Welcome to MTSU Creates

MTSU Creates is dedicated to the artists and makers in the MTSU community. An ongoing project of the Sandbox student organization, the website features works and projects by MTSU students, staff, faculty, and organizations.

If you have ANY questions about the site, including questions about submitting work, email us at mtsucreates1@gmail.com.

Carson Brooks:”Sometime During Eternity,” a Beat video

MTSU’s Carson Brooks is a multi-talented individual: an award-winning essayist, a musician, a Certified Personal Trainer at Campus Recreation, a poet, and, in this case, a creator of video. The video was made for an Introduction to Literature class in which Carson was enrolled in the spring of 2018. In an accompanying artist’s statement, Carson describes his creative process:

“I created a video for Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem ‘Sometime During Eternity,’ a sarcastic critique of some of the claims made about the life of Jesus Christ. I used footage from several films, all religious in nature, as well as several images and miscellaneous clips from Google images and Youtube. I edited the video using Wondershare’s Filmora program on my Windows 10 PC, and I recorded and edited my music and vocal recital of the poem in Audacity. I enjoy witty poetry, the kind that encourages smirking and prodding elbows to the few among the audience that really ‘get it.’ Poets from the San Francisco Renaissance such as Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg connect with me in a way that most mainstream poets don’t, and ‘Sometime During Eternity’ set my imagination running with ideas for my video project.

“I decided early in the editing process to use Jesus Christ Superstar to fulfill my visual requirements of Jesus and his crucifixion. The orange color palette perfectly suited the “ancient” context of the poem, signifying the aging of time, and most of the video reflects that, with exceptions for contrasting blue visuals that are commonly paired with orange. I certainly took some intentional risks, such as the rapid cuts of the news anchors and the split-second reference to Saint Peter, but I believe that my visuals appropriately communicated the dark comedy of the poem.

“I decided late in the editing process that an urgent, up-tempo jazz number could hilariously interact with a vaguely Allen Ginsberg-modeled delivery of the poem. I spent many hours listening to bebop and hard bop jazz, a subgenre that I wouldn’t otherwise listen to, only to discover a track belonging to the original soundtrack of an anime called Cowboy Bebop, a format that I wouldn’t otherwise watch. Having spent time in the past as an at-home amateur in both video and audio production, I knew that I would have to tinker with everything to make it fit well with the duration of the poem. I cut the song into several pieces that I could rearrange and edited them on top of my vocal recording, cutting a tenth of a second here or there to make everything flow correctly and sound natural.

The use of sound and video effects came spontaneously during the editing process. I considered my increasingly Beat-themed project, with its conversational delivery and jazzy score, and realized an additional element of that San Francisco Renaissance aesthetic could be easily implemented. A few downloads later and some audio editing and my video presents a casually lit cigarette as its introduction. Around halfway through the video, I decided to chase an urge to emphasize the line ‘or at least 1947 of them, to be exact’ with bold, stamped text that spins into a doomed film reel that burns away into an image of Christ. It compromised the delivery of the poem, not quite agreeing with how the lines of the poem are formatted, but it flowed well. Exploring comedic timing through matching my visual and auditory elements was my goal, and I am pleased with the final project.”

Carson Brooks
Carson Brooks



Letterpress posters for MLK Day

On the cold Friday afternoon of January 18th, students met under the leadership of Professor Kathleen O’Connell to make letterpress posters celebrating the life and words and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The posters were to be used the next day for The March commemorating Martin Luther King Day.

on the press

Unlike the outdoors, Todd 350/351, home of the letterpress print studio, was warm and inviting. Work on the first prints was already underway when I arrived, and work on a second was beginning. The letterpress process is quite intriguing. Though technically, any variety of materials can used to create type and images, only wood blocks were being used for these posters. Each line of type of is first laid out in a composition stick, used to make sure the lines are of a consistent length, then transferred to a galley tray, where the entire text is collected and before being moved to the press. This preparation, the arrangement of letter and spacing blocks, looked both fun and painstaking. I suppose you get the knack of reading things backward.

When complete, the galley of type is moved onto the bed of the press and locked into place using compression. The type is then inked—using an automated roller system on the presses used Friday—and an initial galley proof, a test-print, is run.

After that, the process becomes more methodical…and physical! Pieces of paper are attached one at a time to cylinder and literally pulled through the press using a geared crank. Finished prints/posters are then placed in a drying rack, and the process begins again. Having a team of workers helps speed the process and sharing the more physical aspects reduces fatigue.

It didn’t take a lot of coercing to get me to pull a print, and as with past art department events I’ve gone to as a documenter, I found myself wishing I could be more involved with the creative process taking place. I’ll be watching the Todd Art Gallery Facebook page, hoping for a future opportunity!

Text and photos by Alvin Knox

“Sick at Sea”: Frank Phillips

“Frank Phillips is an English major at MTSU who makes music and writes fiction in his free time. The music encompasses a wide array of styles and moods ranging from alternative to punk to experimental electronic. But in this single, a lighter, more hopeful attitude was used, with musical inspirations coming from lo-fi hip-hop instrumentals and freak folk artists such as CocoRosie and Joanna Newsom.”

