By Jeremy Arias
We lined up outside the classroom door ready for our last class of the day. Five minutes went by after the bell until the door shot swinging open by a frustrated, old lady.
“Oh my god!” She whined. “This is the fourth time today! Come on in, why are all you standing around like a bunch of kids? Get in and have a seat.”
And with that said, she let in the class of fifth graders.
“Now your teacher tells me you have a seating arrangement,” she looked up from a note and scanned the class. “Is everyone in their seat?”
“Yes,” we collaboratively lied. I was sitting with Tim, Oscar, and Danny, who kept throwing around the pen Mike infected with Herpes in third period. Danny threw it at Oscar, who instinctively deflected it onto my desk. When the Herpes Pen crashed onto my desk, my self preservation instincts kicked in and I slapped it off the table just as the sub was passing by.
“Did you not notice you dropped your pen!” She growled as she lurched down to my eye level. “Pick that up, I’m gonna break my back picking that up.”
All my friends were holding back laughter as I leaned over to pick up what the sub publicly announced was my Herpes Pen. She continued taking attendance as I quickly threw the pen back to Tim, tagged the Herpes over to Oscar, and raised two fingers being immune from the herpes. Just as our game of sophisticated cooties was getting competitive, The Sub finished taking attendance and demanded the class’s attention for five minutes.
“Your teacher left you all an easy assignment,” she adjusted her glasses. “Please have the students open their textbook to page 85 and follow the prompt. Have the students present their play at the end of class.”
The assignment was to read the two pages before the prompt and write a play about effective and healthy communication during disagreements. The Sub then projected on the board two vague examples of what we can use.
“I’ll give you guys until two o’clock to present, until then you rehearse. If you’re done presenting early, you can have free time.”
The class shot up and got to work with the words “free time.” It could be total anarchy in the classroom. A game of poker on table one, tech-decks in group two, someone busted out the whiteboards over on four, people gossiping at three, table five has those weird quiet kids that never took off their sweaters, and table six has been abandoned because it’s the closest to the teacher’s desk.
But in the meantime, I was the writer and director of conflict. I skimmed through the text and jumped to the paper where I began to write a dialogue about two friends undecided on what movie to watch. Because we had a third person in the group, I added the movie clerk to help break a tie or suggest an alternative as part of reaching their conclusion. I was three pages in when I showed my group what I made with the Herpes Pen.
They were impressed with the script and eager to start rehearsing under the condition they didn’t touch the paper. They quickly memorized their lines, practiced their delivery, and asked if I could feed them their lines in case nerves got the better of them. We practiced twice before The Sub called the class to attention and asked who wanted to go first.
“We do!” Tim shot his hand up stunning The Sub and the class. It wasn’t often that the group with slackers volunteered to be the first to go in front of the class.
“Okay, go on up,” she kept an unimpressed look plastered on her face as she leaned her head back and pulled her eyes forward.
“Can we turn off one of the lights?” Danny asked and pointed to the light switch.
“What do you think this is? Theater?” She shook her head and pointed at me kneeling down with the script. “What’s he doing down there?”
“I have the script, in case they forget their lines,” I held the script up to show her.
“No, no, no!” She growled. “Bring me that! What is that?”
She snatched it out of my hands.
“You did it all wrong!” She looked at me with her head tilted so she can see my face above the rims of her glasses.
“You were supposed to follow the examples I put up on the board, didn’t you listen.”
“We were supposed to use that?” Tim asked as we all gazed at the two vague options on the board.
“You guys were too busy giggling to listen to what I said,” she sat up right and looked at the class. “Since they can’t follow directions, who wants to go next?”
“Okay then, this group, go up,” she volunteered table six, and up they went as we shamefully took our seats.
What the fuck? Oscar mouthed as he subtly swung a fist in the air when she wasn’t looking. The next group was in front.
“Okay so who is person one?” The Sub asked.
“I am,” answered person one.
“And person two?” The Sub asked.
