Two weeks ago I was part of Yeah That's What She Said's Motherland event at the Knockdown Center. It felt different than other events I've been part of because my mind was on process, and many of the talks I had with other makers went back to that. The dedication and energy and pushing. Putting in the time just because we want to know that we’re building. Knowing we have to follow up on emails, and not always wanting to. Finding that building a website can be oddly therapeutic. And of course, feeling weird things and reminding ourselves that we can feel other things too, that we can work around our discomfort and doubt and fears.
At Motherland I met artist and organizer Viva Ruiz, who runs Thank God for Abortion, a movement aimed at de-stigmatizing abortion. Their mission is to “eliminate the criminizaling stigma around abortion one t-shirt at a time. [They] are occupying a light and apology free space in a conversation that even in the left is fraught wih guilt and secrecy (Thank God for Abortion zine)". Viva’s table was filled with 'THANK GOD FOR ABORTION’ t-shirts. I loved them, but if I was being honest with myself, the thought of wearing the shirt sounded stressful to me. I asked Viva how how she deals with the controversial aspect of her work, and the possibility of blatant hostility. Viva admitted that at times she has felt threatened and scared. Because just as I’ve suspected, people have found it okay to threaten her life and safety. Which is very rich coming from pro-lifers.
In my early twenties I longed to be 28, because in my mind it signified time passing and progress. I imagined that at 28 I’d have control of my life and would be happily self-employed, traveling often and moving from project to project. I’m 27 years old, and I’m not sure that in eleven months I’ll be as carefree or as settled as younger me envisioned. I’ve definitely become more grounded, and I’m way more focused on my creative work, but I really don’t feel that I have it as together as young me imagined. And yet, I've built and I've used my fire, and the messiness has turned out to be very important in all this.
It might my Taurus sun, or Capricorn moon, Aqua midheaven, or fifth house in Virgo, or all the 3’s, but I am constantly thinking about projects and my visions for my life. I need to feel that I’m always creating and building. When I am aligned with it, I feel myself be in touch with the threads and my magic and I know why I’m here. But when I’m too tired to make, or when I feel that I'm not moving forward with a project, everything else feels dimmer. If enough time passes, I become anxious and incredibly frustrated.
The Dominican Women's Development Center is joining the BAAD! Ass Women Festival in hosting a zine fair in the spirit of creative resistance. The 17th annual series, happening from March 9th to April 8th, "celebrates the empowerment of women through art, culture, and performance". Our Health Promotion team is organizing ZINISTER, a zine fair focused on qpoc and our resistance.
The idea for ZINISTER came from wanting to create a space for our local artists and our fight in this political climate. It is about placing our people and ourselves on the forefront, and supporting our cultural workers. The event will include a zine fair, a zine-making station, and an open mic.
I know I want to do this, but I've been holding myself back. I have to continue to remind myself that I can handle the new-ness of this. Discomfort is okay; I'll live.
Am I not capable of learning and improving? Am I afraid of having an opinion? Is my fear of being wrong or disliked bigger than my visions and passions? The only thing that would guarantee failure, or me being exempt of critique, is not doing anything at all. Sitting back and simply taking in other people's work, and longing for a life in which I create and see my potential through. Is that what I want for myself? Do I want to be an expectator? Do I really want to step aside for my fears? No, I do not want to merely watch, and I do not want to my fears to drive my life. I refuse to feel that my life is happening to me, and I'm just reacting. I'm forever growing and adapting, and I get to push past my comfort zone.
I finally made a new zine. The title is "the sun is coming for us", and I made it to reaffirm my commitment to self-care and creativity, and to remind myself that waves have always been part of my process. It's about me using all I got, and prioritizing creative projects, learning, and self-love, in this post-election hell. I can't control the collective level, but I can add to it, and I can be intentional in my own life. The biggest goal is to build the life I want for myself.
For a while I felt that I was stewing in my discontent. I was feeling unhappy with where I'm at, mentally, creatively, and physically. There's nothing like feeling unmotivated and unproductive to make me scream inside. If I don't nip it real fast, I'll find myself going through the motions. And I really don't like living like that. I understand I'm a brown woman in a society that isn't built for me; I can't expect myself, or anyone else, to always be on it. We're all affected by our daily lives, the systems set up against us, and the chemical mess that is often our brains. But I'm trying to let those things motivate me, rather than discourage me. I need us to liberate ourselves in Trump era. I need us to remember that this is ours too.
Some people prefer making zines by hand, others like making them digitally, but either way works. Nowadays I intergrate both digital and handmade practices, but my initial experience with zine-making was digital. As I started spending more time on my laptop in 2012, putting the zine together was more of an extension of the things I was already doing. I will write another workflow/resource post on my current flow, but for sake of providing different making options, I'll first go over zines that are made mostly on a computer.
A zine is a self-made publication. Similar to magazines, they may contain writing, art, comics, photography, and editorial design. Unlike them, zines are usually created on a much smaller budget, and lean towards DIY principles; the content, format, printing, and distribution is up to the discretion and means of the people creating them. Zines are traditionally made with paper, but nowadays many people also make them digitally, and use platforms such as Issuu to publish them online.
The fact that zines can be made with a single copy paper, makes them cheaper and more accessible than many other art mediums. Their low-production cost has allowed them to be used in many grassroots movements, and has enabled many artists and writers to be self-published. The fact that a single paper (all we need for a 4fold zine) can be copied for 10cents at a local pharmacy or 99cent store makes zines a great way for anyone to be self-published.