Snapshots, Striving, and Silver Linings is an exhibition of zines made by members of the Oshawa Youth Council (OYC). During a series of virtual workshops led by Toronto-based artist Kendra Yee, OYC members Kaleb Adams, Unaiza Aslam, Evan Brown, Sarah Coombs, Cole McKinnon, Ananya Mehta, Arpita Savaliya, and Athesayaa Vijeethass learned how to make zines and how this infinitely adaptable medium can be used to express ideas, tell stories, and explore creativity.
The act of building community through art is a core tenet of zine-making culture. As self-published works, zines are typically short-form publications that are cheap to reproduce on a standard photocopier. Because it is relatively easy to make and share both small and large quantities of zines, zine history is bursting with fan communities and artists who have made work and exchanged ideas outside of the mainstream using the medium. The close ties between zines and other print-based arts, including comic books, mail art, and social and political ephemera, have a lot to do with the ways these art forms allow people to connect and organize around shared interests, experiences, and perspectives. While enthusiasm for physical DIY zines has never faded, it’s no surprise that the internet allowed the art form to expand into digital spaces, both as sites for publishing and for connecting artists across the globe.
In this virtual exhibition, you’ll see some common approaches to traditional paper-based zine-making, including original drawings, found images, collage, and text. In addition to providing a platform for members of the OYC to share their stories, the zine-making workshops gave them an opportunity to build community. Through the experience, they got to know each other better, build a stronger sense of belonging, and appreciate the value of their own voice through creative expression. By sharing their zines, the participants hope to inspire other youth to get involved with the community and envision their goals for a better tomorrow.
ABOUT THE ZINES
Like the artists, poets, activists, and fans who have created zines for decades, the works in this exhibition were inspired by ideas and issues that are important to members of the OYC at this moment in time. In their zines, Kaleb and Unaiza both look back on the year that was, reflecting on events that had personal or social significance in 2020. The pandemic, forest fires, and anti-Black racism protests are among the impactful moments included in their zines.
Sarah also found inspiration in the pandemic, especially the effect it’s having on mental health. Her self-care zine highlights the importance of routines and reaching out to friends in difficult times. The benefits of a positive outlook are revealed in Evan’s zine about looking on the bright side, a theme he derived from a metallic Sharpie that made him think of silver linings. Optimism and hope are also central to Athesayaa’s zine about her ambitions and future. Through vibrant illustrations she encourages readers to find their own meaningful paths to success.
Along with some friends, Ananya and Arpita are currently pursuing a dream to create their own business; both OYC members created zines that focus on this recent accomplishment. Simply Lotus is an environmentally conscious collective. They recycle discarded clothing into shoulder bags and strive to educate their peers about textile waste and fast fashion. The zines are records of Ananya and Arpita’s business journey. Similarly, Cole’s zine is a personal document from this moment in time. His life-in-lists zine features his favourite things, including foods, sports, and movies and it serves as snapshot or self-portrait of Cole in 2021.
Blackout Poems by the Oshawa Youth Council is a collaborative zine that was made by the all of the participants during the zine-making workshops. Typically, writers of blackout poetry use a marker to redact or “black out” sections of an existing text. Their poem is formed by the words left on the page. This zine was made on Google Slides, using the highlighter tool as a marker and excerpts from three online news articles as source material.
In Oshawa, youth aged 10-19 make up roughly 11% of the population. The Oshawa Youth Council was formed to make sure those voices are heard at the municipal level. Members of the Youth Council advocate for their peers and work to make Oshawa a place where youth can thrive. As participants in the social and cultural landscape of the city, they participate and volunteer in community events and help create recreational opportunities for youth.
If you’re interested in becoming involved with the Oshawa Youth Council and you are between the ages of 13-18 (or grades 7-12), checkout the City of Oshawa website: https://www.oshawa.ca/things-to-do/youth-council.asp.