The “Turning the Page: Artists’ Books, Zines, Language and ArtThe exhibition organized by ASU’s A Buncha Book Artists (ABBA) club features the works of students using a variety of artistic mediums – primarily zines – to share their stories, experiences and ideas.
The works, on display at ASU Design and the Arts Library, feature an array of themes from social justice to abstract interpretations of love, loss and growth.
Daniella Napolitano, graduate student and teacher at ART 111, said she noticed a resurgence in student artistic expression through zines during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Zines are a book-like art form that displays any variety of emotions, events, or ideas through prints, text, and images.
“(The show) was basically curated from a bunch of different zines that they created throughout the semester,” Napolitano said. “ABBA has had this policy from the very beginning that we don’t want to turn anyone away from our shows because everyone has a starting point like the artist books, we want them to be for everyone.”
Napolitano stressed the importance of involving a wide variety of students in artistic showcases. She said the scope of ABBA and ART 111, which addresses foundational skills using drawing media, allowed curious non-art-oriented students to express themselves through artistic means.
Wilson Burghardt, a graduate student in illustration, called her displayed piece “Instructions on How to be Boy Crazy.” She said her piece was largely inspired by her experience with the male sex and her love, infatuation and affection for them.
“Rather than doing another piece that’s supposed to separate me as an independent woman, or doing another feminist manifesto about how I don’t need this physical attraction to feel whole, I wanted to celebrate my independence as than anyone who embraces my sexuality,” Burghardt said. . “I find that more powerful than rejecting who I am.”
Burghardt studied art at a community college and the University of Edinboro before coming to ASU. She transferred to ASU to further her studies and artistic endeavors, where she said she found a lot of freedom to work with different mediums.
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“In this freedom, I went from just a struggling art student who’s still trying to learn the basics like anatomy and color to someone who can throw everything on the wall and see exactly what sticks and j I finally figured out… my thoughts are more important than anything technical,” Burghardt said.
Equally festive and expressive, Autumn Byars, a young art student, shared her piece titled “[No] Hard Feelings.” The piece featured an amalgamation of Taylor Swift’s lyrics, excerpts from her favorite poems and two self-portraits to capture the emotional turmoil of the aftermath of a particularly heartbreaking breakup.
“I was going through a really rough breakup at the time and thinking about how it was an experience that really subverted itself,” Byars said. “Sometimes you’re on top of the world and you rediscover parts of yourself and it’s beautiful and other times you’re absolutely crushed and it’s awful.”
Byars used a multi-pronged design to depict the multiple layers of a breakup and express a variety of emotional connections and experiences that “encapsulate how complicated and important an experience like this is”.
Byars also shared experiences similar to Burghardt regarding the relationship between artistic freedom and expression and ASU’s arts programs. Byars said the artistic freedom offered by the program has helped her on her journey as an artist.
“I think ASU has a really nice environment to explore,” Byars said. “I felt really respected as an artist by a lot of my teachers, which is really nice. It makes you feel like your ideas are competent enough to explore.”
The work of Burghardt and Byars, along with the work of other student artists, will continue to be displayed in the ASU Design and the Arts Library until May 20.
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