“Me,” answered the only other person onstage.
“Okay, begin when you’re ready,” she sat back.
“Hey, do you want to watch a funny movie tonight?” Asked person one.
“No, how about a scary movie?” Asked person two.
“I don’t really like scary movies,” replied person one reading his line off the board.
“What about a crime movie?” Asked person two.
“I like crime movies! Sure,” replied person one.
“Good! Hold on stay up there,” The sub clapped and prompted the class to do the same. “See that wasn’t so hard, but some of you don’t like following directions. So what did we get from this play? What was the disagreement?”
“They didn’t know what-“
“Raise your hand! Yes, go ahead now,”
“They didn’t know what to watch,”
“And how did they solve this?” She scanned the class with her slimy eyes. “Did nobody else see the play? He offered a solution!”
Our group was stone faced mad. For once the group of slackers came together to put a work of art and volunteered to present only to be shut down for being creative and doing better than we were supposed to. The next group hid their script and went up to read the exact same set of monotone lines. They were then met with a forced applause, their faces bystander to the censor of creativity, but too afraid to disrupt the status quo, even if it was temporarily enforced by a slimy-eyed old woman we’d never see again. The Sub clapped and let us have free time.
By Jeremy Arias
Last week, Art Block's Editorial Board met to review some of the submissions we’ve received for our next issue on the theme of being behind the scenes of the life of an artist. As usual, we had a philosophical minute questioning what is and isn’t art, who is and isn’t an artist, and who the hell are we to decide?
I grip the pen and write along the lines of my notebook, while our talented Art Director, Roque, doodled vivid images swinging around the same lines like monkeys on branches. His meeting notebook reminded me of my notes in my freshman year of college, words desperately trying to look professional, be useful, and fit in, but painted on the outskirts of the margins were couches, weird lava-lamp flow bubbles, all the signs of a madman desperately trying to escape his confines. What does being behind the scenes mean to him?
As we review your talented and artistic submissions, we have been seeing different mediums, perspectives, and thoughts flourishing from what it means to be behind the scenes. Do you picture a blackbox theater with green screens, cameras, and lights? Or do you see a kitchen with intricate tools? A typewriter under a lamp in a dark room? A blank canvas in a room exploding with color?
While we cannot define art, we as humans know it when we see it, and get lost when creating it.
Photographed above is Art Block's newest Board Member, Roque, who we are honored to have serving as our Art Director.
Today's piece is a canvas painting titled, Not a Disability, but a Different Ability by Guera that has been featured in Aurtistic Zine's first issue, Spectrum. To check out more of Aurtistic Zine's published work, you can purchase a copy of their zine here in the store, or stay tuned here for more!
By Jeremy Arias
A quick glance at the blank 11x17 inch paper triggered a flash of memories. Fold after fold, cut, twist, push, hug, and create. It all came back.
“The first step to making your zine, is to hold up your paper so it stands nice and tall,” I held my paper up to demonstrate and the class followed along.
“Next, we’re going to fold it hamburger style,” i pulled the top end of the paper down as if it was reaching for it’s toes, then I creased the fold to a sharp point.
“We’re going to fold it in half one more time," I instructed as the class eagerly followed along.
“Now we’re going to fold it again, crease it,” I watched the class. “Now we’re going to unfold our paper so we see eight little rectangles on our sheet.
“Next, we repeat the first step and fold it downwards, then look for the side with the loop formed from the fold.”
“Cut down the middle crease, just down to the center of the fold where the two creases meet.”
“Open up the sheet and fold it longways so that we have a long thin rectangle. You’re going to notice the opening from the cut we just made, point that side up and prepare for the next step.”
“This step can be tricky, but pinch your zine from the two endpoints of the opening and slowly push the two together so the folds form a cross.”
“Pick a corner of two flaps and make them “hug” the pages closed. These flaps will become your front and back cover.”
