Call for Work Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our first call for work! These submissions were chosen for their artistic craft and reflection of the themes of the Forum project. If you’d like to submit your own work, go to our submissions page!

KIERA RYDZIK, Angelic Devil

Working in the Michigan House of Representatives has shown me both good and bad. I have learned the beauty in philanthropy and community outreach yet have seen hidden truths. I have always been incredibly passionate about climate change and began to work on local Michigan legislation pertaining to such. However, some politicians surrounding the legislation were not contributing for the correct reasons; I have further noticed this in our federal government. Many legislators in power have spoken of climate activism but rarely act on this verbal commitment. 

“Angelic Devil” is made entirely of trash. The shadow, however, completely juxtaposes with the sculptural element and casts a beautiful shadow of an angel, who appears enlightened and innocent. But how did this politician get here? By contributing to fossil fuels, pollution, huge carbon footprints of large corporations. This piece protests those in office who continue to turn a blind eye to climate change; a blind eye is just as bad as placing trash on the street.  The shadow art itself was inspired by Tim Noble and Sue Webster. 

VICTOR GARCIA, Adam Toledo Zoom Background

In April of 2021, a thirteen-year-old boy named Adam Toledo was shot by the police in the Little Village neighborhood in Chicago. Little Village is predominantly low-class with a high Mexican immigration population. Chicago was enraged by this and people came together to protest. Because of Covid-19 students at the University of Michigan were attending classes virtually and student organizations held events virtually as well. To avoid keeping the issue silent I had designed this graphic to be used as a zoom background to hold conversations and bring awareness in predominantly white spaces. I would share this graphic with students to use as well. The next thing I knew this graphic got around and I was interviewed by ABC News in Chicago. I was also reached out to by a nonprofit that was hosting a protest in order for them to use my design and print out banners and posters for the community to raise in the air and march on the streets. All I wanted to do was honor a young boy who grew up in the streets, just like my dad and ensure that our kids don’t continue to grow up to be another tragic statistic.


I made this piece during the 2020 presidential election season to comment about casting your ballot through mail. At that time voting seemed like our lifeline. People were dying because of a pandemic our government was unwilling to address, and here I depict a message of determination. Though many felt isolated and as if they were forgotten, I had faith that people would participate in droves to create a sea of voices against the continuation of an incompitent administration. Said administration attempted to delegitimize the normal, safe, and already in-place practice of mail-in-voting which was now a politicized statement. A lone hand strongly gripping their ballot is symbolic of this act as a form of protest, and of one’s community acting together while not being in-person to witness such change.

RAZAAN KILLAWI, Last Bit of Freedom

The piece is titled ‘Last bit of Freedom’. I have always tried to educate myself on the politics of the Middle-East as my parents are from Syria. ‘Last bit of Freedom’ is a visual of all that is left for many in the middle east: freedom of thought. The middle-east has survived endless oppression, yet, it still perseveres in the face of adversity. Tormented, chained, lied to, blackmailed, slaughtered, and suppressed yet freedom of thought is not something that can be taken by force. The ever autonomous mind will forever stand as a symbol of independence. No gun, tank, or unjust law can tamper with the human brain. The ability to produce ideas and thoughts with no limits is the greatest weapon of all. ‘Last bit of freedom’ is a visual of this very concept. In this piece, notice the faces of oppressors in the middle east who have ruled and continue to rule inhumanely: Ben Ali, Gaddafi, Bashar Al-Assad, Sisi, and Mohammed Bin Salman. Sitting on a person’s back, symbolizing the oppressive style of governing these rulers have practiced for so many years. Beyond that, a burst of color, flowing from a  person’s head. This is the symbol of the autonomous mind, freedom of thought. It is a representation of that last bit of freedom that cannot be contained, even while its owner remains confined. This piece seeks to serve as a reminder, oppressed or not, that freedom of thought always exists within each of us and it is guaranteed liberty. ‘Last Bit of Freedom’  is a tribute to all those facing oppression in all its forms, signifying that no matter where we are, our freedom of thought cannot be repressed.