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Express yourself in cut’n’paste: zine creator, organizer talks to the Terrarium

July 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Education and youth studies major Patricia Weber’14, below, remembers what it was like to be a teenager, feeling confused and wanting a place to talk. It’s one of the reasons she decided to share her passion for making zines—self-published booklets of art and writing—with teenagers during next week’s Zine Summer Camp, a creative and instructional workshop.

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Five people have already signed up (the workshop, running next week, is open to teenagers of all ages) and Weber estimates she has space for 10 more participants. To RSVP for the hands-on workshop, which will be capped off with a release party to celebrate participants’ completed zines, email Weber at weberp@beloit.edu. She will also be offering additional workshops in the fall.

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Below, Weber talks with the Terrarium about how she got her start in zines, and the power of self-expression in a safe space.

Terrarium: How did you get interested in zines?

Weber: I got into zines my sophomore year of college. I was visiting my sister, Carolyn, in Milwaukee, and she lives above Milo Miller and Christopher Wilde, who have the Queer Zine Archive Project (www.qzap.org) stationed in their apartment. I became friends with them, and they knew that I was into queer activism, so they gave me some zines to read. I fell in love with the cut’n’paste style and the non-professional artists and writers making these, and liked how I could relate to some of the personal stories.

QZAP had internships, so I applied and did an internship during winter break my sophomore year. I made my first zines, and got into queer music and the alternate queer culture that I haven’t experience in my hometown or Beloit. That spring semester I had Sonja Darlington’s Education Research Methods Class, and when we had to choose a topic for our senior capstone project, I saw a potential for zines to be used in classrooms. I decided on doing my project on queer zines as educational tools for gender and sexuality.

In my junior year, I went abroad to Amsterdam on SIT’s International Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality program. I continued my zine project there by focusing on queer zines as educational tools for gender and sexuality in Amsterdam’s queer squatter community. I wrote a 20-page paper, and made a 32-page zine alongside it.

Since then, I have been presenting at conferences about my research, networking for QZAP and continuing to intern for them, and this summer for my second McNair research summer, I am organizing and promoting the zine collection at Beloit College, and doing the Zine Summer Camp. My project has also changed to a more broader focus on zines as educational tools, and I plan to write up a zine curriculum and make zines with my research paper. I intend to use my research on queer zines as an example of a subject and what tools zines have to teach.

T: What made you decide to offer this workshop?

W: I decided to offer the zine workshops because I wanted to introduce zines to the Beloit community, to show how people can use zines to teach others how to express themselves, and to have people learn about another source of information. The idea for a “summer camp” came from a group meeting with a few of my other peers in an education class. This allows me to teach different aspects of zines (history, how to read/write a zine, construction, etc.), and to allow the students to make their own zines. The last day is going to be a “release party” with pizza, and I will be inviting faculty, staff, their parents, and some of my friends to enjoy their zines and to learn about zines in a different way.

T: Why is this kind of creative outlet important, especially for teenagers?

W: Zines are an important creative outlet because they are a safe space to express your ideas, to talk about your life, and whatever else might be on your mind. You do not need to be a good artist or writer to make one. You do not have to put down your real name in the zine, and you do not have to put down any contact information.

I think anyone could benefit from this creative freedom, but I wanted to focus on teenagers because I remember myself at that age. I was confused, and questioning a lot about life issues, and I wish I had a place to talk about outside of my peer group/family/the Internet. Sure there are online journals that you can keep private, but I still wanted to share my thoughts with someone while connecting with another person on the same issues, instead of hiding behind a fake name and never really getting to know someone beyond a comment on my blog.

Want to learn more?

Beloit College Zine Collection is having a display in the library from now until July 26th. There are supplies on the craft table to make your own zine. The collection is on the second floor of the Morse Library, in the back of the magazine area.

Contact beloitcollegezinecollection@gmail.com for questions/suggestions/donations/volunteer opportunities.

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