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Deep Fakes

Until recently, photographs, video, and audio were considered a trusted form of communication and storytelling.

Then, photo editing technology and software was developed and photos were no longer considered to be fully trusted.

Some photographs have been altered so well it’s almost impossible to tell.

But videos can’t be faked, right? Wrong.

New technology is proving that to be false.

Deep fake technology has been developed to superimpose someone’s face onto another’s.

According to the computer science department chair at Winona State University, Mingrui Zhang, the idea behind the technology has been around for more than ten years.

It’s mostly been used for entertainment purposes such as the popular children’s movie Toy Story.

“It uses generative adversarial network (GAN) which is based on neural network algorithms,” Zhang said. “It is like any unsupervised neural network it learns from the subjects.”

According to a research paper by Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and Danielle Citron, a professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, “Harmful lies are nothing new. But the ability to distort reality has taken an exponential leap forward with ‘deep fake’ technology. This capability makes it possible to create audio and video of real people saying and doing things they never said or did.”

This technology could pose as a threat to privacy and security, according to Zhang.

“It may bring up legal and ethical concerns,” Zhang said. “Those are also what computing education society is facing. The social implication of technology,”

Much like on the social media app, Snapchat, there is a feature that maps out a user’s face and can put photos of friends faces or other filters onto a user’s face.

Snapchat is similar to deep fake technology. Flaws can be detected rather quickly and the users can tell it isn’t someone else.

With deep fake technology, it is more complex but the results are better.

“For example, you want actor B to behave like actor A,” Zhang said. “You take video of actor A, the software will analyze the video and construct the skeleton of A, and A’s motion. In filming, wrapping the skeleton of A with the skin of actor B will make the audience think that B is in action. That’s how AVATAR was made, but the process is too expensive for average person. But with help of a machine learning algorithm like GAN, faking is possible for everyone.”

An issue where deep fake technology arose was in the porn industry. Users of the technology were placing celebrities faces onto others in porn videos.

This is an issue of consent and the well-being of those celebrities. They did not give permission to have their faces in those videos.

“Deep fakes make them available to average person. It started for entertainment, could be used to fake someone’s action who has never committed,” Zhang said.

Chesney and Citron wrote more on the effects of deep fakes.

“Deep fakes have characteristics that ensure their spread beyond corporate or academic circles. For better or worse, deep-fake technology will diffuse and democratize rapidly,” wrote Chesney and Citron. “. . . technologies—even dangerous ones—tend to diffuse over time.”

With that in mind, the porn industry may not be the only industry that is affected as it is hard to contain this type of technology.

Chesney and Citron also wrote about how deep fake technology could affect journalism.

“Media entities may grow less willing to take risks in that environment, or at least less willing to do so in timely fashion,” wrote Chesney and Citron. “Without a quick and reliable way to authenticate video and audio, the press may find it difficult to fulfill its ethical and moral obligation to spread truth.”

Video posted on YouTube by: Bloomberg

New Content Coming Soon

The Winona360 web site is primarily a vehicle for publishing journalism content created by Winona State University Mass Communication students.

In Spring Semester 2019, seven students are involved in the senior journalism capstone class, “Publication Practicum,” and will research write and edit journalism articles including text, video, audio and photographs and post them here for public viewing and comment.

“The Shape of Water” Takes Best Picture at the Oscars

The 90th annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, was hosted by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on March 4.

This year featured a wide range of genres such as horror, science fiction, drama and war films in the award nominations, especially in the Best Picture category.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” promotional photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight
: “The Shape of Water” promotional photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
“Get Out” promotional photo courtesy of Universal Studios

There were nine nominees for the category, many of which feature the work of well-known directors such as Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg.

There were also little-known and first time feature film directors such as Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig represented in nominated films.

Film critics, such as those writing for “Forbes” and “The New Yorker”, projected the most likely Best Picture winners were del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” and Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Both films have won awards in other competitions such as the Producers’ Guild Awards and the Golden Globes.

Lindsey Brezinski , a film studies student at Winona State University, said, “Ultimately, based on the results of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor, I was expecting “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” to win Best Picture.”

In the end, “The Shape of Water” took the Oscar.

“I was ecstatic when “The Shape of Water” won,“ Brezinski said. “I personally loved the film and it was nice to see something I wasn’t expecting win the award. It’s a big win for science fiction films as well!”

“Lady Bird” promotional photo courtesy of InterActiveCorp
“Dunkirk” promotional photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
“Darkest Hour” promotional photo courtesy of Focus Features

To film studies students, The Oscars are considered the most prestigious film awards.

Being nominated by and voted on by professionals in each category, with some exceptions, such as Best Picture, which all members of the Academy vote.

“The Oscars are important,” Brezinski said, “because they bring films that may have not been seen by a wide audience into the spotlight and allow people to step out of the big-bucks studio blockbuster bubble they typically live in.”

“The Post” promotional photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
“Call Me By Your Name” promotional photo courtesy of Frenesy Film
“Phantom Thread” promotional photo courtesy of Focus Features

Jake Nielsen, another WSU film studies student said, “It’s the biggest night of the year for movies. A lot of emphasis and prestige is added to the films that win Best Picture.”

There are things that upset film fans about the Oscars.

“There is also a lot of dumb upsets that happen that are predictable because of how The Academy tends to vote,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen expressed disappointment that many low-budget independent films of great quality are ignored for the big-budget studio films.

Seth Lamey, a film student at WSU, said, “I think it is tough for cinephiles [those who study film] because on one hand they want to celebrate the year of film,but on the other side there is a lot more depth to the cinematic year that isn’t even being talked about.”

