The Fine Art of Radical Self-Publishing
Curated by Suzy González
The Fine Art of Radical Self-Publishing highlights the work of contemporary BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists who focus on political self- publishing with topics including decolonization, queerness, family separation, mental health, colorism, environmental justice, and diasporic experiences. Exhibited alongside the zines are additional elements of a zinester’s practice like stickers, buttons, and prints, as well as glimpses into the creative process such as cut-and-paste collage. These elements provide insight into the artistic dedication that it takes to be a zinester and affirm that zines are a contemporary art medium, yet so much more.
(Read the full curatorial statement here below)
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Long before the often zine-associated scene of the 1990s Riot Girls, were the vital publications of creators of color who printed and distributed as resistance. Arguably, ancient Mesoamerican codices documenting spiritual practices and ways of life can be conceived as some of the first zines. In the 1830s, the American Anti- Slavery Society printed pamphlets writing about the horrors of slavery and demanding its downfall.1 José Guadalupe Posada created accessible periodicals from 1852-1913 with satirical responses to abuses of government and the exploitation of Mexican people.2 In 1969, UCLA students of the Third World Liberation Front published the first issue of Gidra, reporting on accounts of racism within the Asian-American immigrant experience.3 The late 60s and early 70s held the rise of the Black Panther Party newspaper which informed and organized the people around issues of freedom, education, housing, and police brutality.4 This legacy lives on as contemporary artists use zines to make sense of identity, share experience-gained knowledge, and voice their perspectives on social justice topics. Zines offer outlets for expression free from the Capitalist consumerism of the elite art market; self-publishing economies tend to fuel themselves, as can be seen at zine fest with mutual support and trading creative goods. Self-publishing itself is an empowering act as one only needs their own approval in order to put printed matter into the world. There are no rules, which lends itself greatly to creating work about concepts that are seen as “radical.”
In 2020, lines between visual arts and craft media become more and more blurred as the class, gender, and racial hierarchies of these binaristic art worlds are brought to light. Zines are now being institutionally accepted into classrooms and museums, but more than art objects, they are also tools for revolution. Often using a DIY/punk/rasquache aesthetic, contemporary BIPOC zinesters use their zines to educate, provide a platform, spread love, and to document political eras.
Koreangry is a series of zines created by Eunsoo Jeong. With an unapologetic humor, Koreangry provides education and awareness on topics of immigration, gender, artist life, and the Korean-American experience. A majority of the publication’s images are photos of immensely detailed miniature character sculptures and artifacts of the environment, often including tiny found objects. These sculptures hold DIY aesthetics, then meld with graphic design in print, establishing new ways of thinking about art objects and publications. The artistry behind Jeong’s extensive process can be seen in the exhibit’s Miniature Prop Display. Her work is a definitive example of the ties that bind visual art and self-published works.
Red Rising Magazine is a platform that provides space for Indigenous stories and experiences by artists, thinkers, writers, and leaders. Issue 3: Land and Water is centered around protecting the earth and reclaiming relationships with the land. Issue 7: Two-Spirit emphasizes the need to decolonize values based on gender and sexuality, recognize histories of violence, and to acknowledge the beauty and resistance of two-spirited individuals. Se’mana Thompson’s collage work depicts images of Black Indigenous peoples and the disproportionate level of incarceration that effects their livelihood, beginning in the school systems. For them, making zines is a practice of survival and healing. Thompson edits Queer Indigenous Girl, a zine by and for queer & trans disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color. Decolonizing Parenting: Issue 2 speaks of parenting autistic children as a queer autistic parent of color, while Issue 3 expresses thoughts on disabled Black Indigenous youth in the school system during COVID-19. Providing intergenerational collaboration, Thompson’s Black Indigenous Boy zines are created by her sons who write about health, culture, and sci- fi. Both Red Rising Magazine and the zines of Se’mana Thompson resist settler colonialist society by spreading knowledge of injustices and working towards intercultural growth within Indigenous communities.
La Liga Zine is a publishing collective that challenges Latinidad and disrupts white supremacy with works like En Mi Piel: On Colorism & Latinidad. While antiblackness is prevalent is Latinx communities, this zine centers dark-skinned contributors as a necessity for the growth and healing of Latinidad. La Yerbera, printed in both English and Spanish, gives power to familial plant medicine knowledge, sharing stories and remedios that cleanse the body and spirit. Silk Club ATX is a collective that produces the bi-annual zine, QUIET! featuring feminist writing and art about Asian and Asian-American femme and queer experiences. Working to confront stereotypes of quiet and introverted expectations, the zine finds complexities in identity with moments of both embracing and unlearning this prescribed identity. QUIET! provides a creative outlet for experiences of diaspora and existing between multiple cultures. When people of color come together to form collectives, that in itself is an act of resistance. Collectives offer the removal of the artist’s ego, new dialogues and perspectives, and community learning and growth. La Liga Zine and Silk Club ATX are both dedicated to examining and undoing what has been historically enforced upon their communities.
