Hardly Art, Hardly Garbage

by Libby Zay

 Do your favorite art forms get downgraded to ”craft”?  From sewing to horror flicks, many of our beloved pursuits are condemned by the masses as passe or campy.  Comics are no exception to this rule of kitsch; often mixed with romance novels and Ring Pops in the grocery store checkout lane–a catchall for our culture’s most ”tacky” items–only the daring pore over their contents in the public eye.

An exhibit in Columbus, Ohio titled ”This Is A Comic Book” has set its sight on challenging many of our assumptions about comics.  High art or low art debate aside, comic books do not have a place in an art gallery.  No, really: how the heck are you supposed to hang a book?  If you try to, what is a comic book without the ability to lovingly thumb through its pages?  And if you tear them out, won’t the pages get lost in the starkly white gallery wall?  ”This Is A Comic Book” forces viewers to study the medium through an unfamiliar method, requiring close scrutiny of the illustrations and writing out of their original context.

Ladies aren’t left out of the show, either.  Contemporary women artists include Lauren Weinstein, Lee Mei Yan (who did the above artwork), Dorothy Gambrell, and Mickey Zacchilli. Members of Closed Caption Comics , a collective that puts on riot grrrl shows in Baltimore, have work in the show, too.  An accompanying zine features the writing of Anne Elizabeth Moore, former editor of the Best American Comics series as well as the late, great Punk Planet.

The exhibit, at the female-run Mahan Gallery, runs through August 22nd.  If you can’t make it, the zine is for sale at the Mahan Gallery Website and Wexner Center Store.

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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