The Rivoli Theater in La Cross, Wisconsin
The Rivoli Theater in La Cross, Wisconsin

The Rivoli Theater in La Crosse is one of the few theaters that provides movie-goers access to many indie films that most theaters, such as the Winona 7, don’t.

Both theaters emphasized the Best Picture nominees by showing them before and after the Oscars so audiences could watch them on the big screen.

The Rivoil Theater serves alcoholic beverages and pizza as well as other movie snacks.

Frozen River Film Festival Concludes 13th Season

In the frigid winters of Minnesota, a popular way to escape the freezing temperatures of the North is watching movies.

And Winona has its own film festival to do just that.

The Frozen River Film Festival is a documentary film festival held annually in Winona Minnesota.

The festival recently concluded its 13th season, drawing in about 3,000 attendees.

Frozen River included five days of events, Feb. 7 to Feb. 11, on the last day an award ceremony honored some of the most popular films.

Each year, the festival features documentary films whose subjects focus on local, regional and world importance.

Producer Karolo Aparicio answers questions about the film “Keepers of the Future.”

Festival director Sara Enzenauer said. “Planning for the festival is a year-long process. A lot of the heavy lifting takes place a few months before the actual dates, but there is a lot we are trying to do in the offseason.”

This year is Enzenauer’s first as festival director.

She started as an intern while sew was a Winona State University student, with a film minor, working her way up from intern to director.

Along with offering a wide array of films for moviegoers to watch, the festival included live music, artisan foods, and a vendor fair.

The atrium of the Science Laboratory Center at Winona State University where Frozen River attendees gathered.

Attendees had a choice of 70 films to attend in different venues across town including Winona 7 theatre, Winona State University, St. Mary’s University and Island City Brewing Company.

One patron,  Craig Thompson, said he has been attending since the festival started in 2005.

Thompson said he thought one of the best things about coming to the festival was learning about the variety of topics and issues the films covered.

Frozen River Film Festival is a nonprofit organization that uses donations and fundraising to pay for the films, guest lodgings, and venues.

According to Enzenauer, the budget for this year’s festival was $116,000.

“Our fiscal year starts in May and ends in Aril, “Enzenauer said, “so a lot of our spending takes place on promised funds, or what we think we are going to make in tickets. It’s a very interesting balancing act!”

In, Enzenauer’s first year as festival director was a success.

“We are all really pleased with how the festival went,” Enzenauer said. “I was worried that the numbers would drop quite a bit since it was a big transition year, but we were able to keep things pretty steady”.

Malinda Schmiechen, a regular patron of Frozen River, recalled how some films she has watched at the festival have changed her life.

“One year the theme was garbage,”Schmiechen said. There was a film about recycling that changed my life,” Schmiechen said.

One of the complaints heard at the festival was that it was impossible to see every film and that audiences had to pick which to attend.

Overall, the festival holds a sense of education and community to many of the patrons.

“I like to be challenged and learn about things,” Schmiechen said.

Enzenauer said Frozen River Film Festival takes all year to plan, so just days after this year’s festival has ended, she and the festival committee are already beginning to plan for Frozen River 2019.

“It was a little bare bones this year, and there is room for a lot of improvement,” said Enzenauer.

The festival committee plans to work more on their consistency, organization and communication for next year.

New To Winona: Raw Dog Supplements

In small towns, the nutrition supplement market is often dominated by one or two big chain stores.

The only place Winona citizens can buy pre-workout supplements is GNC or Walmart and the options are limited to what those chains wish to sell.

Winona State student Michael Bennett said he was dissatisfied with the lack of healthy options and decided to create his own supplement company.

Raw Dog Supplements LLC was created because Bennett said he was tired of paying a large mark-up for products containing artificial ingredients.

“Basically in here you got nine ingredients. All 100% pure,” Bennett said while holding a container of his pre-workout. “No additives, no fillers, no proprietary blends, no colors, no artificial flavors. Everything about it is natural.”

Reid Peters: Michael Bennett, owner of Raw Dog Supplements LLC, before an interview.


Bennett said many companies throw a wide range of ingredients in their products consumers don’t know about.

These ingredients are hidden behind names such as “proprietary blend.”

Bennett is concerned someone new to the gym will consume these products without knowing what it contains

“I just wasn’t having what other companies were throwing in their products,” Bennett said.

“There’s a better way to achieve those results than what other companies are providing. I think I’ve got down the most effective way”

Bennett’s personal trainer and long-time friend Sam Ziemke has been making pre-workout concoctions for years and said he’s happy to see Bennett make a business out of it.

Ziemke said he believes much of the supplement industry is detrimental to the health of consumers.

He said many of those artificial stimulants added to these products can hurt the adrenal glands, kidneys and heart.

“These bigger supplement companies like C-4 will spend most of their money on promoting the product with celebrities who don’t even take the stuff,” Ziemke said. “They could be putting that money into adding more and better ingredients into their product.”

On top of the health concerns, Ziemke criticized the mark-up pricing of popular supplements.

He said one scoop of C-4 is like paying $3 for one serving of pre-workout while Raw Dog is priced at $1 per serving.

Keith Jones, an employee at GNC in Winona, said while they don’t carry a lot of pre-workout supplements without additives or stimulants, there are options within the store.

“We do have one or two that I know of that are not only stimulant free – they have a lot less additives,” Jones said. “We don’t have a lot of those in store, though, which is unfortunate. We need to branch out a little bit.”

