Sunday, October 9, 2011

In Print: "New Maps" - Interdisciplinary Studies

As with the recent "The Importance of Seeing Double," "New Maps" was created for the Association of Integrative Studies' newsletter for their October edition. They should be seen as companion pieces, and likely I'll find a way to integrate(!) them into a single piece as part of my dissertation.  Wanna know more about the study of interdisciplinary studies? Check out the AIS website here. Good group. - Nick 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In print: The Importance of Seeing Double

This piece was created for the Association of Integrative Studies' newsletter Integrative Pathways March 2011 edition. It's also being reprinted in a textbook on integrative studies due out soon. I've got a related piece in the forthcoming edition of AIS's newsletter this fall. I'll post it after it appears in print. Interested in interdisciplinary studies? Check out the AIS website here. Good group. - Nick 

Friday, April 22, 2011

On View: Seeing Red Feeling Blue

Thanks to an invite from Gan Golan (co-creator of Good Night Bush), my piece about the ridiculousness of red states and blue states made during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election is now on view as part of the Po Boy Art Gallery's "The Comic Show/People's Art of Portland" in Portland, Oregon. (Info here: I haven't made it out, but if you're in the area before May 14, 2011 - check it out, sounds like a good show.

Creating "Seeing Red/Feeling Blue" was the impetus to launching this site and I'm pleased to have it out in the world again. - Nick

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hold Close (Tsunami Essay)

In the midst of the initial batch of headlines coming out of Japan, I found myself viscerally compelled to respond in some way. Perhaps on the second or third night after the tsunami hit, I had jotted down some notes about an initial idea for this piece, before going to sleep. I couldn't sleep, and got up to put sketches down - that ultimately are pretty much what I ended up doing in the final piece. The piece kept changing throughout the process before returning back to nearly what I'd come up with that first night. There are no neat answers in this situation and as further horrors stack up, I find myself coming back to that last line over and over again "hold close..." - Nick

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In Print!: Mind the Gaps

Another piece sees print this month, this time "Mind the Gaps" (which I first posted here) specifically created for my advisor Ruth Vinz's (and co-author David Schaafsma's) text Narrative Inquiry: Approach to Language and Literacy Research. My piece serves as the final chapter, initially a sort of "fable for the future" (as Ruth terms it) as to where narrative inquiry might be headed. I wrote this bit of text to introduce it, some of which made it's way into the lovely introduction Ruth provides to my chapter:

In extending me this opportunity to contribute this coda of sorts, Ruth and Dave are demonstrating a firm commitment to the path staked out in the text, and an openness to new ways of seeing and re-presenting, an embracing of multiplicity of perspectives that is the future of narrative work.
Narratives are messy, composed of nested, overlapping elements, running in a multitude of directions. While time may or may not unfold linearly, bringing together multiple vantage points results in a dizzying web of complex connections. Comics are a language of juxtapositions, particularly well-suited to convey the richness and depth of non-linear, multi-layered narratives. By holding multiple threads and multiple trains of thought together, comics act as a sort of third-space – a place to let multiple stories and metaphors come together and interact in complex ways, while remaining navigable and readable.
But more than a powerful tool for juxtapositions, comics are a place where the visual and the verbal exist side by side. In comics, the visual is equal partner to the verbal, not illustrative of the ‘real’ thing or mere decoration, but integral to our thinking and our making of meaning. The resonance between visual and verbal modes creates for a higher order space, something beyond either alone.
For this piece I sought to offer a “fable for the future” that emphasized this visual aspect in telling the story from a different angle. As I set forth to unravel what narrative inquiry meant and how best to present it to the reader/viewer, I was struck by the similarities between the process of doing narrative work as Ruth and Dave laid it out and life drawing. Unlike flat, snapshot models of research as “drive-by,” narrative and life drawing convey the dynamic relationships between living beings in their uncertainties and their complexity. And from this starting point, and a lot of play in between, the following piece emerged… 
Anyhow, there you have it (in more words than the piece itself!). - Nick

In Print!: Maxine Says

While I'm in a bit of a slowdown on comics-making (mostly due to my organizing the upcoming conference on Creativity, Play, and the Imagination at Teachers College), there's an upsurge of my work appearing in print of late. I thought I'd share a few links to the publications and to the work.

