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?
By Tanya Sotelo
It is almost that time again, time for our son's IEP (Individualized Education Plan). This year it has come a few months early. For those of you out there with kiddos who have IEP’s, you know it is time to fire up those search engines, go through your files and notes, and possibly get ready to fight for more, or for what you already have in place for your kiddo! If you do not know what an IEP is, here is a brief description “The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services.” https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/what-difference-between-iep-and-504-plan
Now, this isn’t our annual IEP, this is one of those fun emergency IEP’s that comes up because of behavior or academic concerns, or in this case a little of both. As you may or may not know, I am the associate editor for Aurtistic Zine “Hi!” my husband and I have a seven-year-old autistic son. He was diagnosed at three and was in Special Education up until kindergarten when he went to general education with a one on one aide. We have had many, many IEP meetings. The most IEP’s in one year I believe was five during TK! That was a doozy of a year and as parents, we learned a lot and really had to fight for accommodations.
The fact that an emergency IEP is being requested was not entirely unexpected. We wanted to meet with his teacher before requesting one, and as fate would have it a parent-teacher conference had already been scheduled. When we met with her his teacher, who is understanding, lovely, kind, sharp and truly adores our kiddo, expressed her concern for our son. She explained that while he loved science, history, and stem he was struggling with reading, writing, and math (can I just ugh I hate 1st grade math). He had expressed to her that she was going “too fast” but she explained she could not slow down for him. She told us “First grade is fast-paced it’s like bam, bam, bam!” she could see his frustration as it was manifesting in behaviors and emotional outbursts.
Not gonna lie y’all internally I was screaming. I understand, of course, there are 25 other kiddos and it is not possible to pause the whole lesson for one child but as I nodded along my heart was crumbling. My son who had difficulty most times expressing his needs verbally had let it be known that he could not keep up, but he couldn’t get the help he needed. He was stuck as his classmates marched ahead.
We knew he wasn’t a fan of math. It was plain as day on his face when it was time to do homework. Fifteen minutes of work dragged into an hour. He was not engaged in the work and couldn’t concentrate. I am not pushy with it I don’t want him to hate learning, I try to make it fun, but I couldn’t get him to pay attention. Each week a new strategy was introduced when he had just gotten used to the last one, which I know he finds frustrating.
I had actually considered homeschooling when our son was first diagnosed, but we knew our kiddo and us as parents needed the support of professional educators. There was also a big emphasis on social interaction for our son. We were just learning the ropes on how to better support our son, it’s an ongoing lesson. Now that our son is older my mind has been drifting back to the idea of homeschooling, where we could provide one on one instruction and a curriculum around his interests as well as the foundations that he, of course, needs to learn should he later want to pursue higher education.
I mentioned this idea to our son’s teacher during the meeting and she advised that homeschooling Autistic kids is difficult. What she had in mind was to call an emergency IEP, which we obviously were in agreement with as we had intended to request one ourselves. Her plan is to recommend SAI (Specialized Academic Instruction essentially the kids are in small groups and can work at a slower pace) class for the subjects that he is struggling in. He would then go back to her class for the subjects he was ok with. She believes this would lessen his frustration with the work. To us that sounded like a solid plan, in my head though there was a little voice that said ”for now”. Despite his frustrations he enjoys school and likes his teachers and peers. We agreed that this is the course of action we would take at the IEP meeting. When I got home the nagging Although we agreed I was still conflicted. My gut was urging me not to be dismissive of my intuition.
Our main objective is, and always has been, to make sure our son is happy and emotionally healthy. He can always learn new things even if it takes him longer but I’ll be damned if my child is going to stress about school he’s in first grade for crying out loud! I’ll be quite honest and this may be an unpopular opinion but, I really don’t care about grades, I care about how my son feels when he knows he can’t keep up in a system that seems to be not made for kids like him.
It saddens me to know that amazing teachers are restricted to this narrow way of teaching, who otherwise perhaps be able slow things down or allowed to focus on the child’s strengths, but there is testing to be done, so that is not to be. I appreciate her effort in doing that instead of letting our son struggle I wish that more could be done, but I realize now it will not happen with the way the current system is set up.
I was feeling very conflicted when I started writing this blog post. I was unsure of my own abilities and the prospect of home-schooling was daunting, but as I am nearing the end I have gained clarity. After much soul searching and with the encouragement and support from friends, other parents, my therapist, and most importantly my dear husband I have decided to honor my intuition as a mother. It will not be something that can be done overnight we have a lot of work to do. There is research, planning, saving, to be done but I am ready to embark on this new learning and life adventure with my family.
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.