While there isn’t a lot of pure pre-workout options, Jones said they carry a line of vegan protein, organic green juice complexes and other supplements regarding holistic health.

Jones said he takes pride in educating customers about exactly what Is in products before he recommends anything for them to buy.

After, he said it’s up to the customer.

“The best I can do is tell them what we have in the store,” Jones said. “If they don’t like it or can’t accept it then I’m sure they’ll find what they want online.”

Bennett said this is why he believes Raw Dog is important – a clean product is available in Winona for local pickup or delivery.

Although Bennett is registered as a Limited Liability Company and said he would love to make money from his company, he is doing this because it’s a passion and he wants to be able to offer something he believes in to others.

“I’m not about trying to make a ton of money off of it,” Bennett said. “I’m trying to give the people what they want. I’m hearing a lot of feedback and I’m loving it.”

Bennett said he has invested between $5,500 and $6,000 total.

This includes the industrial mixer, the raw products, containers, silica packets, container seals, tee-shirts, LLC registration, scoops, labels, stickers and a website.

Bennett said after a few months he has made around $3,000.

“That is much better than I ever expected,” Bennett said. “I have all these supplements that don’t go bad for three years now and I’m already about half way to making my money back.”

Bennett said he would be fine not making all his money back.

What he has gained through experience and knowledge is more valuable to him than money.

This same mentality is why Bennett isn’t concerned with expanding past Winona.

For the time being, he said he wants to continue doing what he loves and master the market in Winona.

“When I’m not at one of my three jobs, this is what I’m doing,” Bennett said. “This is my heart and soul. As corny as it sounds, this is what I enjoy doing.”

Winona State’s First Ever Ebony Night

The Winona State University African Students Association will be hosting the first ever Ebony Night on April 21st at 7 p.m. in Kryzsko Commons on the WSU campus.

ASA members Beke Eromosele and Nyalen Pidor are organizing the event and described it as a celebration of African and African American culture.

The night is going to be hosted by African comedian Chief Obi and

will include dance performances, a fashion show, various student performances, a red carpet photo shoot, east and west African food and more.

Eromosele and Pidor said they are excited not only about how much fun they are going to have, but for how important an event like this is for a university without much diversity.

“It’s really important to have,” Pidor said. “It celebrates a culture that is ignored at our school because we have a very small demographic of black students.”

Pidor said an event like this will make that demographic feel special and appreciated.

Both Eromosele and Pidor said it will be cool to showcase their culture to anyone who would like to come.

“It will be cool to show people our customs and our traditions,” Pidor said. “It’s a fun way of educating people who don’t know much about our culture.”

Nyalen Pidor (Right) and Beke Eromosele (Left) said they have become close friends through ASA.

Eromosele said most people don’t know a lot but would like to know more and this is a great chance for them to do so.

Pidor and Eromosele said they urge anyone to come to the event especially if they are not African or African American.

ASA is an inclusive club, according to Pidor and Eromosele.

The event is meant for all groups of people.

“When we were planning it, we had some worries about white people feeling like, ‘I don’t know if I should come or not,’” Eromosele said. “We made it known that white people and other cultures and other races can come.”

WSU’s Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Dr. Johnathan Locust, said he’s thrilled about the event and thinks it can do a lot of good things for the university.

“It promotes Winona to different segments of people who may not have been looking at Winona State University in the first place,” Locust said. “We want everybody to talk to everybody.”

Locust said he believes the power in conversation between different groups of people is what can bring those groups closer and Ebony night is going to contribute to that kind of unity.

Winona State student Eric Mullen is not a member of ASA but plans on going to Ebony night.

“I have a decent understanding of European cultures but zero knowledge of African cultures,” Mullen said. “This would be a good introductory point for me to learn more about that.”

Mullen described this event as a ‘stay-cation’ – instead of traveling to these countries to experience the culture, an event like this allows students like him to experience it first-hand at home.

The budget for the event is around $13,000 the club received from Student Senate, UPAC and other private organizations according to Eromosele.

Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for the general admission.

“Have fun and enjoy cultures that you wouldn’t normally experience,” Pidor said. “It’s gonna be a great night.”


WSU basketball player stars on and off the court

Winona State Universities, Hannah McGlone, is on track to play in more games for WSU Women’s Basketball, then anyone who has ever played for the team.

When Hannah McGlone steps on to the floor at McCown Gymnasium, Feb. 18 she will tie Natalie Gigler, 2007-11, for most games played, at 119.

McGlone needs to play one game in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament to take the record.

Fortunately for McGlone every team in the NSIC qualifies for the tournament, barring injury she will hold the record when her collegiate basketball career comes to an end this spring.

McGlone said that, playing in 100 games and other career milestone like 900 points, 800 rebounds and 70 steals are all just meaningless stats, if they didn’t help the team win.

McGlone, the lone senior for the Warriors this season, will leave a mark on the Winona State campus not only for her play on the court but also her efforts off-court.

“I’m a hard worker and competitor,” McGlone said. “At the end of the day there is more to life than basketball. Being a good friend, family member and person off the court is what matters most.”

Hannah McGlone leads her team in a 59-51 win over The University of Sioux Falls Cougars

McGlone’s personality when she isn’t playing basketball dates to her humbling roots growing up in what she said is an average family.

Spending her childhood in the middle-class neighborhood of Streamwood, Illinois, McGlone said she never realized her full potential in basketball, until high school where she played on the varsity team for four years.

McGlone’s father always had supported her in everything she did and had high hopes for her future, however he didn’t always expect Hannah to become the basketball player she is today.

