THE DOUG WRIGHT AWARDS & TCAF
So! I haven’t updated in about a thousand years, so this is going to be a bit of a big one, from most recent and pressing to least recent. I am incredibly ecstatic to announce that my book Witchbody has been nominated for the 2016 Doug Wright Spotlight Award! It is such a big honour that I honestly can’t even begin to comprehend; the other nominees include a lot of my heroes and folks whose work I really admire. I’ve done a brief interview about it on York University’s YFile, and OCADU kindly made mention of my nomination as well. If you want to come check out the awards event itself, it’s on the evening of Saturday, May 14, from 8-10 PM, in the Forest Hill Ballroom at the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel (90 Bloor St. E.). For more information, check out the Facebook event page.
TCAF (the Toronto Comic Arts Festival) is also happening on the weekend of Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15. I’ll have a table so you should definitely come say hello; it’ll be the 3rd or 4th time I’ve tabled (honestly can’t remember), but the first time I’ve tabled outside of the Wowee Zonk Small Press room. It’s at the Toronto Reference Library (Bloor & Yonge) from 9-5 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. As of this writing I only have 99 copies left of the first edition of Witchbody and am in the process of ordering up a second edition, so act fast if you want to snag your copy before pre-ordering starts! I’ve finally set up an online ordering system, so if you’d like your copy of Witchbody shipped directly to your home you can order online here, with Paypal. Otherwise, try your luck at TCAF! Here is a map of where I will be, on the second floor:
TALKS & CONFERENCES
I’ve also done a bunch of talks lately, most recently at the Navigating the Metamodern conference (otherwise known as the 15th Annual Art History Graduate Symposium) on March 19, 2016. It was such a fantastic event, I had a blast! The notion of ‘metamodern’ is actually super neat; here’s a little blurb from the conference’s Call for Proposals:
Metamodernism is not characterized by oppositions or polarities, but rather explores the possibility of oscillating between perspectives, of existing in a liminal state and finding empowerment in that uncertainty. In the arts, this has reintroduced a space for a discussion of the sublime, affect, and materiality alongside theoretical models such as Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontologies.
I presented a talk called Drawing Magical Bodies and Teaching Occult Ontologies in ‘Witchbody’. I’d presented this for the first time in February of this year, also at an art history conference at McGill in Montreal. That conference was called Magic: Between Embodiment and Ontology, and was also super fun, but I have to say I have such a soft spot for the Metamodern conference. I really loved the way each speaker took up the challenge of the CFP, and appreciated how receptive everyone was to my work. Here’s a blurb from my abstract:
I examine why magic is unique, how it can teach, and what it can teach about other-than-human bodies that constitute ‘environment’. Witchcraft makes available an ontology that does not view any beings as exploitable or disposable, and can have powerful repercussions in how human bodies interact with other-than-human bodies. Complicating the simple idea of the performance of magical rituals, I also look at the materiality of magical books as a way of materializing occult ontologies. This comic book is both about witchcraft and an act of witchcraft. The format of the work is inspired both by study of practitioner-made talismanic books (both about spirits and containing spirits). This talk is about the theory within the work, the process of its creation, and artistic production as philosophical labour.
I also had the incredible privilege of giving an hour long lecture and Q&A session at an amazing evening at 8-11 here in Toronto, back on March 10 (photo above). The event was called The Practical Application of the Occult in Music and Art, and shared the bill with the inimitable Edward Mason, with music by SINS and a performance by Rosemary Stehlik. I spoke a bit about my own illustration and book arts work and how the occult has figured into both my work process and content, and I had a fabulous time answering some really amazing nitty gritty questions from the audience. It’s really fun to answer explicit questions about technique, where I can really get into the mechanics of what I do and why I do it in a rigorous way.
Back in November (of 2015) I road-tripped to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, Rhode Island for the 6th Annual Illustration Research Symposium. It was fucking awesome. The theme was Illustrator as Public Intellectual, about which I have a lot to say. If you’re interested in applying to get involved in the 7th Symposium this November, you can check out the CFP by clicking here. The theme is ‘Shaping the View’ and understanding landscape in conjunction with illustration.
Here I am with the amazing Gary Powell, one of my favourite folks I met at the Symposium. His talk was incredibly inspiring (high-energy, amazing work, and a lot of fascinating insights about teaching) and he was just a really cool, approachable guy. If you’re interested in an illustrated (with drawings and photos!) summation of the conference, Jamie Hogan put up a great blog post about it, which includes a super great illustration of yours truly, as well as a photo of one of the slides in my presentation.
Anywho, my talk was called Drawing The Other: Illustration and Representation and here is my fun abstract:
If we take illustration seriously as a form of intellectual and cultural production that influences, reproduces, and reinvigorates public and private discourse, what do the pictures we make and the way we represent human bodies within them say about our personal (as private persons) and public (as creative professionals) understandings of race and gender? Do most of today’s award-winning illustrations challenge dominant power paradigms, or consolidate oppressive hegemonic representations as common sense? What happens when illustrators try to depict The Other? How can we avoid these pitfalls and their consequences? I examine the most recent ten years of award-winning work in the American Illustration annual, and consider the implications of what these selected works say about how illustrators and jurors perceive, represent, and validate representations of race and gender. Following this analysis, I discuss the cultural significance of socially responsible illustration, and present some suggestions for illustrators and educators interested in rethinking how they approach the representation of gendered and racialized bodies in their own work, and that of their students and peers.
I also gave this talk as part of a guest lecture/guest co-facilitation in the lovely and talented Dushan Milic‘s Illustrative Activism course at OCADU this past winter semester. It was so fun to hash some of these ideas out with students! I’m also going to be delivering it in Austin this summer at ICON 9: The Illustration Conference, in the ‘Education’ stream.
Also, just for fun, to right, check out this picture of RISD’s amazing Nature Lab – there were endless rooms of anatomical specimens (human bones, animal bones, living and preserved animals, minerals, dried plants, etc). It seems like a really productive resource for artists and illustrators! I’m trying to figure out an excuse to get myself back there sometime – I could really see myself getting (pleasantly) lost in the rooms upon rooms of animals, vegetables, minerals, and everything in between. It was a total dream!
VILLAGE 89 ILLUSTRATION COMMISSION
Other fun news: I’ve recently been commissioned by artist Lisa Frost to do an illustration for her Village 89 project. Lisa has invited illustrators to create an image to be made into an accordion book. The work I made for this project is called At the Crossroads and you can see some proposal sketches, digital process, and final screen print of the accordion book (both front & back) below.
It was such a fun project to illustrate; it’s not every day I get to just play! The little statement I gave about the work is as follows:
At The Crossroads is a visual meditation on a day in the life of a dedicated city witch. Between collecting herbs, calming unruly spirits, and paying tribute to ancestors, it seems the trials and tribulations of urban magic never end! That’s ok, though – what’s an afternoon without a little chaos?
Anyway! That’s enough babbling from me for now! I have a lot of other exciting things coming up soon, and will be writing a bit about that once the chaos and excitement around TCAF has passed.