Hobart Park 2020
Since 1978, Hobart Park has been published on Davidson’s Campus, but the 2020 edition highlights the changing demographics on Davidson’s campus and was published under atypical conditions.  In the 2020 edition, the authors and artists were predominantly women of color. The staff was almost entirely female as well, as all but one of them were women. Most of the staff had majors or minors in English or Studio Art, while the submitters themselves had twelve different majors and minors among the fifteen contributors, showing diverse academic interests. Three contributors were Psychology majors, while two other were Asian American Studies majors, with majors like Biology, Theatre, and Environmental Studies also making an appearance. There was some overlap between contributors and staffers, as three of the fifteen contributors held a position in the editing team. Many contributors submitted multiple pieces, as seven of the fifteen contributors had two pieces showcased while one of the fifteen had four.
Hobart Park is 48 pages long. It contains an editor’s note, three short stories, and five poems. The 16 pieces of art make up most of the issue—possibly reflecting the evolution of cameras and digital art since previous publications. According to editors in chief Ariel Chung and Cathy Xu, the purpose of Hobart Park 2020 is to “provide a temporary break from the distressing realities of our world in this moment and inspire you to rediscover your own artistic selves” (Chung and Xu, 2020).
Put together amid the first wave of COVID-19 in the US, the Hobart Park staff was forced to compile the work remotely. COVID-19 changed the way the editors collaborated and resulted in Hobart Park inhabiting a new, digital space. Davidson sent students home March 11th, so they couldn’t create a physical copy of the publication. According to layout editor Alice Berndt, they “decided to create a virtual magazine that [they] could publish digitally…using Issuu, which was much less effort (and cheaper) than getting it physically printed.” She met with Miquel Donado, apprentice layout editor, over Zoom to create the design. They pulled together the publication in an unprecedented time tackling new design challenges to showcase the creativity of Davidson students.
The magazine is broken up into sections titled “Inside,” “Outside,” and “In-between.” Berndt explained that they were compiling pieces “in late April/early May of 2020…when everyone was still very much trapped inside. Miguel and I quickly started to notice an inside versus outside theme in the submissions…We broke the pieces into…sections that reflected all our many mixed emotions about being stuck inside, craving the outdoors, and the kind of trapped, in-between state of life we were all living in.” These sections go hand in hand with the common themes of the magazine.
As a result, many of the works incorporate natural elements–both as a device and a theme, such as reconnecting with nature as a topic or using natural imagery as a rhetorical device. Another key theme seen throughout is familial relationships, specifically the struggle, conflict, and tension that families deal with. The last concept consistent throughout the publication is the idea of loneliness. Many of the works include narrators battling loneliness or fearing loneliness in the future. Even some of the art holds feelings of isolation. The prevalent themes reflect not only the creators’ experiences and identities but also reflect feelings surrounding the pandemic and global uncertainty of the time.
Social Distancing Analysis
In 2020, the global pandemic (COVID-19) thrust the world into political turbulence, resource shortages, rules, and regulations on socializing, and extended quarantines. In Social Distancing (published in 2020), Ariana Wasret illustrates an art piece that has two hands barely touching a crying Lisa Simpson meme, all of which is placed over a serene blue-sky backdrop. It is exemplary in its reflection on the state of the world in 2020. 
The hands appear to be mirror images of one another. It evokes the imagery of the famous Creation of Adam painting by Michelangelo. In Michelangelo’s painting, Adam—the first human man—is mirroring God but just barely touching him. It was thought to symbolize that humans were created in the image of God. However, even though they have similar physical attributes, humans will never be as mighty as God.
In comparison, these hands are also mirrored. Instead of demonstrating the physical likeness of the two figures, the painting highlights similarities in the situations that the two figures have been shoved into by the pandemic. The hands do not touch because they are physically separated by the safety measures (e.g., social distancing, quarantine), but also by their mental states in how they respond to social restrictions. Some individuals may have an easier time coping, while others might have deteriorations in mental health.
The central image is the crying Lisa Simpson meme. Interestingly, the original meme did not have tears streaming down her face. This was called the “Wanna Fight?” but later had tears added and is referred to as “Crying Lisa.”  As a meme, the original image was interpreted as Lisa challenging someone to a fight; however, with the addition of tears, it evokes a more bittersweet tone rather than a blank, confrontational one. In internet culture, the meme of “Crying Lisa” is used to symbolize moments that induce anger but at the same time, they feel threatened, leading to what some might call “angry tears.”
