review by michael doran, susquehanna university, class of 2017
The Peel is the annual print publication of Appalachian State University. The magazine features prose, artwork, poetry, and a featured artist section.
My first impression of The Peel from Appalachian State University is the design of the cover. The magazine’s logo sprawls over the cubic recreation of the college town in which the university is nestled. The color scheme catches the eye. At first glance, the off-white sky bleeds into the blue representation of the Appalachian Mountains, with the thick greens of the plush university under the disproportionate university buildings. Immediately, I notice the yellow and blue clock tower that, as shown by the cover image, I assume sits directly in the middle of the university. Throughout the magazine, the relatively plain design of the interior is complimented by an interactive image of a tree set behind each page number. As the pages progress, the seasons are reflected in the tree as its leaves wilt from rich green summer foliage to the dead, rigid look of winter. It is an ocular delight, but it doesn’t distract from what matters most: the works.
“Another Orchestra” by Colin Moore is a four-stanza free verse poem that on the surface communicates an idea of small town disillusionment and transcendental values. Moore brings the reader through the first stanza following an owl that sings to the night. She glides over heads of stoners, each of whom, caught in the swirl of a dazed connection with the shadowed nature that swirls around them, wish desperately to hear a different song of Mother Nature in the final stanza. “Another Orchestra” captures the buzz that comes from the renovations to something ancient and mysterious.
Another excellent work that breathes this new life into The Peel is a short story called “Crown of Thorns” by Connor Robertson. Robertson provides insight into a homosexual relationship anchored in the characters of Joshua, a devout church-goer, and Luke, an abusive boyfriend. The contradiction of their Christian love and human lust tears at the characters, causing a fight. The blood circles the drain as Luke cleans Joshua afterward. The beautiful tension of the characters erupts as we are shown the mirror of problems they share.
“Filled with Breath and Lust” is a mixed media piece by Brittney Flood which uses acrylic paint, charcoal, and oil on wood. The painting itself depicts a young man in simple khakis and a short sleeved polo, sitting with crossed legs and arms posed in front of him, a mass of color springing from his head in many directions. The deep colors of the oils and acrylics with pinks and mixed blues show an eruption of thought. The entire work blends in and out with contour lines, highlighting the fade into masses of color.
In the middle of the magazine is the featured artist, Rachel Haycraft who describes herself as a “graphic designer, illustrator, musician and warrior poet.” Haycraft is all of those things. She received her BFA in Graphic Design from ASU in 2011 and is currently pursuing her teaching degree. She has also written graphic novels, crafted short stories, filmed documentaries, and created works of art in many mediums. Much of her work is focused on her experience of suffering from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a disease that causes a lot of physical pain. Haycraft embodies the many facets that Appalachian State provides all of its students and the successes one can have in the face of opposition.
As I peruse The Peel, making my way through the seasons of the little tree, I appreciate the work and innovation apparent in its pages. This magazine is yet something new and something working, something being molded. Something bold.