“She always had the size, but struggled with catching the ball when she was young.” joked Greg McGlone. “She had what we called blocks for hands.”

Hannah McGlone says that family is everything to her and the reason that she plays basketball.

Both Greg and Peggy McGlone coached their daughters, Hannah and Megan, while they were growing up.

McGlone was the captain of her high school team in Streamwood, Illinois

McGlone claims her parents and uncle are the reason she has become the basketball player she is today.

Everything from coaching to practicing in the driveway, her family was the most important part of her growth as basketball player, said Mcglone.

McGlone said she has no immediate plans for her future but knows basketball will no doubt be a part of it.

“If I get the opportunity to continue my basketball career on the court, it will be hard to pass.” McGlone said. “I know for a fact that I want to coach at some point.”

On track to earn a teaching degree this spring, McGlone wants to eventually work her way into an athletic director or coaching job at the collegiate or professional level.

From Three Countries To One University

by Allison Mueller & Taylor Nyman

As Winona State University’s spring commencement nears, graduating students are faced with the reality that they will be on their own. This thought is scary for most graduates, and for those who have traveled from other countries to pursue their degree as Warriors, it can be even scarier as they leave their four-year home.

Click the map to see where the four featured international students are from.
Click the map to see where the four featured international students are from.

According to WSU’s Director of International Services and Cultural Outreach Kemale Pinar, 300 international students attend Winona State representing 45 countries. Of these students, 39 are graduating this semester. Insight into four of these students’ backgrounds, Winona State involvement and post graduation plans, illustrates the process international students might endure as they remain thousands of miles from home following their time at college.

Jakiul Alam

Busy streets, hectic sidewalks and tall buildings was not the big city vibe Takiul Alam was looking for when exploring college options outside of his home country of Bangladesh. After living in the capital of Dhaka with a population of more than 18 million, he wanted the opposite.

According to Alam, he found what he was looking for in the city of Winona – beautiful surroundings, a much smaller population and snow.

Still, none of these features were a true selling point for Alam. For him, it was about the scholarships.

Although he was leaning towards attending college in the U.K., Alam made the decision to attend Winona State after receiving scholarships that covered 75 percent of his tuition. Now, after three and a half years of study, he will graduate with a degree in computer science.

Alam claimed he never felt homesick after leaving Dhaka, and the biggest thing he had to adjust to was the difference in food.

“The food is pretty bland,” Alam said. “Back home, we use a lot of spices to cook, so that was the biggest obstacle.”

For his first two years at Winona State, Alam served as president of the International Club. This gave him the opportunity to share his culture’s food in the annual International Dinner as well as enjoy dishes from other countries.

Alam’s lack of homesickness will benefit him after graduation, as he has no intention of leaving the U.S.

In March 2016, Alam enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He said his basic training date keeps getting postponed, but he hopes to begin training by the end of this year.

Senior international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Jakiul Alam, shows off his military ID during an interview on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Kryzsko Commons at Winona State. Alam enlisted in the Army Reserves to eventually gain citizenship and is awaiting his basic training departure date.
Senior international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Jakiul Alam, shows off his military ID during an interview on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Kryzsko Commons at Winona State. Alam enlisted in the Army Reserves to eventually gain citizenship and is awaiting his basic training departure date.

Money once again played a large factor in one of Alam’s life decisions, as he enlisted to receive money towards tuition as well as citizenship after passing basic training.

Since his enlistment, Alam said he is unsure what will come next for him after he graduates, but he does know he would like to live in Minnesota.

“My plans are up in the air until I know when I go to basic training,” Alam explained.

With his mom and two sisters supporting his decisions from back home, Alam said he will continue to enjoy the Minnesota snow and wait for the next phase of his life to unfold.

Rachel OuYong

A software developer position at Pearson VUE in Bloomington, Minnesota awaits Rachel OuYong after graduation. Instead of feeling first-day jitters when she arrives, OuYong will see familiar faces when walking into the corporate headquarters.

OuYong is a WSU computer science major and math minor from Hong Kong. She said she came to Winona State after she traveled to Minneapolis to visit her aunt, who is a WSU alumna. After then journeying to Winona and receiving a tour of campus, OuYong said she wanted to attend.

“The town is very different from where I grew up,” OuYong said. “As a city, Hong Kong is like New York. I wanted a big change and decided Winona was a good place to be.”

Throughout her four years at Winona State, OuYong has been involved on campus through the International Club, as a worker at WSU’s Tech Support Center and as a student researcher for the Computer Science Department.

Senior Rachel OuYong sits at her computer desk in Technical Support in Somsen Hall at Winona State and waits to help students with their malfunctioning devices on Monday, April 24, 2017.
Senior Rachel OuYong sits at her computer desk in Technical Support in Somsen Hall at Winona State and waits to help students with their malfunctioning devices on Monday, April 24, 2017.

During her junior year, OuYong attended a job fair in the Twin Cities through Career Services. This visit resulted in a summer internship for OuYong at Pearson VUE, and six months after her time in Bloomington she was offered a full-time position beginning after graduation.

While landing an internship and accepting a job offer is high on OuYong’s list of greatest accomplishments, she said attending the Grace Hopper Celebration twice ranks first.

“That conference is the world’s largest for women in computing,” OuYong said. “That was probably the highlight of my four years of college.”

