Figge installation II

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Last week we were invited to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa (see details here) to install an oral history window mural entitled Let’s Chat About Civil Rights / Let’s Chat About Civic Memory. Here are a few process shots, with Sheika Lugtu, Melissa Mendes, Chris Reno, and Tessa Pozzi working on the mural. (Anne Elizabeth Moore was behind the camera.)

 

Figge installation

We’re off to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa at the behest of St. Ambrose University this week to install an original window mural. (In-progress draft below by Melissa Mendes.) The images, by Mendes and Sheika Lugtu, will be accompanied by oral histories from local Quad Cities residents regarding two major aspects of Davenport’s participation in the struggle for civil rights, and public commemoration of that past: the fight for equal marriage and black history.

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The interviews, conducted by Chris Reno and Tessa Pozzi of SAU’s Catich Gallery and edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore, focused on how folks defined and experienced civil rights, and what visible reminders of past struggles they had located in their community. Questions were inspired by articles on the queerest cities in America; this amazing wedding; and the city’s destruction of sites of black history, as well as this powerpoint presentation on civil rights in Iowa and this video (from SAU!) on a planned civil rights walking tour.

Our interviewees were very generous with their time and our questions, and gave some beautiful insight into the Davenport area, and the absolute importance of keeping a constantly updated notion of civil rights at the center of public conversation. You’ll see more in the mural when we finish it April 7—a part of SAU’s Fair Play conference, hope you can come—but some of the quotes we’re most inspired by are below.

PASTOR RICH HENDRICKS

“I didn’t come out until I was 40. I grew up here—the community has become more diverse. I left here when I went to college. I don’t remember any African-American kids in my elementary school. …

“I grew up a product of a poor education. We had no sex ed when I was growing up. I didn’t realize that gay was an option. … My only recollection of a comment when I was younger was, I can remember my folks or their friends saying something about ‘those people down by the levy.’ The way they said it, you could tell it was dirty. I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I could tell it was unacceptable. That was, you know, the cruising area.”

VICKI PHIPPS

“I have the best job in the whole world. In my own work, I address power relationships. In one of the projects I’m working on, I’m working with a biracial student on this notion of microaggressions. In general, why does a person of difference have to educate everyone else? Can art and design help further that?”

“I’m the last member of my family that could move back to the reservation. But people don’t meet me and go ‘Oh, Native American!’ Whereas they do see [my student] and go, ‘You’re black.’ So we both have a long list of things that follow us that you can’t leave behind. …”

KAYLA BUSHEY

“I feel like civil rights really mean equality. Equality for every type of person. … I feel like that really gets smudged along the way. It’s weird to say that I am this, or I am that, but according to standardized tests, I am half Caucasian, half African-American. My dad’s side is the white side and my mom’s side is the black side. It’s strange because here in school, either you’re a part of the Black Student Union, or you are the populous of the white student body. I feel like I try to tread that line—honestly, trying to get that privilege on both sides. Or wherever I can. I’ll go over to my dad’s side of the family. He’s a general in the military and he wants rights for people, but only if people have earned their rights. It’s hard to be like, well you were born with rights. Then I go to my mom’s side of the family, and she’s like, we need women’s rights, we need LGBTQ rights. I even have friends who haven’t experienced that push and pull from both sides. … I think when people pick and choose what kind of rights people should and shouldn’t get, they’re not really enforcing civil rights.”

ANONYMOUS

“Right or wrong, the assumption has been that gay, lesbian, transgender, and/or bisexual people are outside of the realm of—this is gonna sound bad—us good black folks. So then those of us who fit any of those [categories] are on the fringes. I remember studying sociology and talking about marginal people. So if you were white and gay and male in the 1960s, then you were kinda marginalized. But you still had your whiteness and your maleness, but if you’re black and lesbian, then you got nothin’.”

 

Comics Undressed request!

Friends,

As we round the final corners of this long, long, documentary-making process on this International Women’s Day, we have a request. We’d like to you to be involved directly in the film—possibly even in it. We have some questions and we’d love to hear what you have to say. Your feedback will be used to bolster the film’s message and narrative as we summarize our findings and thoughts.

Feel free to respond in writing or in video —  we may use your words to accompany our animation or we may include your video directly in the film. You can leave comments below, or reach us at ladydrawersdocumentary@gmail.com — we’ll be integrating feedback through the month.

