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Arts & Culture

Student Works Awarded in Expanded Sadat Arts for Justice and Peace Program

Music, Poetry Added to Competition; Entries Centered on Freedom of Speech

By Jessica Weiss ’05 and Kirsten Langlois

collage of three pieces from Sadat Arts for Justice and Peace Program

The winning visual art entries in the Sadat Art for Justice and Peace Program competition were, from left, “Through My Skin” by Maggie Letvin ’24, first place; “The Innocent Martyrs” by Gina Lee ’25, second place; “The Fight for Speech Freedom” by Derek Chen ’24, third place.

Photos by John T. Consoli

A chamber music piece that critiques Apartheid-era oppression, a poem exploring self-censorship within the LGBTQ community, and a paper etching made from shredded anti-transgender legislation are among student works awarded in the 2024 Sadat Arts for Justice and Peace Program. It was the first year of an expanded competition that included music and poetry works in addition to art.

Students affiliated with the University of Maryland School of Music, Department of English and Department of Art were invited to submit works focused on the theme of self-expression and freedom of speech, inspired by an 1860 quote from Frederick Douglass: “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”

First-place winners took home as much as $2,500.

The Sadat Art for Justice and Peace program, housed in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, was started in 1998 in conjunction with the Sadat Lectures for Peace, which brought Nobel Peace Prize laureates to campus. It later developed into an annual competition that encourages art students to explore themes of peace and reconciliation. Past themes have included the refugee crisis, the impact of the government’s reaction to 9/11 and its impact on the world, and gun violence.

“Issues of justice and peace touch our entire university community—indeed our entire society,” said Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development and creator of the program. “Hearing the voices of artists, with their powerful way of communicating ideas, adds to the conversation across our campus and beyond.”

For the expanded competition, the Anwar Sadat Chair for Justice and Peace partnered with Arts for All, the universitywide initiative to increase access to the arts.

"The inclusion of poetry and music provides a fitting opportunity for our students to engage their artistry in ways that provide the entire community a crucial framing for these ever complicated issues," said Craig Kier, Arts for All director. "It's an honor to partner with the Anwar Sadat Chair in the expansion of this year’s competition, and I look forward to a continued collaboration."

Below are the winners of the Sadat Arts for Justice and Peace Program in all three categories:

1st Place, Poetry
“Rose in the Shredder” by R.C. (submitted anonymously)

2nd Place, Poetry
“Seven Feet Wide” by Ella Gammel ’25, English

1st Place, Composition for Chamber Music
“vlug 295” by Johannes Visser, D.M.A. composition student

1st Place, Chamber Music Performance
“Concertino for Flute, Viola and Double Bass” by Erwin Schulhoff
Performed by: Courtney Adams ’24, flute performance; Seth Goodman ’24, viola performance; and Joshua Rhodes, master’s student in double bass performance

2nd Place, Chamber Music Performance
“Time to Listen" by David Gibson
Performed by the UMD Trombone Choir: Marlia Nash ’24, trombone performance; Gilberto Cruz D.M.A. ’24; David Wilson M.M. ’24; Cameron Farnsworth M.M. ’23; Colton Wilson M.M. ’25; and Liam Glinderberg, former D.M.A. student

1st Place, Art
“Through My Skin” by Maggie Letvin ’24, immersive media design, studio art and art history

2nd Place, Art
“The Innocent Martyrs” by Gina Lee ’25, immersive media design and studio art

3rd Place, Art
“The Fight for Speech Freedom” by Derek Chen ’24, studio art

Honorable mention, Art
“Bound by Silence: Suffocated Senses & Shattered Echoes” by Ed-Lamarr G. Petion ’24, supply chain management and marketing

The winning music recordings, poems and artworks are available on the Sadat program webpage.

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