SHE IS RESTLESS: The Artist Books of Rebecca Mir Grady

August 20, 2016 · Print This Article

Sometimes it seems impossible to fully conceive environmental space, and the many time scales that extend far beyond that of a single human life. What does it mean to imagine the ever expanding rate of extinction, full absences defined by “critters” I never knew existed, much less imagined. At such times, I simultaneously bump into a limit to my own imagination and the certainty that those limits must break open. With that in mind, I wanted to tie in an ongoing publication project by Rebecca Mir Grady, an artist, bookmaker, and jeweler based out of Chicago. She has been working on her publication series, SHE IS RESTLESS for about five years. The series is deceptively modest; each palm-sized publication is handmade, each dedicated to one subject: spill, drought, lost at sea, polar vortex, each ecologically minded. Upon opening one book, a single page folds out, expanding outside the bounds of its cover into a flat, single graphic. The humility of the endeavor, the shifting and interactive experience of scale, and the delicate line drawings each publication contains collude to offer a path towards making-thinking-learning through environmental crisis. You can read a previous interview I conducted with Mir here.

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Caroline Picard: What made you start to produce this series of publications? Did you always imagine that they would be ecologically-minded?
Rebecca Mir Grady: My work is always revolving around nature in one way or another, and our interactions with it—so when I was first planning the series in 2011 to show at Chicago Zine Fest, I only had a vague idea of making something that referenced global warming. (I’d been making a lot of drawings of melting Arctic ice at the time). I was reading Susan Casey’s book The Wave, about giant waves and tsunamis, and their increasing occurrence, when the T?hoku earthquake shook Japan; then came the tsunami, and then the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It was difficult to think about anything else besides those events. So, the first two editions “fracture” and “waves” reference the earthquake and tsunami, respectively.
CP: What happens when you transform such large events into these palm-sized books?  So often conversations around the environment are huge, covering massive time scales, and physical scales, and scales of devastation. One of the things that I love about your series is that it feels exquisitely humble, and even like a good reminder of one’s place within massive events. 
RMG: I’ve always loved books, all kinds, and artist books and zines. So I think of the SHE IS RESTLESS series as a little bridge between some of the artist books I’ve made in the past and the more zine-like mini comics. One of the great things about zines is that they can be made quickly, cheaply, and efficiently. I self-publish them, so I was able to produce two quick volumes in a short amount of time in direct response to what was happening around the world. But the biggest drawback (for me) with zines is the lack of a spine—I collect zines all of the time, but they quickly disappear into a pile of zines and mini comics on my bookshelf. When I was in Italy, I bought a map of Venice that had a cardstock cover with a spine, which I thought was genius! A perfect format to merge the artist book and zine formats. Initially I planned to make some larger ones, but after considering the possibility, it seemed out of place for this project.
CP: Why?
RMG: The scale of devastation from the earthquake and tsunami was so huge. Looking at pictures and hearing coverage on the radio, it was still so hard to comprehend. I’d also been thinking a lot about scale while reading Casey’s book: How do you describe a hundred foot wave? What about a thousand foot wave? By translating those environmental catastrophes into a book—and a tiny book at that—the scale is exaggerated. Because the book is small, a reader has to get closer to it, to really peer into the subject matter. When people pick up the “waves” book, I say, “That is a really big wave.”  They open the book, and—by unfolding the map-like page—the wave tumbles out (this one was accordion folded), and seems to go on forever. Then it folds back up, fits in your pocket, and you can take it with you.
CP: How did the “Underwater Cities” publication occur to you? 
RMG: I’ve continued to make one or two editions each year in response to different global warming / climate events / natural disasters that have happened in the year. In that way, I imagine the “SHE” in “SHE IS RESTLESS” as the Earth. The Earth is restless. “Underwater Cities” was made after Hurricane Sandy swept through New York and New Jersey. I saw an image of a boardwalk rollercoaster underwater, and it reminded me of a kid’s sandcastle getting washed away by a wave. Humanity has built so much right on the water; I’m sure that sort of sandcastle effect is going to keep happening with more and more frequency.
CP: Is that the only edition with a distinctly human architecture?
RMG: The “Lost At Sea” edition also directly links to our human presence through its absence. We’re all so connected now, with GPS tracking and whatever else, that it seems impossible to disappear. That made it all the more shocking when Malaysian Airlines flight 370 went missing.
CP:  Connecting to that idea of absence, I also somehow love that for “Wildfire,” the trees define the negative space, and the rest of the skyline is consumed in red. What made you make that decision? 
RMG: I made a lot of drawings before I got to the final one for “Wildfire.” This one is definitely one of my favorites—I love the negative space. Visually, it made for a much stronger image than drawing the trees themselves burning, and conceptually it also worked—as some of the trees would be completely consumed by the fire.

View more of Rebecca Mir Grady’s SHE IS RESTLESS publications here.




Ox-Bow? Its like adult Hogwarts for artists.

