Wow okay it has been a thousand years since my last update in May, and I have about a thousand more things to update y’all on. So I’ll just get right to it! TCAF 2016 (May 14-15 at the Toronto Reference Library) was AMAZING. I felt high as a kite the entire time just off of good vibes and the insane generosity and love I received from like everyone I met. I also had a new banner thing and business cards printed, which you can see in some of the images accompanying this text! I’m really stoked on how they turned out.
My book Witchbody (currently sold out, second edition in the works and available soon) was nominated for the Doug Wright Nipper Award, which is the ‘emerging talent’ category, so that was pretty cool. Even though I didn’t win I totally did in my heart, hahaha, so I’m just going to pretend I did. Anyway we are all winners, am I right? Of course. Big congrats to all the nominees, official ‘winners’ or not. Also, huge love to everyone who came out to my table to say hello, I actually had The Best Time Ever and that is very much thanks to everyone I met.
I also tabled at the first Ottawa Zine Fair (June 4 at the Bronson Centre), which was absolutely fucking fantastic. The picture below was taken after the zine reading the night before the fair, at which myself and a bunch of other folks performed our writing. I had a great time and more or less sold out of Witchbody’s first printing at this event. I had the great honour to read some of my writing at an event put on the night before the fair, and it went super super well. A few days before the fair I also had the pleasure of being interviewed on the radio about the zine fair and my work, and I do a short little reading on it too. I was interviewed with Mariela Libedinsky by Mitchell Caplan on a CHUO show called ‘Click Here.’ The interview is below.
I went to Edmonton, Alberta to speak at the The Three Societies Meeting which was held June 22-25 at the University of Alberta. The ‘Three Societies’ in question are the British Society for the History of Science, Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, and the History of Science Society. The theme for the conference was ‘Transitions’ and my panel was called ‘Knowledge from the Edge.’ I had the pleasure of presenting alongside my brilliant colleagues Bill Atkinson, Nox Dineen-Porter, and Tyler Hnatuk. The panel was incredibly well received, I am happy to report! The paper I presented was called “Developing Highly Sensitive Instruments: Spiritualist Mediumship and Séance Science in Victorian Britain” and I am hoping to develop it further.
When I was in Edmonton I also had a pleasure of facilitating a workshop under the auspices of APIRG (the Alberta Public Interest Research Group, an activist organization) and The Landing (whose slogan is ‘A Space for Gender and Sexual Diversity’) at Lotus Gallery. It was called ‘Energy Work for Facilitators.’ Here’s the workshop description:
“In this two-hour session, learn some practical skills for how to work with magic, energy, and ritual in your teaching and facilitation. Taught from a non-denominational perspective influenced by life-long praxis in Spiritualism and witchcraft, this workshop focuses on feeling energy, working with energy, setting up and releasing space. If time and interest permits, we can also discuss how to incorporate understandings of energy, magic, and spirit into art-making practice.”
I’m really happy to have had the opportunity to have met everyone who showed up. I am so touched by the vulnerability and heart each person brought to the space we shared together. The communal energy really was electric. Huge love to my main girl Laura Kruse for organizing this! You can see a lot of the beautiful souls who participated in the photo above.
Fast forward to Texas where I spent a week in July for the ICON 9 Illustration Conference, which was held at the Hilton in Austin from July 6-9. I spoke as a part of the Education Symposium, and my talk was the same one I gave in RISD last November for the Illustration Research Symposium. It was called “Drawing the Other: Illustration and Representation.” I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but if you’re interested in reading the abstract it is in my last update. I’m likely going to post the full talk transcript shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for it, including the slides from the visual presentation that appeared alongside my talk. If you haven’t been to ICON, it’s a strange bird! Worth checking out at least once. Happy to meet so many amazing educators.
I also tabled at the Toronto Anarchist Book Fair on July 23-24, which was, as always, a lot of fun. There were so many families there this year!
