ArtWords 2020: "Situated Between a Hamlet and a Village" by Macie Rasmussen
A snowy field under an overcast sky

Situated Between a Hamlet and a Village

If there was noise in the void, it would sound like the snow kicked up softly by the wind on the countryside. Empty. Cold. Colorless. Nauseating. There’s no separation between the ground and sky, expelling the urge to take one step further.

A tree’s shadow is disgusting because it’s just a reflection of absence in this context. The sight of a silo in the distance only represents past exhaustion—labor that’s long gone. For a structure that has pulled many into null existence, it should have died long ago.

Who would worship that which is desolate?

Just as you only know you were once lonely when you experience genuine friendship for the first time, you don’t appreciate the void until a stranger coughs in your mouth. You don’t notice the overhead power lines until you’ve looked up from the base of a fifty-six floor consulting agency.

Some flee the void when Aquarius season injects rebellion into their veins. Like the stars’ governance, not everyone understands it. That’s okay. That’s the void. It’s jarring for those who’ve left and returned. It may not be as they remember. After all, emptiness is open. Coldness incites impetus. A colorless space is a perfect canvas. Nausea is the ideal tool for purging the unwanted.

In each snowflake, there’s its own void. When it eventually melts, it’s omniscient. Like astro-water signs, not everyone understands how this place floats between reality and the imaginary.


Ms. Rasmussen's first-place ArtWords winner takes its inspiration from the painting pictured above: Teo Nguyen, Untitled 13, 2017. Acrylic on vellum, 54 1/4 × 102 1/4 in. Collection of Weisman Art Museum, intended gift of Mary and Bob Mersky.

Read the other 2020 ArtWords winners >>

Read the full 2020 edition of The Tower, in which this year's winners are published >>

Listen to the 2020 podcast and hear this year's contributors to The Tower read their submissions >>

ArtWords is an annual writing competition in which students select a piece of art on display from the Weisman Art Museum's permanent collection, and create an original piece of prose or poetry in response to it.

This competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Minnesota. Selected authors are awarded prizes, published online, and given the opportunity to present their work in the galleries of the museum. Undergraduate winning writers of ArtWords are published in The Tower.

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ArtWords is held in collaboration with the English Department's Creative Writing Program. A panel including Creative Writing faculty, Weisman Art Museum staff, and editors of The Tower select winning entries. Prizes include a gift certificate to the WAM Gift Shop, as well as two $75, two $50, and two $25 prizes.

Our guest judges: Sam Van Cook, the president, founder, and owner of Button Poetry; award-winning poet and essayist Douglas Kearney, professor in the University of Minnesota's Creative Writing Program; and Michael Curran, the Marketing and Communications Associate at Weisman Art Museum.

Our student judges: Claire Breitenbach, Designer, Fiction Editor, and Copyeditor of The Tower; Afton Kelly, Managing Editor and Chief Poetry Editor of The Tower; Miki Schumacher, Marketing Director and Art Editor of The Tower; and Kimberly Xayaroun, Publicist and Fiction Editor of The Tower.

Macie Rasmussen

About the Author

"Situated Between a Hamlet and a Village"— Macie Rasmussen is a senior studying strategic communication with minors in public health and cultural studies and comparative literature. She directs The Wake magazine and DJs on Radio K. In her free time, she hunts for new bolo ties at thrift stores.  Macie's winning entry is inspired by Teo Nguyen's painting, Untitled 13 (2017).