Within political criticality, there must exist hope and love to maintain balance. Naomi Moyer is a self-taught artist and author whose personal interest in the African diaspora has led her to write such zines as Black Women & Self Defense. This zine reflects on navigating the world as a Black woman in hopes of achieving safety and peace in public spaces. Further, her publication Black Women and Self Care focuses on mental health and its ties to oppressive experiences–but the goal is always to find healing in the struggle. Lawrence Lindell’s heartfelt zines such as From Black Boy With Love is made up of uplifting love notes to Black and Brown femmes. His comic, Couldn’t Afford Therapy So I Made This contains personal experiences on Blackness and mental health. Moyer and Lindell’s zines remind us that self-publishing can also be a place to cope, and for BIPOC folks to find space to relate to one another on mental health issues, which are too often stigmatized in communities of color. If we believe that Black Lives Matter, we must also proactively center the safety, mental health, and joy of Black people.
Daisy Salinas’ creative zine practice overlaps with her love of punk and her passion as a musician and music fest curator. Salinas’ publication, Muchacha Fanzine, embodies Native Xicana feminism with themes of decolonization, madre tierra, and body positivity. The most recent issue, Liberation Youth, is made up of contributions by activist youth of color. Using traditional cut-and-paste collage, images of protest come together amongst contributor works in compositions that highlight the need for POC solidarity. Brenda Montaño of Zines with Sol gives us insight into her zine-making process with the Original Zine of 2U 4RM ME: A Love Letter Anthology. Using a mix of paper, marker, and pens, her original collages are used to create editions of her zines for distribution. From zines on Xicanas in punk to family separation to motherhood, Zines with Sol is grounded in community care. In addition to her birth work, Brenda even offers zine-creating consultations as The Zine Doula. Muchacha Fanzine and Zines with Sol both illustrate how active Xicanas are in the decolonial punk scenes of today, and how that aesthetic is brought into both their zine work and their lifestyles.
As historical and contemporary self-publishers overlap, we see regional BIPOC communities come together in spaces both physical and in the digital realm, to form a larger zine community existing in a web of intersectional, intercultural, and intergenerational support. We must all be accomplices for one another, in art and in society. As we look back to the legacies of resistance that brought us to the present day, radical self-publishers are doing their part to make space for future creators. The art of zine-making is not one that requires white-supremacist institutional approval– rather these creators are self-motivated to spread their messages out of necessity to use their voice in a world that silences. With ties between cultures and creative processes, zines are truly a way to bring people and ideas together, to relate to one another, and to unearth radical voices.
1 Internet Archive Search: “American Anti-Slavery Society”,
2 Ruthie. “José Guadalupe Posada.” Seattle Artist League, 12 June 2020, seattleartistleague.com/2020/06/12/jose-guadalupe-posada/.
3 Lee, Jaeah J. The Forgotten Zine of 1960s Asian-American Radicals. Topic, Feb. 2018, www.topic.com/the-forgotten-zine-of-1960s-asian-american-radicals.
4 Baggins, Brian. “The Black Panther Newspaper.” Black Panther Party Newspaper,
Suzy González is an artist, curator, zinester, educator, and community organizer based in San Antonio, TX. Giving attention to the origins of both food and art materials, she analyzes what it means to decolonize art and art history. She has had solo exhibits at Presa House Gallery, Hello Studio, Palo Alto College, and a recent two-person exhibit with Eliseo Casiano at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. She has attended residencies at Vermont Studio Center (VT), the Trelex Residency (Peru), The Wassaic Residency (NY), Starry Night Residency (NM), the Studios at MASS MoCA (MA), and Hello Studio (TX). Suzy co-publishes Yes, Ma’am zine, co-organizes the San Anto Zine Fest, and is half of the collective Dos Mestizx. She received a 2017 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Fund for the Arts Grant, is a 2018 alum of the NALAC Leadership Institute, and a 2019 alum of the Intercultural Leadership Institute and NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. Suzy holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from Texas State University.