Senior Rachel OuYong from Hong Kong, China, stands in front of her senior capstone research project on XML Data Storage of Lung Cancer Treatment Outcomes Prediction Tool in computer science in collaboration with Mayo Clinic on Monday, April 24 in Watkins Hall. OuYong said her project explains software design, analysis and results for the benefits of the data storage program.
Senior Rachel OuYong from Hong Kong, China, stands in front of her senior capstone research project on XML Data Storage of Lung Cancer Treatment Outcomes Prediction Tool in computer science in collaboration with Mayo Clinic on Monday, April 24 in Watkins Hall. OuYong said her project explains software design, analysis and results for the benefits of the data storage program.

OuYong’s undergraduate research with her advisor led her to present the project “Predicting Lung Cancer Outcomes” at the conference. This project carries over into her senior capstone, as she focuses on Data Storage Of Lung Cancer Treatment Outcomes Predicting Tool in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. Her research poster is on display in Watkins Hall on Winona State’s campus.

Wasil Chisti

Wasil Chisti’s journey to Winona State includes a series of missed deadlines.

Chisti said his father encouraged him to leave home in Dhaka, Bangladesh to “get a better education from a better country.” He looked to attend school in Canada, where a few of his family members and friends live. After missing the application deadline by a few days, he said his mother suggested he “try the country next door.”

In 2012, Chisti attended a college in Missouri to study engineering and two years later decided to transfer to Mankato State University.

“I just couldn’t see myself graduating from there,” Chisti said.

He had plans to apply to Mankato State, but missed the deadline. Chisti changed his major to business administration and attended Rochester Community and Technical College for one year before transferring to Winona State and changing his major to human resources. He said he changed his major after realizing how much he had worked in customer relations since the start of high school.

At RCTC, Chisti said he took a class because he thought it was transferrable to Winona State, but he learned too late this was not the case. This forced him to stay another year at Winona State to earn his degree.

“It worked out,” Chisti said. “Whatever happened, it happened for the best.”

At Winona State he was hired for a paid internship with the College of Business startup, which he also receives credit for. Chisti has served as human resource manager for the group since last October, which involves recruiting, screening and interviewing students on campus for jobs.

Senior international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wasil Chisti (center), participates in a College of Business startup meeting as student resource manager on Friday, April 21, 2017 at Winona State’s College of Business Engagement Center. The College of Business startup is a student-run organization with approximately 8-10 students who collaborate to reach out to the student body of Winona State with job oppurtunities.
Senior international student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wasil Chisti (center), participates in a College of Business startup meeting as student resource manager on Friday, April 21, 2017 at Winona State’s College of Business Engagement Center. The College of Business startup is a student-run organization with approximately 8-10 students who collaborate to reach out to the student body of Winona State with job oppurtunities.

Chisti said after graduating he looks to secure a job, and it does not have to be “the most attractive.”

“I can go into a job five days a week and not be the happiest person there,” Chisti said. “But the paycheck can make me happy.”

Christian Kolby

Christian Kolby from Oslo, Norway said he would have never considered himself a leader three years ago.

“Today, I am the most respected College of Business leaders,” Kolby said.

He said Winona State’s College of Business offers a lot of opportunities for students to expand their skills, which is what he did and will continue to do.

Kolby, an economic and political science major and global studies minor, said he served as a “normal” college student his first two years at Winona State, as he earned good grades but was not involved on campus. His junior year he joined the Economics Club and was pitched as VP of finance, allowing him to work alongside administrators for the College of Business and gain experience.

“The dean will ask me if he needs people, so that’s rewarding,” Kolby said.

After a liking for the Minnesota Vikings led Kolby to search for Midwest colleges that fit his budget, he considered Winona State as an option.

He said, “I applied, got accepted and never really looked back, and it worked out.”

Senior international student Christian Kolby from Oslo, Norway, takes a headcount of kids as a camp counselor for his Entrepreneurs in the American Economy class event to mentor young adults for entrepreneurship opportunities on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Kryzsko Commons at Winona State. Kolby used this opportunity to gain experience in his field of study by working with economic and political science.
Senior international student Christian Kolby from Oslo, Norway, takes a headcount of kids as a camp counselor for his Entrepreneurs in the American Economy class event to mentor young adults for entrepreneurship opportunities on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Kryzsko Commons at Winona State. Kolby used this opportunity to gain experience in his field of study by working with economic and political science.

Kolby explained how a scholarship program for international students allowed him to pay in-state tuition, saving him thousands of dollars per semester. He said this, combined with Winona’s small-town feel, moved him to choose Winona State over other colleges that accepted him, such as the University of Minnesota.

Using his club involvement with the College of Business to build his resumé, Kolby is interviewing with companies including WinCraft and Fastenal, as the semester concludes. His ultimate goal is to permanently live in the U.S., staying in Minnesota for now.

“If opportunities arise elsewhere, I’ll pack up my bag and go,” Kolby said. “But, Winona will always be my second home.”

The Superhero Revisionism of Legion: Season One

It would have been easy to lean on the success of the psychedelic visuals and give a straightforward comic book tale, but that’s not what “Legion” is about. Its devotion to character and complex emotions is handled with grace and talent by Hawley, and the sheer audacity of its narrative is enough to get any viewer hooked.

Over the past two decades, superhero narratives have become synonymous with blockbuster filmmaking. Since “X-Men” blew the door open in 2000, the theaters have been packed with superpowered special effects extravaganzas on a yearly basis. Since “X-Men’s” release, there have been more than 70 large budget comic book releases, with almost 15 more coming over the next three years. The genre is at its peak. With the uptick in popularity comes a more pressing matter: Audience disinterest.

