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Big News! Doug Wright Award Nomination, TCAF, Past Talks, Catch-up, and So On

THE DOUG WRIGHT AWARDS & TCAF

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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.

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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.

Programs for RISD

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.

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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?

Accordion book: front

Accordion book: back

Sketches

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.

Books Events

Thank You For a great Toronto Queer Zine Fair & Canzine 2015!

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My sincerest and most humble gratitude to everyone at the Toronto Queer Zine Fair today. I never thought I would find my people, but when I table here I know I did. I have never felt anything like it. Thank you to all of the volunteers I never got to meet, but whose efforts no doubt shaped my experience. Thank you to organizers Eddie, Geoff, and Yasmeeen. Thank you so much to whoever found and brought me an Advil – I have no idea where it came from, but because of that Advil I could stay for the rest of the fair. Thank you to Terah Li, Kieran Meyn, and Brad Casey who were my moral support and strength throughout the day. You are angels, all of you! Thank you to everyone who came out, who showed me your good vibes and smiles and belief in what I do.

Thank you to my wonderful assistant, who tabled for me at Canzine – his first zine/comics/art fair ever – all by his lonesome because the fairs were scheduled at exactly the same time and I could not be in two places at once. If that’s not love, I’m not quite sure what is.

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Thank you to everyone who has purchased Witchbody so far. It is such a vulnerable work for me and so it has been a blessing to have the response be so positive. It has only been out for a week and already I am 37% sold out. I had 300 copies in the first (and only, so far) print run, and within one week there are only 189 copies left. Thank you! I feel blessed.

And: a final thank you to everyone whose work inspires me so much, who I am happy to be in community with – however near or far – and creating alongside, even if we all do it by ourselves at home with our cats. It is so nice to come out of hiding and see what everyone has been working on, take it home, and cuddle up to read it.

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Photos from top to bottom: Toronto Queer Zine fair, by Sabrina Scott; Canzine by Adrien Benson; TQZF haul of sweet goodies by Sabrina Scott

Books Events

In Gratitude (Book Launch Reflections, and Upcoming Zine Fair Appearances!)

I’m settling into bed the evening after the evening after my launch and for the first time in a long time, I feel like dancing.

For the first time in a long time, I felt community. I felt held, supported, seen. Appreciated. I felt able to speak. For the first time in a long time I met so many people I have never seen before and I am humbled by their faith in someone they have never met and have no reason to trust. I am humbled by the presence of so many people who I have not seen in a very long time: to whom I owe so much, but as of late – in the hustle, in illness, in madness – have been able to give only a little. And yet: you, all of you, have given me your new moon Tuesday night. In Libra. You have trusted me with your bodies and your ears.

Here’s to new friends and old. To reaching out to strangers, to singing out into the darkness without knowing if there is someone there to hear but trusting that somewhere, out there, there is. Another beating heart. Another vibrating materiality. Electric.

To calm my anxiety before the launch, I re-read one of my favourite astrologers’ post on the night’s dark splendour. Chani Nicholas writes:

“Libra aims to connect with you whether you want to or not. Libra leads with charm, is ceaselessly charismatic and can turn any opportunity into a meet and greet. If you are alive, a Libra nearby would like to say hi.”

So many of you did. Thank you.

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I am really humbled and so honoured for the opportunity to be in conversation with amazing environmental educators and academics Chris Cavanagh and Steve Alsop. The book would not be a thing if my life had not been touched by any of these marvelous people, and I am so grateful for their time and energy. And thank you, again, to all of the beating hearts who came out to share the night with me. We shared such an intimate moment and I could not be more thankful.

Anyway, enough babbling from me for now! You can also find my new book at two super excellent events tomorrow in Toronto! Both events are on Saturday, October 17. I wish I could physically be at both, but my books, at least, will! So if you missed the launch party on Tuesday, you can still pick up a copy. I will also have some older zines available.

I will be at the Toronto Queer Zine Fair:

Trinity St Paul’s Church, 427 Bloor St West, 11 am – 7 pm
ASL provided. Childcare provided.
Wheelchair accessible. Entry is PWYC.

More info about the Toronto Queer Zine Fair: https://www.facebook.com/events/448618611986630/

My book will also be at Canzine Toronto:

Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St West, 1 pm – 7 pm
Wheelchair accessible. Entry is free.

More info about Canzine Toronto: https://www.facebook.com/events/643945272412172/

We hope to see you there!

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Photo credit, top to bottom: Clementine Morrigan, Adrien Benson

Books Events

WITCHBODY Comic Book Launch Party! October 13

Witchbody books!!! by Sabrina Scott

My book launch is in a few days!

It’s surreal to finally expose something that has been so intimate and personal, to count down the minutes and days until I have to show something I have poured every drop of blood and sweat I have had to spare, and some sweat and blood I couldn’t stand to spare but did anyway. The whole process is kind of scary. To go into hiding for three years, take some classes, finish a degree, make a book. Start another degree. And then come out of hiding, if only for a moment.

Academia these past three years has been a strangely private journey, where I have in some ways forgotten how to share. There is such a premium placed on the performance of perfection and stoicism and a particular type of intellectualism in those spaces but what I really value is the emergence of experimentation and vulnerability and trying things and fucking up and having everyone revel in the process. In being okay with becoming, rather than pretending we already know all the answers.

I am learning and re-learning how to express through my fingers and skin and also my words in this new jumble of languages I have learned; a cultivated multilingualism new-to-me. Walking the tightrope between so many disciplinary extremes I hope I can straddle these worlds rather than walk between them. I have learned how to feel at home in so many different spaces, to talk with activists and academics and artists and illustrators and designers and occultists. I have learned these languages, but what good is mutltilingualism if I’m not in conversation?

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I am so interested in the lifespan(s) of the work we produce. As artists, writers, illustrators, designers, printmakers, bookmakers, creatives. My book – the full title is “witchbody: a rambling & poetic autoethnography of western occult magic as a pathway for environmental learning & advocacy” – was in some ways a meditation on impermanence, on mutual touch that can be felt between us and the bodies we meet. There are so many people and places that I have met who have helped shape me. It’s also an exploration of what it can look like when we try to come together, to learn each others’ ways of being and knowing.

If you can come out to the local launch in Toronto on October 13, I’d love to see you. Dance under the new moon with me. Or, you know – just cuddle up with some blankets and candlelight while we talk of noticing magic, what it can mean to be a witch in the city, possibilities for environmentalism and education, wonky philosophy, and everything in between. Chris Cavanagh and Steve Alsop will be in conversation with me about my book. Ask me a question at the Q&A!

Brief Launch Deets:

October 13, 2015, 8-11pm
Misfit Studio, 761 Queen St West, Toronto, 3rd floor
Books will be available at the event for $25 CAD (cash only!)

Or you can pre-order until Oct 12! $20 CAD + shipping if you’re not local, or if you can’t pick up your copy at the launch event. If you’re interested email me! sabrinadraws@gmail.com – for pre-order I am accepting PayPal and bank transfer!

More info & RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/727058474091394/