Artist Photo

“Sick at Sea” is available for listening from a variety of sources:

SoundCloud (free download):
Bandcamp (free download):
Apple Music: itunes.apple.com/us/album/sick-at…ingle/1441160247
Spotify: open.spotify.com/track/79N3NVDdR0zCci3qMrActN

Sick at Sea Artwork

Costumes on Campus: 2018

Halloween! The holiday evokes memory, the imagination, and for many, the creative spirit. That spirit was alive and well on MTSU’s campus on October 31st, 2018, demonstrated through imaginative costumes inspired by traditional Halloween themes, books, movies, manga/anime, and television.

These are just a few of the costumes witnessed yesterday, and here is a big Thank You! to everyone who dressed for the occasion, enlivening the day for all. I’d like to offer an apology to the wearers of the costumes I had to scurry past without taking a picture, and a special apology to a handful of spooks and ghouls who I attempted to photograph in the ill-lit hallways of Peck Hall and the KOM: I’m afraid some of those pictures were unusable.

Text and photos by A. Knox

Sunshine Twin: Lindsey Larsen

Sunshine Twin

Lindsey Larsen is a freshman in the College of Media and Entertainment. She is also a member of the Sandbox student organization. She offers the following:

“I am an artist because it gives me an outlet to express my thoughts and feelings when I can’t put them into words.

My pieces normally consist of a more “cartoon” or “anime” style instead of being fully realistic and this is because of my animator role models.  Shows I watched as a child influence my art to this day.  I create my art normally on paper but occasionally go digital.  The idea I have behind my own work is to convey how I feel in the moment, and try to express it through my drawings.  My goals as an artist are to one day become an animator or a game artist.

I believe my art isn’t anywhere near what I would like it to be but I am trying to improve everyday.”

It is refreshing to have a freshman submit to MTSU Creates, which takes a share of courage. Lindsey’s already-apparent skill, determination, willingness to take risks, and desire to improve will undoubtedly serve her well.

The banner image in this post is a free download from pngtree.com


The Celebration of Student Writing

On April 20, 2018, English students met in the Miller Education Building to share projects created for a wide variety of English classes and subjects in an event called The Celebration of Student Writing. Officially, the event lasted from 1 to 4 pm, but set-up began hours before that time, largely conducted by a group of dedicated graduate students, teachers, and underclassmen.

But the real story of the event was the presentation of students’ works, scores of students’ works, only a small handful of whom are represented here for each had a story to tell about the creation of their projects or the purpose of their research.

The event wasn’t all poster-boards nor long talks with engaged and excited students, however; The Celebration of Student Writing also hosted the General Education and Upper Division writing awards ceremony, as well as some non-textual and group projects such as this quilt:


Plan on joining student researchers, writers, and makers again in 2019 for this growing exhibition of English students’ accomplishments!

Photography by Blair Bandy


Blair Bandy is a senior at MTSU studying Photography and Business. On her personal website, she notes, “It’s hard to say where my love for photography sparked from. It’s like it’s always been there. However, I’m striving everyday to improve and learn more about myself and my work.”


“This series is an ongoing project involving my 92-year-old grandmother. She never fails to amaze me with her positivity and strength. She raised 5 children by herself and worked full time her entire life. I strive to be as strong as she is as I get older.”


To experience more of Blair’s work, visit her WordPress or VCSO sites, or find her on instagram!

Student Organizations

The student organizations at Middle Tennessee State University didn’t burst into existence in a miniature big bang: they were created by students to serve the MTSU community or one or more student sub-communities. Organizations may be social, academic, athletic, or professional in nature. After the initial creation of the groups, students have worked to establish and maintain the organizations, acts that often require a significant amount of ingenuity and creativity.

At the CUSTOMS student organization recruiting event on June 5th, 2018, I took the opportunity to talk with representatives from a variety of student organizations about the greatest challenges and rewards of creating, maintaining, and being involved with a student organization.

The challenges expressed by many groups include finding dedicated, involved members and simply getting the word out, letting students know that the organization exists and informing them about what it does. That can be quite a challenge with MTSU currently boasting over 320 student organizations! Other challenges mentioned by group representatives included distributing the workload, dealing with a constant turnover of members as some students graduate and others enroll, and establishing good leadership and the protocols for a smooth-running organization. Some groups have rather more specific challenges, such as including a wide spectrum of beliefs and opinions. Collage, a “student-produced, bi-annual magazine of creative arts,” is faced with a unique problem, according to Editor-in-chief Rebecca Clippers: finding staff is easy, but getting enough good submissions, the creative materials featured in the magazine, especially prose, is difficult.