Another way to interpret the meme is to argue that Lisa is asking for comfort and a hug. Her outstretched arms, and crying face that is devoid of emotion, indicate that she has been pushed past the breaking point and desires emotional support. This would certainly reflect the deep yearning for connections and support during the pandemic.
The meme is an art piece and medium where individuals can express their emotions, ideas, and identity. In fact, this meme is a symbol of connectivity among the COVID-19 afflicted individuals stuck at home or decreased socializing. Because people were advised to be six feet apart or completely locked inside their homes, the only way to connect was through the Internet like social media. This meme became popularized during the pandemic when someone posted about people leaving bad tips during COVID-19. Many people liked and retweeted it. “Crying Lisa” shows the evolution of art forms and how individuals interact in 2020.
In the blue skies, dark, stormy clouds seem to be creeping into the tranquility and balance of pre-pandemic normalcy, which demonstrates that the effects of the pandemic are slowly seeping in.
Social Distancing suggests the world is learning how to grapple with the pandemic. The art reflects how the pandemic affects each personage, while also demonstrating the methods that people have sought to ameliorate their tribulations.
"A Pilgrimage for My Mom" Analysis
“A Pilgrimage for My Mom” is an excerpted short story written by Khoi Nguyen (Emily) Trinh in April of 2019.  He majored in Asian American Studies and is part of the graduating class of 2022. In the story, the narrator expresses the struggles of separation and the worries that arise from leaving for college. The narrator discusses family connections, isolation, and the importance of memories.
The relationship between the narrator’s parents seems to be distorted. The narrator does not directly state the issues surrounding the parents’ marriage, but one can infer that there is a lack of communication and interaction between the couple from descriptions, such as, the mother not sleeping in the same room as the father. To further illustrate the disconnect between both parents, the narrator details that the father takes up most of the space, leaving the mother to use her “room as a way of reclaiming space from the dad” (Trinh, 2020). The father is described as someone who engages himself in work and activities to keep himself busy, while the mother is presented as someone who has to accept solitude, especially when her child will be leaving for college.
This short story focuses on the narrator’s relationship with the mother. The narrator’s love and care for the mother influenced the way they viewed their college enrollment. Feelings of guilt and betrayal consume the narrator as they think about leaving their home and family, hence why the narrator cries to the mother expressing their worries. The narrator states, “ma I’m leaving you” (Trinh, 2020) and implies they no longer wanted to leave. After the mother reassures the narrator that college life will be amazing as they meet new people, the narrator could only think about the mother’s social wellbeing. Both mother and child could soon be challenged with isolation and fear.
Space, as hinted by the narrator, is something owned and protected. The excerpt begins by describing the mother’s room, which is filled with old memories of her children’s belongings: elementary school drawings, old blankets, and high school flyers. The father not daring to enter this room suggests that it is a personal space and like a sanctuary. The narrator describes a messy, cluttered space, but the mother loves it that way because it brings her good memories. The story reminds readers that time spent with loved ones is limited and therefore should be cherished; each preserved item in the room represents a memory and holds sentimental value, that is why when the narrator tries to empty out certain items, the mother “snatches it back from [them], slipping it into one of the boxes by her hammock” (Trinh, 2020).
Hobart Park’s 2020 edition includes the experience and thoughts of students and staff who were working on the issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trinh’s story becomes more engaging as readers discover elements of isolation, memory, separation, and cluttered space that reflect the changes in their lives due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Viewing the story through the lens of the pandemic, the audience is reminded of quarantine and solitude as the mother establishes her own personal space, where she can relive old memories when her daughter was physically with her. Overall, the short story emphasizes the struggles and emotions of students when they are about to independently cross over into a new journey.
1. Xu, Cathy, and Ariel Chung, editors. Hobart Park, 2020.
2. Wasret, Ariana. Social Distancing. Hobart Park, edited by Ariel Chung and Cathy Xu, Davidson College, 2020.
4. Trinh, Khoi Nguyen (Emily). "A Pilgrimage for My Mom." Hobart Park, edited by Ariel Chung and Cathy Xu, Davidson College, 2020.
Elsah J, Patrick F, Precious O, Ruby Z