|KOFFLER GALLERY OFF-SITE PRESENTS
Confessional Comics by Jewish Women
Vanessa Davis, Bernice Eisenstein, Sarah Glidden, Miriam Katin, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Miss Lasko-Gross, Sarah Lazarovic, Miriam Libicki, Sarah Lightman, Diane Noomin, Corinne Pearlman, Trina Robbins, Racheli Rotner, Sharon Rudahl, Laurie Sandell, Ariel Schrag, Lauren Weinstein, Ilana Zeffren
February 17 to April 17, 2011 | OPEN 12 – 5 PM daily
Koffler Gallery Off-Site at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W
Originated by Michael Kaminer and Sarah Lightman
OPENING WEEKEND EVENTS | ALL FREE & ALL AT THE GLADSTONE
Thursday, February 17, 7:30 – 10 PM | Opening Reception with artists in attendance; curators' talk at 8 PM
Sunday, February 20 | Noon – 4 PM | FREE tours with the guest curators and a hands-on comic workshop for teens.
Click here for more info and for all Graphic Details related programming
Graphic Details is a groundbreaking touring exhibition, providing the first in-depth look at a unique and prolific niche of graphic storytelling – Jewish women’s autobiographical comics. While the influential role of Jews in cartooning has long been acknowledged, the role of Jewish women in shaping the medium is largely unexplored. This exhibition of original drawings, full comic books and graphic novels, presents the powerful work of eighteen Canadian and international artists whose intimate, confessional work has influenced the world of comics over the last four decades, creating an entirely new genre.
Spotlighting the raw, revealing voices of Jewish women and their singular presence in graphic storytelling, the exhibition illuminates the intersection of experiences that make these diaristic comics so compelling. By turns funny, outrageous, poignant and embarrassingly intimate, the works in Graphic Details reflect the artists’ individual journeys, refracted through a distinctively Jewish lens in a pop-culture art form. Some bare their bodies. Some expose their psyches. All are fearless about sex, romance, politics, body functions, experiences, emotions, and desires.
Many of the original artworks on display have never been exhibited in public until now. Artists run the gamut from pioneering Wimmen’s Comix and Twisted Sisters artists of the 1970s and 1980s to the superstars of the new generation. Graphic Details is co-curated by Michael Kaminer, a New York journalist and collector whose December 2008 story on confessional comics in the Forward, the leading independent Jewish weekly newspaper, provided the impetus for the show. His collaborator, Sarah Lightman, is an award-winning artist, curator and arts journalist based in London who is researching a PhD at The University of Glasgow on Autobiography in Comics.
From the Forward story: “While women have been writing frank confessional cartoons since the early 1970s, the context has changed. Brutal sexism defined underground comics back then, with females mostly depicted as fawning objects for a largely male readership. Blunt confessional comics were a throat-grab from women who dared male readers to confront real, unvarnished female characters. Today’s autobiographical comics come as less of a cultural jolt. For one thing, women have become a formidable presence in comics. Personal problems have also supplanted gender politics as a dominant theme. But these young artists are just as ruthlessly honest, presenting their bodies as nakedly as their emotions. They’re also finding a new crop of audiences, weaned on blogs and tell-all Facebook pages, even hungrier for first-person intimacy.”
Media sponsor the Forward is publishing the exhibition catalogue as an eight-page newspaper broadsheet. The catalogue includes essays by comics experts Federica Clementi, Paul Buhle, Ranen Omer-Sherman, Sarah Jaffe, Ariel Kahn and artist Trina Robbins.
The Koffler Gallery is the only Canadian venue for Graphic Details as part of a North American tour starting at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco in October 2010, and continuing to the Yeshiva University Museum, New York in January 2012, and the Jean Paul Slusser Gallery of the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design, Ann Arbor in September 2012.
Click here to visit the Graphic Details blog.
Exhibition Media Sponsor, The Jewish Daily Forward.
Presented together with the Gladstone Hotel.
Koffler Gallery is generously supported by:
GRAPHIC DETAILS: CONFESSIONAL COMICS BY JEWISH WOMEN
Vanessa Davis (USA) began cartooning without formal training. Fearless and very funny, her early black-and-white work laid naked her fantasies, insecurities -- and her body. More recently, as a regular contributor to Tablet, Davis mixes present-day accounts of herself, friends and family with memories of growing up suburban and Jewish. An Ignatz Award nominee for Spaniel Rage, her first book, the Santa Rosa-based artist is completing a sequel to be published by Drawn & Quarterly. www.spanielrage.com
Bernice Eisenstein (Canada) combined written autobiography and precisely observed comics to create the award-winning 2007 graphic memoir I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (Riverhead). Through her eyes, the book captures the singular, insular, Yiddish-shrouded world of Holocaust survivors and their offspring. She has enjoyed a distinguished career as an illustrator in Toronto.
Sarah Glidden (USA) began her 2007 minicomic How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less as a self-published ‘zine inspired by a Birthright trip to Israel. Her clean, simple lines belie a rare depth surrounding personal and political issues. After rave reviews, an expanded How to Understand... is due to be published by DC imprint Vertigo in 2010. www.smallnoises.com
Miriam Katin, (USA) created the much-honored We Are On Our Own, a Holocaust autobiography. Using both careful and loose pencil work, Katin keeps her very personal story emotively intimate; her published works retain the soft marks and qualities of her originals. An exception among the “Graphic Details” artists, Katin came to comics later in life with the publication of her debut graphic novel in 2006. With this in mind, Katin’s work around her time in the Israel Defence Force will make an intriguing counterpoint to Miriam Libicki's more recent experiences.
