The Jack and Lavon Brosseau Creativity Awards
The Brosseau Creativity Awards recognize outstanding creativity and originality among University of Kansas undergraduate students who engage in creative scholarly work in any discipline. Collaborative work is especially encouraged, in line with the Museum’s commitment to bringing together diverse peoples and ideas around a central topic or object.
Lavon Brosseau of Concordia, Kansas, established this award to encourage and reward creative work that has the potential to influence the cultural contributions of an emerging generation. In her words, “There is a deep and almost sacred beauty in literature and in art. Each may deal with the abstract and each may involve interpretation, but each has its own reality that permits the mind to explore and to soar.”
Two Brosseau Creativity Awards will be given, one each in the categories of writing and diverse media. The categories have deliberately been defined in very broad terms to encourage a wide range of submissions from all areas of study. The best creative work in any field evidences risk-taking and reflection, provides new insights, employs critical thinking, and generates new ways of understanding.
Learn more about the Brosseau Creativity awards and how to apply.
In the writing category, Samiya Rasheed and Isabelle Parisi, longtime friends from Overland Park, were recognized for their illustrated creative essay “Electrochemical Translation: The Continued Relevance of Loewi’s Experiments.” Both students are seniors, Rasheed with a double major in biology and psychology and Parisi with a double major in human biology and visual arts. The work centers on a metaphor comparing the translation of electricity and chemicals in neurons to miscommunication among family members. According to Rasheed, this was a true collaboration with Parisi that became “our own experiment into where the lines between science and art collapse.”
In the diverse media category, Raquel Ordoñez, of Goodland, was recognized for her video “Sweeping up the Pieces: The Story of the Lost City of Tenochtitlan.” Ordoñez, a senior environmental studies and urban planning major, created her video for a digital storytelling assignment in Professor Bonnie Johnson’s History and Theory of Planning course. She wanted to represent “the strength of Indigenous teachings that have lasted through destruction and fragmentation” and described the video as her “love letter to the lost city.”
There were two honorable mentions in the writing category. Brad Mathewson of Topeka, a senior majoring in English and theater, wrote a personal essay “How Cowboys Do.” Mathewson drew parallels between “the unattainable legend of the Kansan cowboy and the mythicization/allure of homosexual spaces and ‘ideal masculinity.’” Additionally, Jamie Hall of Shawnee, a junior English major, collaborated with Janie Rainer of Overland Park, a junior studying anthropology, microbiology, Spanish, and creative writing, on the poetry collection “I LOVE DOGS.”
In the writing category, Joshua Rubino of Salina was recognized for his poetry collection small significant things, which is part of his departmental honors thesis. Rubino’s poems consider the mystery of small things while connecting with nature and using evocative language and experiential metaphors. Rubino said he hoped the poems “show that existence is much messier than one might admit, and that it is precisely this messiness that makes it beautiful.” Rubino is a senior in English with a minor in religious studies.
In the diverse media category, MJ Johnson of McLouth and Emma Hug of Lenexa were recognized for their experiential artwork Fast. This immersive installation explores the lived experience and lasting impact of trauma and sexism. Johnson said a goal of the work was to “remove the weight off of the shoulders of survivors.” Johnson is a junior in visual arts and Hug is a senior in fine arts; both are minoring in art history.
An honorable mention in the diverse media category went to a collaborative work by Rubino and Connor O’Neill of Overland Park for their book Since I Was A Boy, which combines poetic explorations of masculinity with conceptual bookmaking. O’Neill is a junior in visual communication.
In the writing category, Aroog Khaliq was recognized for her collection of poetry, Extrema, which combines confessional themes with formal precision in over 25 poems. Khaliq’s reductive editing approach and sense of play yielded dynamic works in conversation with one another. The selection committee noted Khaliq’s ability to marry attention to form with a sense of humor. Khaliq, a senior from Overland Park, Kansas, is majoring in English and psychology.
In the diverse media category, Arabella Schwerin was recognized for her sound installation, Parallel Play. Her highly conceptual performance combines experimental music composition with video and light installation elements, which will sometimes work in harmony and sometimes create tension. Shwerin hopes Parallel Play will “encourage the audience to look at the world with a new perspective.” The selection committee was impressed by the scope and innovation involved in this project. Schwerin is a senior from Sioux City, Iowa, in the School of Music with a focus on cello performance.
In the writing category, Kayla Cook from Highland, Kansas, was recognized for her poetry collection “Black Country.” Her poetic investigation explores her experience as a black woman living in rural Kansas. The committee admired Cook’s ability to work with time within the poems, which combine personal experience with creative syntax and memorable imagery. Cook is a senior majoring in English with a focus in creative writing.
In the diverse media category, Nicholas Monroe from Lenexa, Kansas, was recognized for his multimedia installation, “e-carnage.” His experimental installation combines video and audio inputs from different outdated technologies as a commentary on the wastefulness of planned obsolescence. The committee remarked that this project sparked curiosity with its rich concept and interesting process. Monroe is a senior in the School of Music.