As with any other narrow genre, for example westerns or noir films, the evolution of genre narratives follow a very similar path. The first few years establish the basic tropes, like the origin story and the tragedy that follows, ultimate good versus ultimate evil, and an ultra destructive climax. Films stick fairly close to this framework for a while, until the genre hits market saturation and is forced to evolve or die. Noir is an example of a genre that died — though admittedly it was brought back to life in the mid-70s — and the western is one that evolved.

The films become both self-aware and unrestricted, now free to develop unconventional narratives and operate both outside of the boundaries while simultaneously bringing attention to them. This year’s “Logan” is a perfect example of that evolution, dealing with the morality and truthfulness of superhero stories while also being completely aware of its origins stemming back to the original “X-Men.” These evolutions lead to not only better cinema, but better stories as well.

This evolution is why FX’s “Legion” is one of the best superhero narratives ever put to film.

Told over the course of eight breathtaking episodes, “Legion” tells the story of David Haller (Dan Stevens), a young man in a mental hospital for schizophrenic delusions and hallucinations. He spends his days in therapy and complaining about the world with his close friend Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) until he meets the girl of his dreams in Sydney “Syd” Barrett (Rachel Keller). Syd turns out to be a part of an agency of mutants who are looking for David due to his unnaturally strong powers, of which even David is unaware — He thinks he’s crazy.

Dan Stevens in “Legion”. (Michelle Faye/FX)

Showrunner Noah Hawley, hot off of his acclaimed run on FX’s  “Fargo,” went into the show hoping to craft a new take on the superhero narrative, and he nails it.

Superhero stories are nearly ubiquitously concerned with two things: superpowers and action. That’s where “Legion” separates itself from the rest of the pack. There is plenty of action, and superpowers left and right, but none of it is the focus. “Legion” is less a show about superheroes and more about people — individuals whose lives have been changed by forces outside of their control. Each character has their own quirks and foibles that make them relatable, approachable and more than anything, human.

David, whose comic book alias is the titular Legion, isn’t exactly your typical hero. His life consists of questions with no answers and tragedies with no cause. His schizophrenia diagnosis was the first truth he ever came across, but even that ends up being nothing more than a mistake. That confusion comes out throughout the series, thanks to Stevens’ absolutely magnificent performance. He prepped for the role by talking to mental health patients and physicians to truly understand his character, and it helped. Viewers feel his confusion, discomfort, anguish. H is an inherently optimistic character with desires. Part of this is Hawley’s fault, since he, along with the rest of the cast, intentionally hid large portions of the story as they filmed, so he would be unsure of what was actually happening. It was an odd tactic that ultimately paid off.

Rachel Keller in “Legion”. (Michelle Faye/FX)

Syd, as the other lead, is just as interesting. Keller’s breakout role in season two of “Fargo” was one of overt intensity and violence, a brooding villain in every aspect. Here, she plays the exact opposite, a subdued and introspective love interest for David. Syd’s power involves her being able to switch places with anyone she touches, trading her mind for theirs for a short period of time. As such, she’s not exactly a huge fan of touching, though David manages to change that once he discovers a way to bring her into his mind.

What’s interesting about these two is the love story is not a slow burn like most shows and films. Within the first episode, “Legion” establishes their connection and makes their relationship one foundation of the story. The two play off each other’s weaknesses and help one another overcome emotional problems, which is a nice change of pace from the usual “woman as reward” stereotype.

Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller in “Legion.” (Michelle Faye/FX)

The real star of the show, however, is Plaza’s Lenny. The character actually dies in the first episode, before becoming a part of David’s constantly growing mental hellscape. Lenny, in fact, was originally written as a middle-aged man, so her dialogue is often crass and off kilter, but Plaza pulls it off with vigor. She channels a bit of her trademark “Parks and Recreation” humor. The varied ways her character is used let her shine in an unconventional role. Revealing too much about her role in the plot would be spoiling some of the biggest plot twists of the season, but I will say her arc is delightful.

Aubrey Plaza in “Legion.” (Michelle Faye/FX)

Superhero shows, like “The Flash” and “Arrow,” typically follow the same framework. Each season has one big villain, which drives the season along, and each episode features a smaller baddie for the hero to fight. Essentially, they become episodic monster-of-the-week shows, which are entertaining of course, but they don’t draw much emotion from the audience.

“Legion” is completely different. It is essentially an eight-hour film, with a slowly boiling story that draws on the strengths of its characterization and mystery. It could  be described as a character study, if not for the constant superpowers and trippy fight sequences.

There are traces of superhero tropes all over the place, but that’s never the focus. There’s a major villain lurking in the shadows, a government organization intending to use David as a weapon, big set pieces and fight scenes and plenty of superpowered antics. Yet, the show does something very television specific: it never shows its hand.

“Legion” is a show focused more on the internal than the external, a narrative built around confusion and distress. The conflict ramps up incrementally, as David slowly understands his origins and what is truly going on. Equal parts psychological thriller and mystery, the show thrives off themes of self-identification and reflection. Entire episodes take place within David’s memories and his mind, with the penultimate episode involving the entire cast trapped inside the maze that is David’s brain. It’s constantly surprising and evolving, with a tacit approach that lets the viewers in on its secrets, but hiding the truth behind layers of intrigue and complications. That internal focus reverberates down to the action itself. It takes a psychological approach to telepathic combat, lucid internal battles fought through dialogue and psychedelic disorder.

When I say lucid, I mean it literally. “Legion” is an absolute beauty to watch, with a visual style so good it hurts. The closest way I can describe it would be as a neo-futuristic version of the 1960s, or the TV equivalent of a Pink Floyd album after a bit too much LSD. It sheds all of the bombast and overdone CGI synonymous with the superhero genre in favor of a unique aesthetic that coats every inch of the frame in ultramodern psychedelic simplicity. Everything from the costume design, to the architecture and  the hairstyles are quintessentially 60s, with a nice 21st century vibe layered on top.