“Now you have your zine and you’re ready to start creating! You can use whatever you’d like to get creative: Markers, colored pencils, newspaper or magazine cut-outs, paint, or whatever it is you do that you do!”
People were surprised to have made a blank book out of nothing in just a few minutes. In each and every person staring down at the white pages, you can see their excitement revive, the flashes of endless possibilities of creation at their hands. There was a moment of confusion induced silence right before the ripples of noise spread and intensified. Boxes of pencils opening, students sharing ideas and materials, chairs backing up, and the occasional sounds of hip hop hiding the silences.
Not too long after, some students had more developed pages with astonishing hand drawn pictures, comic strips, poems, magazine cut-out collages, and even a pop-up book! It was rewarding to see the smiles and art created by the students in so little time. I hope the instructions were easy to follow along and not nearly as boring as that yellow and blue Swedish furniture store everyone seems to know about. If you're interested in participating a zine making workshop, click here to visit our workshop schedule near the bottom of the page and find a workshop at a library near you!
By Jeremy Arias
When we arrived at the library we were escorted to the recreation room on the opposite side of the main floor. The recreation room was not only spacious and empty, but was also just outside the librarian’s noise jurisdiction, giving us more than we needed to inspire and teach some of the community’s people.
Luis started a sign-in sheet while Angie and I spread out paper, glue sticks, scissors, colored pencils, erasers, and sharpeners for each of our students. As Luis displayed some sample zines, the room was slowly beginning to look alive, but something was still missing. The room was oddly quiet as I began to think about what it was we were forgetting.
A groovy beat dropped the smooth sound of Hip Hop, filling the silence with thought quenching music. Luis smirked as he closed his ipad, leaving it to play music while the students began to arrive
Every few minutes or so, a new face would walk through the door, some shy, some excited, and some with parents eager to see why everyone was so excited and lively. The room began to fill up with more people than we anticipated, so we spread out the last of our supplies and encouraged students to make friends and share what they had. Slowly, the sound of community drowned the sound of the music, as it typically does when it brings us together.
“Good afternoon everyone, welcome, and thank you for coming,” Luis smiled from the front and center gathering the room’s attention. “My name is Luis, with me over here is Angie and Jeremy, and today we are going to show you how to make a zine. How many of you know what a zine is, or have ever heard of a zine?”
The crowd answered with blank stares and silence.
“Well,” Luis reached for a sample zine from the desk in front of him and opened it to display it. There were images of cats and dogs displayed in the pages. “A zine is a little booklet, think about it like a maga-zine, but smaller, homemade, and if you undo these folds…”
Luis unfolded the zine showing off the panels now disoriented and flipped on a single piece of paper.
“You can see, the zine is all on one sheet of paper, and there’s a poster on this side!” He turned the paper around to reveal the poster image occupying the opposite side of the paper. The students were all impressed by the seclusion of the poster, the detail of the art itself, and the excitement in knowing that in just a few minutes, they too can learn how to create one.
“So what do people do with zines?” he asked rhetorically. “Some people use zines as a form of expression, for art, comics, or even other practical uses like this person who turned their zine into a business card.” Shocked, some students leaned over their desks to get a closer look at the different shapes and sizes zines can morph into.
“So, now Jeremy here is going to show you how to make your own zines! Jeremy, take it away!”
As I stepped in front of the crowd, the script I practiced countless times in my head seemed to have disappeared. I was faced with embers of faces losing the flame of interest Luis had sparked.
“Good afternoon everyone,” I greeted trying to stall time to search for words. “I’m Jeremy, and I’ll be showing you how to make a zine! The first step to making a zine is…”
Where was my sense of direction? I’d done this so many times before, and suddenly the steps slip me by. How do you make a zine?
The content displayed here is submitted by various local authors, artists, and more, and is curated by the DSTL Arts Art Block Zine–Editorial Board. Works published here are done so with the permission of all artists involved. Artists hold all rights to their work, and none of it may be reproduced without their permission.