Miss Lasko-Gross, (USA) has earned a huge following and wide critical acclaim for her stark diaristic comics A Mess of Everything, and Escape from ‘Special’ (Fantagraphics). Mixing stark realism with highly stylized memories and acerbic humor, Gross’ work exposes her insecurities and outsiderness as a child and teen. She lives in New York. www.misslaskogross.com
Sarah Lazarovic (Canada) is one of the few comics artists who use a diaristic format to create editorial cartoons. While commenting on issues of the day for Canada’s National Post, the Toronto Star, and the Ottawa Citizen, she also provides a glimpse of her life with husband Ben Errett. With both of them as characters, their debates often form the core of Lazarovic’s pointed observations. For her first book-length project, She’s now working on a book-length autobiographical comic about growing up in Boca Raton, FL. www.sarahl.com
Miriam Libicki, (Canada) uses a sensuous drawing style to illustrate harsh truths; jobnik!, which she has been writing and self-publishing since 2003, examines sexual, religious, and personal politics as it recounts her experiences in the Israeli army. The series has received exceptional critical notices. Libicki works as an illustrator in Vancouver. www.realgonegirl.com
Sarah Lightman (UK) makes art about her unsuccessful love life and strained friendships. In her Reciprocitea series, a cup of coffee and biscuits with a friend emphasizes their distance instead of bringing them closer; an intricately drawn tablecloth, with its square-by-square pattern, is reminiscent of a chess board, with all the considered moves of an awkward and self aware engagement. www.sarahlightman.com
Diane Noomin (USA) is a pioneer in women’s comics. She helped launch Wimmen’s Comix in the 1970s and Twisted Sisters in the 1980s. With her iconic Didi Glitz character as a psychedelic suburban alter ego, Noomin has also published sharply observed, moving, and acidly funny diaristic comics about subjects from growing up in Brooklyn to miscarrying a baby.
Corinne Pearlman (UK) has specially produced a comic about the exhibition, and as she realised that there were a number of artists confessing like she did, and she grows anxious about her claims of originality. As she draws through her own reasons for working in this form, she examines the approaches of other artists and asks why Jews find confession so appealing.
Racheli Rottner (Israel), wrote the autobiographical The Other Side of the World (Babel). With a plethora of visual jokes, Rottner’s cleverly drawn work reminds the viewer of all the opportunities comics have to play with both word and image. As she switches perspective and viewpoint, the back of her head might become a bug in one panel; in another, she might find herself terrified as she battles a monster rendered in childlike style. Rottner’s black-and-white autobiography combines memories and fantasy, dark wit and surreal humour.
Sharon Rudahl, (USA), whose work first appeared in the 1970s, is a groundbreaking artist, ahead of her time both socially and within the world of comics. Her sequences Two Timer and Star Sapphire are beautifully drawn, humorous, and uncomfortable. In the former, she eventually confronts two members of her women’s comics group who - unbeknowst to each other - are seeing and gushing about the same man. In the latter, the loss of a wedding ring’s star sapphire is Rudahl’s catalyst for a look back at her own navigation of sexual mores.
Laurie Sandell (USA) turned a quest for truth about her father into The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir (Little Brown & Co.) in 2009. The first-time cartoonist’s straightforward, honest style matches the book’s frank tone and sense of self-discovery. Both her insight and humor are ruthless. Sandell is a contributing editor at Glamour, and has written for Esquire, GQ, New York, and InStyle. www.lauriesandell.com
Ariel Schrag (USA) is an Eisner Award winner for the watershed autobiographical graphic novels Awkward, Definition, Potential, and Likewise (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster), which chronicle her four years at Berkeley (CA) High School. The series is in development as a feature film. With humor and honesty, the books share the travails of growing up and coming out, along with the pain of divorce, the breakdown of relationships, and adolescent crushes. Schrag knowledge of complex graphic narrative is masterful; she switches between a comic style for day-to-day encounters and a more sophisticated realistic style for dream sequences. www.arielschrag.com
Lauren Weinstein, (USA) draws herself as a wide-eyed, wild-haired child and teen in her hilarious, self-savaging comics about growing up suburban. Her first solo comic, the Xeric Foundation award-winning Inside Vineyland, was published in 2003. Girl Stories (Henry Holt), her hilarious second collection, appeared in 2006. Weinstein published the genre-smashing Goddess of War in 2008. www.laurenweinstein.com
Ilana Zeffren’s (Israel) is the author of Sipur Varod- Pink Story, an autobiographical history of gay culture in Israel. Ilana also writes a weekly comics column -- Rishumon, or “sketches” --that portrays life with her girlfriend and two ‘talking’ cats. With her clever use of design, Zeffren works through topics that are absurd and personal, but somehow universal, like explaining to the cats that they are eating from her late grandparents’ crockery. www.flickr.com/photos/ilanazeffren