Katie Aselton in “Legion.”  (Michelle Faye/FX)

And that’s saying nothing for the filmmaking itself. Every episode is shot with the delicacy of a sculptor and the panache of an auteur ahead of his time. Inside David’s mind, the shots feel claustrophobic and ominous, smothered in discomfort. Out in the real world, fluid pans and exquisite framing give every image a life of its own. It is a master work of cinematic style and flair, with some of the finest lighting and color work television has ever seen. By paying close attention to every minor detail, Hawley and company build an ethereal environment that is as surreal as it is comforting.

It would have been easy to lean on the success of the visuals and give a straightforward comic book tale, but that’s not what “Legion” is about. Its devotion to character and complex emotions is handled with grace and talent by Hawley, and the sheer audacity of its narrative is enough to get any viewer hooked. It shakes the genre down to its foundation and restructures it into something new. “Legion” succeeds in every way possible, easily becoming a masterpiece of the superhero storytelling.

One can only hope the second season will live up to expectations.

From farm to city: rural artist, researcher opens community post in Winona

By Samantha Stetzer

“I was in the right place in the right time.”

Something about the Mississippi River has always drawn Matt Fluharty to it.

In the late winter of 2015, just as the river was roaring back to life after months of an icy stalemate, Fluharty was on his way back to his home in St. Louis, Missouri from a conference in Minneapolis. He said was tired, ready to be home and contemplated taking the interstate back.

“I called my wife Kelly, and she said, ‘No, you should really drive the river, again,’” Fluharty said. “’It’ll be so much better.’”

Matt Fluharty laughs as he talks about his relationship with his father and how it has grown due to Fluharty’s organization, Art of the Rural. The organization engages in promoting the rural arts, culture and policies through a digital platform and providing a space for the creation to happen. His father has always been interested in rural policy, Fluharty said, which the duo began to realize was similar to Fluharty’s interest in the rural arts and culture.

On his way down the river, Fluharty stopped at Blooming Grounds in downtown Winona for a cup of coffee. He continued to venture around the city, noticing stores like Yarnology, bars such as Ed’s No Name Bar and some empty storefronts. As a professor with a Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and as someone who studies modernism of rural America, Fluharty said he noticed the character of the town he stumbled upon.

“You could tell there were empty storefronts, but there was also this amazing vibrant economy happening downtown,” Fluharty said. “You see that in a lot of river towns, but there was something special about Winona, you could just tell. I think people sense it when they come downtown.”

Then the self-described river rat found his way to Winona’s Levee Park and the Mississippi River.

“I was just like, ‘Oh God.’ It was just like the best view of the river is here in Winona,” Fluharty said. “I mean every community along the river would kill to for that view and to be in between the bluffs, and then it really struck me.”

After the experience by the river, Fluharty said he texted his wife and his business partner, urging them to search for Winona online.

By April 2016, he and Kelly were moving their family to the river city for it become the new official headquarters of Art of the Rural, an organization founded by Fluharty. The organization focuses on connecting rural America to its arts, culture and policy, building off of the narratives already in place.

As a poet, designer and artist who has been published in art reviews, such as To Make a Public: Temporary Art Review 2011-2016, Fluharty said he began the organization in 2010 and has watched it transform to connect rural economic policy and its arts and culture.

The headquarters for Art of the Rural has officially opened as the Outpost on the eastern side of Third Street in Winona and will officially open with an exhibit featuring portraits of Winonans by Jon Swanson on May 5.

Back on the farm

It all started on a farm.

Fluharty is a fifth generation farmer in Ohio. During the 1980s, around the time Fluharty was in third grade, his parents lost their family farm to the farm crisis. Fluharty said moving away from the only kind of home he and his family had known for generations struck in him what he believes eventually led to Art of the Rural.

“I felt very connected to this place because those early formative childhood memories were of a farm that we no longer had, and for a long time that was source of personal pain,” Fluharty said. “But as I got older and became an artist and a writer some of those feelings began to be translated into a set of questions about what does it mean that I had that experience and that a lot of other people had that experience and that we don’t talk about it.” 

As Fluharty grew up, he said his family moved around the Midwest a lot, including Indiana and Missouri, but he eventually left home to study English and modernism in poetry and writing.

Fluharty said original ideas for the organization came to him when he was working on a project about the eastern side of St. Louis, Missouri while in graduate school. That side of the river did not have its own history, Fluharty said. It was scattered and mixed into different stories.

As he was finishing up his dissertation in late 2009, the passing of a grandmother he was close to prompted him to finally say out loud to someone how he was going to start Art of the Rural. He said was walking in the woods with his brother when he finally said, “Yeah, I think I’m going to start a blog.”

“After her funeral, I kind of had this moment of revelation,” Fluharty said. “…sometimes you just have to say something out loud to someone for you to feel responsible to that idea.”

Expanding beyond the blog

With the original blog up and running by January 2010, Fluharty said he kept the idea and concept a secret until April 2010, just to see if it was something he would actually continue.

When he finally started to spread the word, he said he found it had gained attention not only from audiences but also from people wanting to contribute to the writing and work Fluharty was doing.

The work started to include blogs about rural artwork, culture and histories of rural communities in the Midwest. Fluharty starting gaining more partners, such as Program Director Savannah Barrett and Kenyon Gradert with Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

The organization also sponsored Next Generation, which supports a network of art possibilities and promotes engagement in younger people to the arts, according to Art of the Rural.