June 25, 2013 · Print This Article

Christian Kuras and I have been busily preparing for a class we should have called “The Decent into Awesome.” A class that brings together Avital Ronell, Silkscreens, and Juggalos/Celine Dion, publishing as form, and the new sincerity manifesto, so wrong it can only be right. It is going to be magic. We will make, talk, collaborate, share, and be awesome. (We will definitely figure out whether awesome is really something we want to be and no prior printmaking experience is necessary!)

Our friends at Ox-Bow just let us know that their are still a couple of slots open in our class and we thought we should remind you of the life altering good times that can be had at Ox-Bow. I am going to be polite and not mention the dance parties or Eric May’s (and co’s) amazing cooking or the blazing good times that will be had around the fire every evening. I will just mention that there are still slots available in the following classes and that it is one of the greatest experiences to give your art life.

Towards a New Sincerity with Christian “North” Kuras and Duncan MacKenzie (7/14-7/27)

Lithography with Mark Pascale  (8/11-17)

Egg Tempera with Carl Baratta (7/14-20)
Portrait as Starting Point with Andrew Winship (7/4-10)

If this was is not enough maybe you should check out these images and maybe you should come?

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Episode 324: Anders Nilsen

November 15, 2011 · Print This Article

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This week: Richard and Duncan talk with Anders Nilsen.

Anders Nilsen was born in northern New Hampshire in 1973. He grew up splitting his time between the mountains of New England and the streets and parks of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was weaned on a steady diet of comics, stories and art, from Tintin and the X-Men to Raw, Weirdo, punk rock, zines, graffiti and regular trips to art museums.

Nilsen studied painting and installation art at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, also making comics and zines mostly outside class. In 1999 he started photocopying strips from his sketchbooks, self-publishing them as Big Questions #1 and #2. That same year he moved to Chicago to do graduate work at the School of the Art Institute. In 2000 he turned an artists book he’d done in undergrad into his first properly printed book, The Ballad of the Two Headed Boy, with a grant from the Xeric Foundation. The same year he took advantage of an offset lithography class at the Art Institute to print the third issue of Big Questions, with all original material. In 2000 he dropped out of graduate school to do comics on his own. He received grants from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs to publish the next three issues of Big Questions.

Anders’ comics have been translated into a number of languages. He has exhibited his drawing and painting internationally and had his work anthologized in Kramer’s Ergot, Mome, The Yale Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Best American Comics and Best American Non-Required Reading, as well as The Believer, the Chicago Reader and elsewhere. Other titles by Nilsen include Dogs And Water, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Monologues for the Coming Plague, Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes, and The End #1.

Nilsen keeps a blog at themonologuist.blogspot.com where he posts occasional new work, and a website with examples of past work and various illustration he’s done at andersbrekhusnilsen.com.

He currently lives with his cat in Chicago, Il.

Anders Nilsen also received Ignatz Nominations for Outstanding Artist for Big Questions #7 & #8, Outstanding Series (Big Questions), and Outstanding Comic (Big Questions #7) at the 2006 Small Press Expo. Dogs and Water won an Ignatz for Outstanding Story in 2005, and his graphic memoir Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow won an Ignatz for Outstanding Graphic Novel in 2007.




Zine Workshop at ThreeWalls this Saturday

March 6, 2009 · Print This Article

Hey, kids and other young-people types: what looks like a super-fun zine workshop will take place this Saturday afternoon at ThreeWalls with Anne Elizabeth Moore, based on the Cambodian zines featured in her current project Holle Cambodia. Moore’s website indicates it’s a youth program that’s free for kids; adults (who are welcome to participate, too) should be prepared to donate 5 bucks. More details, below. hollecambodia

Zine Workshop with Anne Elizabeth Moore at ThreeWalls

Join us on Saturday, March 7, 2009 from 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm for a zine workshop with writer, artist and activist Anne Elizabeth Moore. We’ll provide the supplies and refreshments.
“Staunch critic of consumerism and media activist Anne Elizabeth Moore has been writing, publishing, and interceding in culture since the age of 15. The indomitable author of Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity, founding editor of the Best American Comics series, and former editor of now-defunct Punk Planet has seen her work exhibited in major museums, praised by the business press, and forcibly ejected from retail establishments.
Recently, Moore went to Cambodia to teach the first generation of feminists in the country self publishing as a way of combating governmental oppression and self-censorship, and co-founded the Anti-Advertising Agency’s Foundation For Freedom, an organization that aims to limit advertising in the public sphere by offering cash incentives and giant novelty checks to ad pros in exchange for quitting their jobs. She currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and travels throughout the globe to lecture on corporate and governmental oppression and freedom of expression.”
A five dollar donation is suggested at the door.
www.three-walls.org/calendar/openings
www.anneelizabethmoore.com
camblogdia.blogspot.com

ThreeWalls
119 n. peoria #2d
Chicago, IL 60607
312.432.3972
info@three-walls.org