Brad Mathewson of Topeka, Kansas, received an honorable mention in the writing category for his sophisticated personal essay “Thoughts on Being.” Mathewson is a freshman majoring in theatre design with a minor in creative writing.
An honorable mention in the diverse media category went to Elizabeth Sundahl of Denver, Colorado, for her multimedia project “To be Where One Does Not Belong.” Sundahl is a senior majoring in visual art and economics.
In the writing category, Elizabeth Wenger from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was recognized for one of her creative-nonfiction essays “Still Frame,” which is part of her larger undergraduate thesis “Dancing to Utopia.” The selection committee was impressed with how Wenger’s work conveyed diverse, yet interrelated topics while maintaining an introspective voice that conveyed a person who is learning and growing through uncertainty. Wenger’s writing combines personal experiences, quotations, research, and visual markers that guide readers through this creative-nonfiction essay. Wenger is a senior majoring in English and Slavic Languages and Literatures, with an emphasis in Russian.
In the diverse media category, Lourdes Kalusha-Aguirre from Lawrence, Kansas, was recognized for her video essay “This Video is a Timeline.” The committee remarked that this video essay is a beautiful ode to Kalusha-Aguirre’s mother that is linked to the larger political landscape of El Salvador and the United States during the El Salvadorian Civil War in the 1980s. The strong integration of a range of disciplines provides viewers with new understandings of people’s lived experiences during the Civil War in El Salvador. Kalusha-Aguirre is a sophomore majoring in Film & Media Studies.
View Kalusha-Aguirre’s submission. (Content warning: contains images of war)
Rachel Atakpa, originally from Belle Plaine, Kansas, received an honorable mention in the writing category for her magnificent, untitled collection of poems. Atakpa is a senior majoring in English and minoring in Spanish.
An honorable mention in the diverse media category went to Erik Harken of Prairie Village, Kansas, for his stunning film “Tell My Family I Love Them.” Harken is a senior majoring in Film & Media Studies and minoring in Theatre.
In the writing category, Rachel Atakpa of Belle Plaine, Kansas, was recognized for her multi-form poems “Their Eyes Were Watching” and “Psalm 73.” Committee members noted that her powerful pieces “enact themes of surveillance and chaos through the play and integration of form” as well as through Atakpa’s refusal to “subscribe to a singular format.” Atakpa is a junior majoring in English and minoring in Spanish.
In the diverse media category, Daisy Crane of Columbia, Missouri, was recognized for her multimedia project Altered, Ardent, Afraid: An Exploration of Trauma, which combines images of Crane’s paintings and texts that clarify the processes of her works. The committee admired the “links and interconnectedness of the series.” Committee members particularly noted how the body of work conveys “various aspects of trauma relating to the body itself and the human experience.” Crane is a fourth-year student majoring in visual arts and peace and conflict studies.
Kyndall Delph received an honorable mention in writing for their poetry anthology. Delph is a sophomore majoring in English with a minor in African American studies.
Hunter Harding received an honorable mention in diverse media for his capstone film project “The Chase–EBYS (ft. Mark Robinson).” Harding is a senior majoring in film and media studies with a minor in journalism.
In the writing category, Liz James of Overland Park, Kansas, was recognized for her interdisciplinary paper “Glenn Ligon and Frederick Douglass: Nearly Three Centuries of Black Male Identity in America.” Committee members noted that the piece “masterfully combines an examination of issues working across media with the complexities of race.” James is a senior majoring in art history, English, and French.
In the diverse media category, Trevor Bashaw of Manhattan, Kansas, was recognized for their multimedia transcript "Some Queer Shit," which combines poetry, critical and philosophical writing, personal accounts, and visual art. Committee members were impressed with Bashaw’s ability to "connect personal experience in such a complicated, multilayered work." Bashaw is a sophomore majoring in English with a minor in art history.
Hunter Harding received an honorable mention in diverse media for her short film Trippy Firedance. Harding is a junior majoring in film and media studies with a minor in journalism.
In the writing category, Crystal Bradshaw of Jetmore, Kansas, was recognized for an excerpt from her book Eliza: A Generational Journey, which deals with themes of heritage and identity in the time of slavery in the United States. Committee members described her piece as a “powerful statement of reclamation” and a project of “amazing scope and ambition.” Bradshaw is a junior studying English with a focus in creative writing.
In the diverse media category, Nicholas Shaheed of Lawrence, Kansas, was recognized for his musical composition “Three Languages,” which explores the concepts of science and computing through a musical narrative in three movements. Committee members praised the piece for its successful integration of two disparate fields, calling it “transformative.” Shaheed is a senior majoring in computer science and music composition and theory.
Listen to Shaheed’s submission
Alexandra Stanley of St. Louis, Missouri, received an honorable mention for her sculpture Mannequin Made, which the committee selected for both its visual and technical skill as well as its clearly developed ideas. Stanley is a senior majoring in visual art education.
Ashley Arnett of Kansas City, Kansas, received an honorable mention for her multimedia artwork series Hosts: Cordyceps Impetus. The committee praised Arnett’s ability to push beyond the natural tendencies of the materials she used to achieve an “arresting” and “visceral” reaction. Arnett is a senior majoring in textile design.