In the incessant world of scrolling, liking and screenshots it's easy to fall down the click hole. Sometimes, it's necessary to turn off, tune in, and thumb through a carefully orchestrated musing that you can hold in your hand. That's why Bree Gerard, of Rad Grrls Club art collective, loves zines.
"I'm really just interested in them as a concept because they give me something ... that's special outside of just having the internet; which kind of takes the specialness out of everything," laughs Gerard. "You might find something cool on the internet and be really into it, but maybe even just looking at a screen makes your head hurt or just having it all out there lumped together gets overwhelming. The tone of zines is just so natural and fluid, and it feels so much more real than other mass media outlets."
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These self-published works of text and images have been around for centuries. With this in mind, the Indiana Historical Society has invited Gerard and fellow zine enthusiast Erin K. Drew (General Public Collective) to lead a Women's History Month zine workshop called Cut/Paste to examine the rich history. Part of the program is a zine-making workshop, allowing them to have a hands-on experience with the historical form.
"Instead of just celebrating the past or talking about the past, I wanted to find a way that we could do a program where the people who would come to the program could make history relevant to their own lives. I felt like zines were a really cool way for participants to record their own stories." says event organizer and Indiana Historical Society intern, Jenny Holly.
Drew's fascination with zines became an extension of her artwork years ago. "I think before I had any idea about what the content of zines should be or could be, I felt excited about the idea that you could make your own magazines I connected with that idea pretty quickly," says Drew. This led her to try her hand at making her own. Recently, she published a drawing zine entitled Ha Ha Ha
"I just made a series of drawings," says Drew. "It seemed like I could show them on a wall, but it was more appealing to me to put all of these specific drawings into one tactile thing that I could hand to people."
For Drew and Gerard, the connecting lines between zines seems to be genuineness. "[Zine creators] are just trying to access those parts of themselves that they don't feel are represented in mass culture or mass media," says Gerard.
Drew echoes this opinion. "You might feel like an isolated weirdo but there's plenty of evidence that there are other isolated weirdos in Indiana or beyond—people that were thinking about similar things before you."
With their workshop, Drew and Gerard are hoping to spread their love for zines to others by giving them some background history and a firsthand experience in constructing their own publications.
In particular, Gerard plans to talk about the Riot Grrrl movement, highlighting how zines are used as a means of expression.
"I'll have some creative prompts so people can just get busy and start creating," says Gerard. "One of the other things that's cool is Jenny asked the Historical Society if we could use images from their archives. So I've been able to start looking through their digital archives, and she's just going to print them out so people can use them to make zines."
In planning the event, the Indiana Historical Society especially wanted to focus on a topic that was historical but relatable.
"When it came to planning a Women's History Month program, we were looking for a topic that could really bridge the gap between 'then and now' while providing an edgy yet educational experience for participants," says Breiana Cecil-Satchwell, director of education and community engagement at Indiana Historical Society. Ultimately, Gerard is hoping to give attendees a taste of the empowering experience that is zine-making too.
"It might feel like everything has been said or done, but if you say things your way it'll be unique no matter what," says Gerard. "When you say things your way, other people will relate, and you might be able to reach people who didn't even know they needed to be reached."