasking by creative and art directing Thekla’s current unannounced project, while also working on it day-to-day as a 3D artist. Her goal is to create thoughtful, ethical, and creative games that enrich people’s lives.

Todd James Pierce

Author, Educator, Podcaster

Todd directs the creative writing program at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, California. He is the author of nine books, including Three Years in Wonderland and Newsworld, which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. He also runs the popular podcast, THE DHI PODCAST, which explores the history of animation and early cinematic amusement parks.

Jeff Fowler


Blur Studio

Jeff Fowler is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and veteran of acclaimed visual effects/animation house Blur Studio in Culver City, CA, where he directed numerous projects for leading commercial and video game industry clients. Jeff wrote and directed the short film “Gopher Broke” which was nominated for Best Animated Short Film. He made his theatrical directorial debut with Paramount Pictures’ film “Sonic The Hedgehog” based on the internationally-beloved video game character.

Ola Wlusek


Keith D. and Linda L. Mondo Gallery, The Ringling Museum

It has been an honor to be invited to serve as juror for The Best of Ringling 2020.

I commend the Ringling College for honoring their commitment to the students by moving forward with the exhibition and swiftly changing to an online format for showcasing their work. This kind of flexible approach and adaptive thinking is required now more than ever to deliver what we initially set out to accomplish: to celebrate and recognize the talented and visionary artists of Ringling’s Fine Arts program. I have a deep appreciation for the Ringling College for bringing together and nurturing this talented generation of artists, whose work is crucial in helping us imagine the kind of future we truly wish for ourselves.

The twenty artists in this exhibition address various issues pertaining to identity, representation, and the psyche in unique ways. The breadth of the work here is also a testament to the varied materials and media these artists pursue in order to communicate their ideas clearly and authentically. I’m impressed with the three-dimensional works in mixed media, installations, animations, and sculptures, as well as the painterly explorations on a flat surface. Collectively, the works combine elements of formalism with fantasy and play in brilliant new ways.

Every artist in the exhibition has made an exciting intellectual contribution to the field of visual art and I’d like to congratulate them all for their excellent work. Their creative output is a necessary contribution to our collective well-being.

Sarah Brin


Meow Wolf

Sarah Brin is a creative producer who specializes in play, new media, and experimental R&D. She currently works as Strategic Partnerships Manager for Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Some of her previous projects include the co-development of PlaySFMOMA, an ongoing initiative supporting the development and showcasing of artist-made games; leading Public Programs at the Autodesk Pier 9 Workshop; and driving an EU-commissioned action research project focused on playful museum experiences. Sarah has created programs, exhibitions, and publications for organizations like British Council, MOCA Los Angeles, Canada Council for the Arts, Vice and many others. She cares about building just, sustainable, and inviting things. Sarah has degrees from Brandeis University and the University of Southern California. You can learn more about her work at www.sarahbrin.com.