World Literature Today Announces 2021 Neustadt Festival Poster Design Contest Winners

July 27, 2021
by  WLT
The first-place winning design in the 2021 Neustadt Lit Fest poster design project by Sydney Sleeper

University of Oklahoma students Sydney Sleeper, Andie Trillo and Jamie McCarley have been awarded first, second and third place, respectively, in the annual Neustadt Lit Fest poster design project. The students participated in the competition as part of an annual collaboration sponsored by World Literature Today magazine and the University of Oklahoma School of Visual Arts.

Sleeper’s winning design will be used in all the promotional materials for the 2021 Neustadt Festival, slated for Oct. 25-27 on the OU campus. The festival’s schedule of events and full list of featured writers, artists and scholars are available online.

The lit fest will feature Muscogee writer Cynthia Leitich Smith, the 10th NSK Prize laureate and New York Times best-selling author of books for young readers, including Hearts Unbroken, which won the American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award. Ten visiting writers will also convene as the jury to select the winner of the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Since 2011, School of Visual Arts undergraduate coordinator Karen Hayes-Thumann has incorporated this design project as part of an undergraduate course in visual communication. This year, WLT’s art director, Gayle L. Curry, and editor-in-chief, Daniel Simon, met with the students over Zoom to provide feedback and help them refine their concepts. The WLT staff then chose the winners from among the final projects.

“Sydney’s design is imaginative, and she has entwined Cynthia Leitich Smith’s love of reading and writing into a concept that will be engaging for this year’s festival,” said Curry.

First-place winner Sydney Sleeper is a rising junior at OU pursuing a degree in visual communication. Born and raised in Texas, she graduated from Lovejoy High School in 2018. With a lifelong passion for storytelling and reading, she has been drawing since she’s been able to hold a pencil. Her hopes are to one day be able to see more of the world and what it has to offer.

Second-place winner Andie Trillo is from Moore, Oklahoma. “As a sophomore studying visual communication at OU,” she writes, “I’ve been able to envelop myself in my passions and have come to realize the ability art has to create connections that may never have come to fruition without that medium. As a graphic designer, I hope to create pieces that can transcend language barriers and unite people under the universal communication medium that is art.”

Third-place winner Jamie McCarley, from Grapevine, Texas, is a rising junior at OU, also studying visual communication. She has a passion for design and after college wishes to pursue that passion professionally.

To learn more about the Neustadt prizes, visit