Our Comics, Ourselves: Identity, Expression, and Representation in Comic Art

August 21 – October 6, 2017

About the Exhibition
Events, Lectures, and Workshops
Sponsors and Contributors

About “Our Comics, Ourselves”

Curated by Jan Descartes and Monica McKelvey Johnson, “Our Comics, Ourselves” includes comic books, graphic novels, DIY comics, and various comics paraphernalia primarily from the United States, from 1945 to present. The works range from autobiographical to sheer fantasy, and explore feminism, abortion, racism, cultural identity, social activism, labor unions, veterans of war, sexual abuse, student debt, immigration, public health, civil rights, gender and sexual identity, and more. “Our Comics, Ourselves” presents the graphic stories that describe the complexity and diversity of our collective experience, and examines the social and historical contexts within which they emerged.

“Our Comics, Ourselves” is an independent traveling exhibition that originated at  Interference Archive (Brooklyn, NY) in 2016, and is supported by faculty partners and departments across George Mason University.

Related Events, Lectures, and Workshops

Visual Voices: Simon Schwartz
Thursday, August 31, 7:30pm
Harris Theater, George Mason University
Visual Voices: Mason School of Art

Our Comics, Ourselves: Craft, Process, and Community with Jim Rugg
Thursday, September 14, 2:00pm
Fenwick Library Room 4010 (4th floor)

Letter Writing Support for LGBTQ Prisoners Workshop
Friday, September 15, 1:30pm
Special Collections Research Center (2400 Fenwick Library, 2nd floor)
Jan Descartes leads a workshop and letter-writing session for incarcerated persons, in partnership with Black and Pink.

Minicomics Workshop with Jan Descartes and Monica Johnson
Friday, September 15, 3:30-4:30pm
Art & Design Building, Print Shop (Room 1009) – Directions / Map
In this workshop, we will learn about why comics is a uniquely powerful medium, and how to create a 8 page mini-comic.  We will learn about creating a character, a narrative, drawing and inking our comics.  This class is for beginners and experienced drawers alike – no experience with comics is necessary, only excitement to tell your story!  The goal is to leave with a mini-comic, drawn on letter sized paper, that will be ready for you to Xerox and distribute!

Our Comics, Ourselves: Curator’s Talk, Opening Reception, and Print Shop Jam
Friday, September 15, 6pm
Fenwick Library Reading Room / Art & Design Building (Room 1009, Print Shop)
Join us for an open discussion with Jan Descartes and Monica McKelvey Johnson, curators of Our Comics, Ourselves. Event to be followed by a reception and print shop jam at the Mason School of Art. Make a comic, print a t-shirt, or stay for conversation and snacks!
Reception sponsored in part by Giant Foods (University Mall, Braddock Road) and Safeway (Twinbrook Shopping Center, Braddock Road)

Small Press Expo
September 16-17
Marriott North Bethesda Hotel & Conference Center

Our Comics, Ourselves: Comics for Breakfast with Ed Luce
Monday, September 18, 10:00am
Fenwick Library Reading Room
Coffee and donuts sponsored in part by Dunkin Donuts, University Mall (Braddock Road)

D.I.Y. Comics Workshop with INTO Mason
Wednesday, September 20, 8:30am
Mason Global Center Room 1316A (Small Ballroom)

Our Comics, Ourselves: Art World/Comic World with Edie Fake
Thursday, September 21, 2:00pm
Fenwick Library Reading Room
Co-sponsored with Mason LGBTQ Resources Group

Our Comics, Ourselves: D.I.Y. Comics & Zines Workshop
Thursday, September 28, 2-4pm
Gateway Library, Johnson Center

Fantom Comics: Local Authors Reading
Saturday, September 30, 7:00pm
Fantom Comics, 2010 P Street NW, Washington D.C.

Our Comics, Ourselves: Spike Trotman and Ariell Johnson in Conversation
Tuesday, October 3, 6:00pm
The HUB Ballroom (Front), George Mason University
Co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME)

Comics Book Club: Reading and Discussion
Wednesday, September 20, 7:00pm: Not Funny Ha-Ha, led by Brianna Burke
Thursday, September 28 RESCHEDULED: Thursday, October 5, 5:00pm: American Born Chinese, led by Ayesha Gill
Thursday, October 5, 10:30am: On Loving Women, with LGBTQ Resources
Fenwick Library Room 1009

Fall for the Book
October 11-14
George Mason University

Sponsors and Contributors

“Our Comics, Ourselves” is generously supported by the George Mason University Department of Women & Gender Studies, the Department of History and Art History, the African and African American Studies Program, the School of Art, the Department of English, the Film and Video Studies Program, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution; the Honors College, INTO Mason, the University Curator, University Libraries, and University Life.

A special thank you for support and contributions:
Grey Cohen, Edie Fake, Stephanie Grimm, Christopher Kardambikis, Angela Hattery, Mika’il Petin, Josh MacPhee, Interference Archive, and all the guest curators on our Tumblr at ourcomicsourselves.tumblr.com, and contributors to the Our Comics, Ourselves catalog.

Programming and arrangements for this exhibition at Mason were organized by Stephanie Grimm, Art and Art History Librarian; Christopher Kardambikis, Assistant Professor of Printmaking; Angela Hattery, Professor and Director, Women & Gender Studies at Mason; and Mika’il Petin, Professor, African and African American Studies.

Printing services generously sponsored by Canon. Additional support for refreshments provided by Giant Foods (Braddock Road, Fairfax), Safeway (Twinbrook Shopping Center, Braddock Road, Fairfax) and Dunkin Donuts (University Mall, Braddock Road, Fairfax).

This exhibition is made possible in part with support from Interference Archive, an all-volunteer organization in Brooklyn. The mission of Interference Archive is to explore the relationship between cultural production and social movements. This work manifests in an open stacks archival collection, publications, a study center, and public programs including as exhibitions, workshops, talks, and screenings, all of which encourage critical and creative engagement with the rich history of social movements.

For more information go to http://interferencearchive.org/our-comics-ourselves/.