I made it out to Montreal a few times this summer as well: for a book fair, and because I had a painting in a show! Camp Gallery was a month-long pop-up gallery in July, and I had work in the ‘Summer Camp’ half, which was installed for the second half of the month. I went to montreal for the closing party on July 29. It’s an honour to be involved; the curatorial crew really put together something special inspired by an incredibly unique vision. I also tabled at Queer Between the Covers in Montreal on August 13. It is a book/zine fair with a queer flavor, which was a lot of fun, and I’m always happy to be back in my hometown of Montreal.
In other news – on the more present and upcoming front – I will be debuting the second edition of Witchbody in two weeks at the fourth annual Toronto Queer Zine Fair. It’s the biggest yet, and it’s going to be fucking amazing. Deets on the poster below. I’ll also be tabling at Canzine on October 29, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 1-7pm. Both fairs should be super awesome and are definitely worth going to if you’re into books, comics, zines, book arts, and everything in between! At this witchy time of year I’d like to go out of my way to remind y’all that I read tarot professionally. I’ve been reading for around 16 years now, and I know what I’m doing – so if you think you might need to talk something out and that I may be the right person to talk it out with, please do check out my Tarot Readings page. I swear I don’t bite, readings with me can be really fun! It’s a great time of year to take advantage of the big energies of change all around us.
In other news, I’ll also be in Edinburgh, Scotland next month for the 7th annual Illustration Research Symposium. The theme this year is ‘Shaping the View,’ and I’ll be presenting a babble about my book Witchbody. I’m super excited – never been to Edinburgh, and I really loved the symposium last year: definitely one of my favourite conference experiences. I’m hoping to have some illustrations in the show they’re mounting alongside the conference. So that’s fun. In other conference news, I’ll be in Montreal next February for something on occult poetics, and that’s all I can share on that topic for now.
I’ve also started to teach at OCAD U, my undergraduate alma mater! I am the course director for the first year Illustration course Illustrative Concepts 1. I can honestly say I absolutely love it and it’s my favourite time of the week. I have a lot to think about in regard to teaching – but it’s one of my favourite topics, and I am really thankful for the energy my students bring to the room when we are sharing time together. OCAD students really are a special bunch and I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to work with them. Next semester I am the course director for a more academic/theory course (the one I’m doing now is studio-based) called Modern American Illustration. I am hoping to approach it as a course with a foundation in contemporary illustration history (1950-present) but also organize it around key concepts or issues in the illustration industry – such as handmade/craft vs mass production, gender, race, auteurship, etc. It’s a work in progress but I’m so excited to work it out, and to put everything in action in January!
I’ll end this absurdly long post by sharing one of the most beautiful things that has happened to me lately. It took me a few weeks to share this publicly. Sometimes when I’m really touched and humbled by something so sweet and amazing, I’m rendered speechless and I can’t respond immediately. This is one of those times. I am so beyond honoured and was moved to the point of tears when I received this message and these photos.
Sabrina, thank you. I’ve been trying to reach out to you for weeks to get your permission for my tattoo, and to explain how much Witchbody has meant to me. I’m not sure how much Juawana shared with you. Someday, sometime, I hope to get to explain my connection to it. In summary, I’ll just say two things:
1. I’ve identified as a witch since I was a small girl, and have long interpreted many women in my family as witches. I didn’t feel I had permission to use those words public ally until WB.
2. The pedagogy of Witchbody gave me a method for staying present and physical, when my mental space was unsafe. It gave me a method to begin to heal. In summary, you have my gratitude and a connection for life. Your voice matters. Your style adds loveliness to the world. Witchbody rules. I chose each symbol carefully. Thank you.
Thank you so much Amey for permission to share your words, and to Mackenzie Swecker in Reno for doing an amazing job translating my illustration into a tattoo. I have so much gratitude and my heart could not be more full, and I can’t imagine the first tattoo of my work looking more badass than this!! I’ll leave this already too-long post on that note – more soon, as always! xooxoxo