It was at Next Generation where John Davis, executive director of the Lanesboro Arts Center in Lanesboro, Minn., said he met Fluharty.

“Matt is an amazing individual,” Davis said. “I think he is thoughtful, articulate, always interested in learning about rural and arts and community, seeking out new ways to help communities.”

For the last four years, Davis said he has seen the significance of Art of the Rural, primarily on its impact with younger generations.

Swanson, curator at the Minnesota Marine Art Musem in Winona, said he also believes in the power of young engagement. Swanson first met Fluharty when

Fluharty was contemplating moving to the area and setting up the Outpost.

Swanson said he has often seen college students leave Winona after graduation because of the need for a larger city feel. With festivals Mid West Music Fest and Boats and Bluegrass, Swanson said he believes the addition of Outpost to the Winona scene will only be a more attractive feature to young graduates looking for a place to call home.

“I’d like to be able to retain some people that want to live here and have a better quality of life,” Swanson said. “Just trying to build a better community to live in.”

Curator of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Jon Swanson, shoots portraits of Winonans for his photography show, Winona Characters Portrait Photography, which will open on May 5 at the Outpost in Winona. Outpost is a collaborative space headquarters for Art of the Rural, founded by Matt Fluharty. (Contributed by Jon Swanson)

As Art of the Rural began to support more rural arts and works, it also became more engaged with larger organizations, such as M12 Studios, motivated by the same goal of promoting the rural arts, Fluharty said.

According to Richard Saxton, director of M12 Studios, working with Fluharty has enhanced his creativity and work.

“I think we’re kind of a sounding board for each other,” Saxton said. “What I do as an artist directing M12, and what he does with the Art of the Rural, there are some crossovers there. We’re friends as well as colleagues.”

M12 Studios, according to Fluharty, enters into a community and builds off its culture, creating statues and exhibitions within small rural communities. Art of the Rural, meanwhile, has more of a digital platform and outreach, Fluharty said. M12 Studios will utilize the Outpost in Winona as a space for most of its exhibitions, Fluharty added.

“I think it’s actually a really nice synergy, because between the two, we’re really talking and engaging with folks across a pretty wide series of disciplines and sectors,” Fluharty said.

Building personal connections

Art of the Rural began because of a farm, but it was in the city of St. Louis, Missouri where Fluharty said he started to understand its need.

Fluharty said he did have doubts about his ability to promote the meaning to this organization, as he remembered thinking about one day when he was dropping off his son Will at day care in St. Louis, Missouri.

He had a busy day of phone calls and meetings about rural culture scheduled for that day, and as he was dropping off Will, he began to realize he was raising his son outside of what he taught and studied.

“I had this moment of realization where I thought ‘Will isn’t rural.’ Like I’m talking about rural America and rural culture, and here I am taking my son to day care in St. Louis,” Fluharty said. “And for about 30 seconds that like kind of shook me on some level.”

The realization, according to Fluharty, eventually only encouraged him to keep pursuing what he was teaching and to understand the significance of the fluidity among rural and urban communities.

There has also been another father-son relationship in Fluharty’s life that has been impacted by his studies, Fluharty said.

Fluharty said his organization has brought him and his father together, which was something Fluharty said he would not have seen as possible when he was younger.

According to Fluharty, his father had always wanted to create a cultural center about the history of northern Appalachian culture and was always interested in rural economy and policy.

Meanwhile, as Fluharty grew up, Fluharty became more engaged in rural arts and culture. In the pair’s conversations together as Fluharty began Art of the Rural, he said they realized their goals were more common than different.

“You can do all the arts and culture you want, but if the economic development isn’t happening and if it’s not inclusive and we’re not welcoming young people, we’re still going to fail,” Fluharty said. “So it’s those three things coming together, and that I think to some degree was just the subject of just a lot of conversations we had as I got older and Art of the Rural began to grow a bit.”

Now, Fluharty’s organization has begun to work closer with economic policy and laws as a way to build and share the culture in small towns.

Fluharty’s father has since gone back to farming with Fluharty’s brother on the farm he took over from their grandparents, Fluharty’s father’s parents.

Back to the river that started it all

Fluharty said he envisions Outpost as a space designed after a building in Des Moines, Iowa. This building is an old fire station turned community center that on any given night can host events from open mic night to wrestling in the same building. Eventually the groups meet in the common area for food and drinks, intermingling among their interests and hobbies, he said.

“Maybe they’re sharing a snack or they’re having a drink together, and they’re building a really different kind of set of relationships there that you can’t make that happen,” Fluharty said.

Outpost has already hosted events, but it will officially open on from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 5 as it hosts Winona Characters Portrait Photography project by Swanson. The project includes 147 portraits of random people in Winona, with an age range of three months to 80 years old.

The project, Swanson said, is perfect for the Outpost.

“It directly aligns with their core values and their missions,” Swanson said., “bringing art to an audience in smaller more rural communities.”

One of Jon Swanson’s portraits that will hang at the Winona Characters Portrait Photography exhibit at Outpost in Winona starting May 5. Outpost is a collaborative space headquarters for Art of the Rural, founded by Matt Fluharty. (Contributed by Jon Swanson)

As for his ongoing project with Art of the Rural in Winona, Fluharty said they will be examining towns along the Mississippi River understand how the arts, cultures and economies are all interwoven together.

Landing in Winona as Art of the Rural continues this project and its outreac, Fluharty said, was just fate.

“I was in the right place in the right time.”