However, with the challenges of starting and running a student organization come significant rewards, and the most often noted is finding a sense of community, of making friends and finally feeling you “fit in” somewhere on MTSU’s busy and diverse campus, of relationships found and cemented. With that comes the camaraderie of shared experience, sharing knowledge with others, and seeing the group come together to work toward common goals. Again, some representatives noted very specific goals, such as Avraz Anwar of Pre-Scripts, a pre-professional medicine organization, who noted the chances to network within a professional field, and through that networking to find job-shadowing and volunteering opportunities.


The representatives from two of MTSU’s newest student organizations, MTSU Bowling and Cause for Conversation (C4C), noted similar rewards that are almost certainly shared by those involved in every group: the idea that you have created something, that you can watch ideas evolve into events and activities, that you experience the sense of hope that the organization to which you’ve devoted your time and energies will last and grow!

Bowling 2c4c

If you’re not already a part of one of MTSU’s many student organizations, you should be. For a full list of currently active groups, see the MyMT organizations directory.  Or, if you perceive a need for a new student organization, create one! The guidelines are available on the Students Organizations and Service website.

Thank you to the following groups and their representatives for talking with me in the preparation for this post:

Baptist College Ministries (BCM): Nathan Longwell, Tyler, & Jonathan
MTSU Bowling: Katherine Shattuck
Cause for Conversation (C4C): Sarah Pope, Emily, Megan, & Christian
Collage: Rebecca Clippard & Morgan
Debate: Jordan Nickell, Joshua, & Steven
Fencing: Chadwick Silan, Jane, & Nathan
La Comunidad: Elman Gonzales & Sergio
MT Lambda: Maxwell Pearson, Tina, & Kimberly
Student National Medical Association: Jared Millard
Omega Delta Psi (Recording Industries): Nick Barron & Josh
Pre-scripts: Avraz Anwar & Aelana
Religious Studies Association: Joshua Clemens & Allison
Sandbox: Cory Nelson, Brandon, & Bryce


Text and photos by Alvin Knox

Septic Purity: a poem by Angel L. Thurston

In this poem, Angel L. Thurston offers a verse variation of the Norwegian fairy tale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.”

Septic Purity

A pound on the door
revealed a bear,
His fur as white
as the fog in the air.
Before the peasant could
mutter a word,
the bear mauled the man
and wife, and every child
in the room,
except the one
who was young and fair.
She slept on a cot;
he drugged her soul.
Away he took her,
to a faraway kingdom.

When they arrived,
he gave her a silver bell.
When she rang it,
he pounced on her,
her body writhing beneath
his razor claws.
Her eggshell skin
gleamed with blood.
As she slept,
blood stained her legs.
She awoke and cried, and lit
a candle to see the pool.
Then she saw a man,
and tallow fell on his face.
The burn woke him
and he bruised her
tainted hips.

The next morning
she lay on grass.
Her body ached as
fresh blood emitted from
her weak body.
She came across three hags
who told her she was impure.
Each one gave the girl an item—
a golden carding comb,
a golden apple,
a golden spinning wheel—
to present to the queen
so the queen would make
the girl pure again.

East, west, south, north.
Each wind took her
closer to the castle
East of the Sun,
West of the Moon.
She presented each
golden item to the queen.
The vile lady turned away the gold,
but agreed to take away her impurity
if the girl were to kill her son.
In the prince’s chamber,
as night fell,
the girl slit his throat.
As she turned over the queen’s son,
she saw his lifeless face,
looking down at his horrid beauty,
and turned away as
his blood stained the white sheets.

Angel is an English major senior at Middle Tennessee State University. She will be graduating from MTSU on May 5, 2018. Angel’s first publication—the flash fiction piece Wintry Dreams—appeared in the 2016 anthology Wolf Warriors III, edited by Jonathan W. Thurston. Angel, inspired by her brother’s writing and the many books she read, has been writing since she was in the seventh grade. Her dream is to have a novel written and published—not for fame, but as an inspiration and guide to others. Along with her brother, her boyfriend David has been her greatest inspiration by encouraging her every step of the way, even when she was too depressed to return the gestures. Angel can be found reading children’s literature, young adult novels, or fairy tales in a local cat café, sipping away sweet coffee and petting cats (even though she has never done this, she is present there in soul, mind, and heart).

**feature image from MythDancer.blogspot.com



“Old Fashioned” — Jessica Yellowitz


MTSU Creates is pleased to welcome Songstress Jessica Yellowitz back to our pages with her song “Old Fashioned,” the second song on her E.P. The Very Beginning.

In case you missed the last post about her, Jessica is a commercial songwriting major at MTSU and a long-time singer/performer/guitarist. As the school year draws to a close, her schedule hasn’t slowed, but is filled with spring and summer travel and tour dates, mostly in or near her Virginia home.


Part of the tour included a stop at The Whiskey Room, in Franklin, TN, where she performed in a song-writers’ spotlight with two other MTSU songwriter/performers. Catch a glimpse of that performance, and check out more of her songs on Soundcloud and/or Spotify. You can keep up her busy schedule on her website or Facebook page.