Spotlight on Voices and Visions- Global perspectives on peace

Patience Kayira ‘20
Assistant Arts Editor

As the semester comes to a close, obtaining a sense of peace becomes a necessity for many Smith students and faculty. Voices and Visions, an online literary journal operated by Smith students and affiliated with the Kahn Institute, focuses its spring issue on the theme of peace. The selected creative works of 21 young women attending women’s colleges and high schools around the world, Voices and Visions’ spring issue features a collection of global perspectives. With a mixture of  photography, paintings, poetry, and stories, readers are challenged to think about peace beyond the realm of “passivity.” Released for public viewership in late April, the issue can be accessed online at voicesandvisionsjournal.com.

The editorial staff, which is comprised of four Smith students—Brittany Rose Collins 18, Beth Derr 18, Annaka Paradis 18, and Zoe Hildenbrand 18—is committed to “celebrating women’s education and artistry across the world.”. Despite the range of academic majors on the editorial board, from English to Chemistry, each student carries a strong passion for literature and education. Collins, the editor-in-chief, explained the issue’s theme of peace through an informal online interview. She wrote, “‘Peace’ seemed an apt counter-narrative to the tensions that are permeating our social, cultural and political moment[…] We did not want to conflate peace with passivity, but rather promote peaceful and active resistance.” Thus, while the majority of Voices and Visions submissions are in the form of creative nonfiction and artwork, much of the selected work reflects society’s current problems.

In terms of the journal’s history, Voices and Visions began in 2012 at the Women’s Education Worldwide (WEW) Conference in Dubai. Collins explained, “Rosetta Cohen, the Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman professor in American Studies and Education at Smith,  founded the journal while attending the conference.” Paraphrased from Voices and Visions website, WEW was an initiative created by Smith and Mount Holyoke in 2003 that enabled faculty members and academic officers from women’s colleges all around the world to discuss ways to support women’s education. As Collins explained, “Although WEW is no longer an active organization, the conference provided Voices and Visions with a network of schools to interact with.” 

The artwork, poetry and prose within the spring issue display a high degree of talent. One entry, a close-up photo of a beautiful young black woman titled “Her,” was taken by Afor Foncham attending Mary Baldwin University and draws attention to the negative stereotypes associated with black women. In addition, a heartfelt narrative called “He Watches Over Me” by Faizah Aziz Aditya at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh explores the impact of a parent’s death on a child. As stated in the editorial letter, “Many contributions to this issue portray situations which are far from peaceful”; however, the tension within each piece adds complexity to the idea of peace.

Overall, the Voices and Visions spring issue presents powerful creative work that transcends the idea of peace. The issue also seems to be getting the attention it deserves; according to Collins, “the office of Gloria Steinem, the National Museum in the Arts, and Ms. Magazine agreed to promote the spring issue.” In addition to promotion, Voices and Visions is also interested in having more contributors. To get involved, Collins stated that “students who wish to submit their work to the journal should visit the journal’s submission page at www.voicesandvisionsjournal.com/submit. At the same time, students who are interested in joining the editorial staff may contact her [Brittany Collins], the editor-in-chief or Rosetta Cohen, the faculty advisor by e-mail. ”

In addition to Voices and Visions, another similar Smith-led online journal, Global Impressions, just released their spring issue on cultural encounters. Advised by Janie Vanpée, professor of French Studies, and Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard ’69, Faculty Director of the Lewis Global Studies Center, Global Impressions showcases reflective essays about the experiences of Smith students interacting in different cultural and lingual contexts. Global Impressions’ fall issue will focus on the topic of immigration. Be sure to catch the next issue in the fall on the Lewis Global Studies Center website.

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