OCEANSIDE — The Kruglak Art Gallery at MiraCosta College was buzzing with the energy of artists cutting, typing and creating Feb. 3. The gallery was hosting
a reception for “Zines! (Re)Make History,” curated by Margarat Nee and Kim Schwenk, of Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go. The interactive exhibit honors and encourages self-expression in a display of video narratives, handmade books and collective collages that cocoon a central craft area, or “scrap lodge,” with cutting tables and typing stations.
“It’s all new to me,” Jordan Smilo said as he stood typing. Smilo is a MiraCosta College student and Carlsbad resident. “Amazing, overwhelming, it’s great to see such liberal work.”
Gallery attendees drifted between being “zine” creators and spectators as they read books, created collages, listened to videos and wrote stories. “We are the artist,” Danielle Adams said as she constructed a collage. Adams is a Cal State San Marcos student and Ramona resident.
A “zine” or fanzine, is a self-published magazine-like book that mixes comics, text and pop art collages on topics that are usually outside the mainstream.
The offbeat self-published zines on display at the Kruglak Art Gallery range from “how-to” books on reclaiming water and herbal abortions to a personal narrative on “white privilege” from the point of view of a white male. “Zines is an individual, self-published media,” Nee said. The goal is to empower the artists to express their own unique, uncensored voice. “It’s about getting the word out without going through an editor,” Nee said.
While creativity flowed at the reception, unabandoned self-expression is not always the norm. “If you can see how much we have to encourage people sometimes,” Schwenk said. “We have to let them know they’re ‘allowed to.’”
The zines network gives many writers the acceptance and community they need to write. “We want to be sure everyone can create media,” Nee said.
Nee began to self-publish zines in the 1980s, and often wrote on feminist topics. Her writing was considered controversial and triggered some strong opposition, even threats. “It was dangerous,” Nee said. “Zines was my cord.”
Nee and Schwenk created the Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go group, based in San Diego, in 2002.
Their focus is on empowering young women to express themselves in zines workshops and online networking. The need for a safe place to express non-mainstream points of view still exists Nee said. Zines provides that safe space.
“Zines! (Re)Make History,” is on display at the Kruglak Art Gallery at MiraCosta College through Feb. 26.