Here are the questions:

  • What do you think the top 5 biggest or most interesting changes have been in the cultural sphere of comics, geek culture, and nerddom in the past few years, especially in regards to representation on the page, on the screen, and behind the scenes?
  • What has been the most significant change and how has it affected you?
  • What gives you hope, and what makes you ambivalent, hesitant, or nervous?

We can’t wait to hear your thoughts, and even more, we can’t wait to share the final product with you.

International Comics Survey deadline: May 15

Our International Comics Survey—currently available in EnglishFinnishGermanLatvian, and Spanish—has a brand new deadline: May 15. Don’t stress out! We’re doing this because we’ll be running the data in an exciting Chicago-based workshop with our international feminist cohort starting at the end of May, and then turning them into comic scripts—or maybe even comics—during our Finnish residency in July.

To be specific, we are hoping for 100 Spanish and Latvian respondents by mid-May, 85 more German respondents, and 30 more English respondents. That should get us going in the Spring!

It’s a long survey, but it’s the information we need. Therefore, after you have filled it out, you can request a brief neck massage from The Ladydrawers or the next time you’re seated near us at a convention.

We are also actively seeking Swedish, Malay, Russian, French, and Japanese translators; if you’d like to pitch in, we’d love to work with you!

 

GERMAN, and other International Comics Survey developments!

As you are surely aware, we here at Ladydrawers HQ—in conjunction with pals actually literally around the world—are working hard to gather any and every bit of data we can on race, gender, physical ability, maternity, and economics in the comics industry, everywhere. This, as you can imagine, is a difficult and time-consuming task, especially when it is all volunteer run by folks who don’t get paid a ton in their regular jobs. Which, by the way, is just as true for women in comics in the US as it is for women in comics in Finland, if our current findings are any indication! (Spoiler alert: they are.)

That being said, through the tireless efforts of Vienna-based women’s rights and culture organizer Katharina Brandl, we have just added a German language edition of our international comics survey! Please forward it far and wide to all your German-speaking comics-creating pals (and those who aspire to such an exalted position) so we can continue to provide you with interesting and depressing information on global freedom of expression!

We are working hard to complete Swedish, Malay, Russian, French, Japanese, and other versions of the survey now. (If you have language skills to donate, please get in touch!) In response to our current translations, we could use more male and non-binary respondents. We would like to have more English-speaking respondents. We appreciate the possibility of more Spanish- and Latvian-speaking respondents. We crave more dolphin respondents, but what are you gonna do? We require more Italian-speaking respondents. To achieve these, we have decided leave all versions of the survey open until further notice.

That all being said, our handy guide to currently existing translations of the International Comics Survey is here:

Please share them far and wide, so we can gather as much information as possible. And thank you so much for your input into our exciting if overly sobering work!

Mid-Season Growing Season Update

Although the fifth and sixth installments have yet to post, we’re halfway through Growing Season, our public health and food justice comics journalism series for Truthout. While it’s our fourth season at Truthout, this is only the second year we’ve taken on a single focused subject for year-long exploration. Considering the popularity of Our Fashion Year (to be collected in a book called Threadbare in the spring), we thought it best to give you a little update on where the project stands.

1.R&M

Roots & Migrations, written by Anne Elizabeth Moore and drawn by Sarah Becan, focused on a Chicago-based artist named Fereshteh Toosi, whose food-based work references her own migration history and that reflected in the culture around her.

2. SN

Sarah Becan also drew our second strip, Stinging Nettles, written by Anne Elizabeth Moore. In it we speak to Elizabeth King George in the Pacific Northwest, who leads Native American food explorations in person and online to pass on vital health, healing, and taste traditions.3. Cultivation

Melissa Mendes then joined us for two strips that looked in-depth at Soul Fire Farm, an inspirational food justice program in upstate New York. Cultivation (above) and Cultivating Policy (below) presented the organization’s work around food and racial justice, but also opened up the discussion of food access to a query of the role of food policy.4. CultivatingPolicy 5.Food&Freedom

Our upcoming strip by Sarah Becan and Anne Elizabeth Moore (posting Tuesday at Truthout!) talks to the dude who helps keep an eye on Food and Freedom, Baylen Linnekin. Can’t wait for it? Sorry! We promise it’ll be worth the wait.

Melissa Mendes and Anne Elizabeth Moore return in August with a strip that looks more closely at how particular food policy issues are contributing to a public health epidemic. It hits a little close to home for some of us, so we’re not even going to preview it for you. Just stock up on some hankies next week and we should all be good to go on the second Tuesday of the month, as usual.

Comments? Suggestions for artists, interview subjects, or food issues to bring in? We’d love it if you’d leave ’em below.