First up my piece "Maxine Says" from the Fall of 2008 (it originally appeared on this site here) appears in the Bob Lake edited "Dear Maxine: Letters from the Unfinished Conversation." As the title indicates, "Dear Maxine" consists of letters to Maxine from her former students, colleagues, reflected on her influence. My piece was made while I was taking Professor Greene's class, sitting in her living room with 30 other students (and not conceived for the purposes of the book, that came about much later). In retrospect, it seems a little daunting, making a piece about the legendary philosopher and then turning it in for an assignment - but her initial reception has led to an ongoing conversation between us, and I'm grateful that my initial audacity or more likely, naivete, made that possible. - Nick

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

of consequence

Continuing my attempt at a weekly comics piece for Robbie McClintock's course... Not sure i'm going to make the weekly part. But still going to work through some ideas conceptually and visually as I go. - Nick

of consequence

Continuing my attempt at a weekly comics piece for Robbie McClintock's course... Not sure i'm going to make the weekly part. But still going to work through some ideas conceptually and visually as I go. - Nick

Monday, February 7, 2011

learning pathways (untitled)

This term, I'm sitting in on my advisor Robbie McClintock's final  course - a look back at his formative educational experiences. I set myself a small goal of making a short piece inspired by something that occurred in the class or the reading. I include the quote from Robbie to start it off, and then other ideas from the class and my own work (related to my dissertation) constitute this one. The first page references the Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts and also connect to my 2004 billboard project - which you can read about here. This imagery came up again in my dissertation proposal, and likely will make it in some form into the actual piece. The second page offers a vastly different approach, one that is in line with a new piece done for publication a few weeks back, that i've yet to post, allowing it to appear elsewhere first. Been pushing a lot lately, since the Shape of Our Thoughts piece, on allowing the text to shape the imagery and the image to shape the text - seeing my role as one of mediator in the creative process. That leads to things like the second page, but the first page was fun in getting back to just drawing stuff for a (long!) while... - Nick 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Shape of Our Thoughts

Subtitled, "a meditation on and in comics," "The Shape of Our Thoughts," is an exploration of how comics work, what their potential for conveying and exploring meaning is, and a tiny bit on implications for art/and comics education. It's intended as a journal article and culled from material from my dissertation proposal. As this visual-verbal essay embraces the visual as being integral to our thinking, the work proceeds in form as it does in content. The very compositions of each page function to develop the theorizing that is the piece. I sought to create something that addressed the ideas in its very shape throughout, and in doing so i was led to some places i hadn't expected to go in the least. Anyhow, enough words... - Nick

(After the pages themselves, i offer some behind the scenes commentary at some of the details inside.)

So the story my grandmother "tells" here, is fictional. That is, i can't remember specifics of her stories but this tries to replicate them in spirit by drawing on elements from her life that are all true, and it could be a day that happened. Some specifics - she walked to catch the bus (my grandmother never drove), and no doubt was greeted by neighbor dogs. My mom and siblings all had beagles, so this is a nod to those, i'm guessing at least one neighbor had a friendly one over the years. Onward, she took me to the Fisher Building in Detroit on occasion, and i know she liked it quite a bit. The "detour" relates to the fact that i'm the biographer of Detroit artist Charles McGee - who ran a gallery there at some point, and i'm speculating on a possible meeting between them. Near Second and Forest Avenues, my grandmother's father, later her brother, had a shoe supply store - Kanners & Patrize Co (eventually). It's now the Green Garage in Detroit. I know from my mom, they used to watch the parade from there. Ok, getting to the Detroit Public Library where my grandmother volunteered - helping with wayfinding, shelving, etc. The encounters, including with the red tailed hawk are made up - but possible.

P2: The "comic" pictured on the bottom is a nod to Molly Bang's "Picture This: How Pictures Work" in which she tells Little Red Riding Hood through geometric shapes and color. I used this as an example to a class of 9th graders in how to tell superhero stories even if you don't think you can draw - imagine Superman and Batman as loose geometric shapes. Here's such a story of a world's finest team-up...

P3: I couldn't figure out a structure on how to hold a page intentionally fragmented together. In a conversation with my friend Jon, he mentioned an aversion to things Calder (mostly joking). I said, i'd make use of that somewhere. And the next day, it occurred to me this page could be a mobile - static pieces made kinetic.

P4: The resonance between word and image - the tornado is composed of text from the Wizard of Oz when the Cyclone arrives and from a wikipedia entry on the butterfly effect. (I also included the Tempest, but that disappeared by the final version).

P5: Thinking on "lateral thinking" here - i originally had this as 3 or 4 lateral/horizontal strips, but they had so much commonality - i wanted to connect them more directly. I tried this once, thought better of it, woke up the next morning and tried it again, and said why not? (Having spent days trying to figure out how to do it, i can answer the why not much better...) It is intended to be read vaguely upper left to lower right, hitting pieces along the way as one does. The far right column does connect quite directly - but i very purposefully wanted this to be readable in many different ways - to emphasize the point of sketching, of making connections laterally. Also, the math sketches are my dad's, would've liked to show a bit more of that alongside my own sketches figuring out how to make this piece. Another time...

P6: I told my dad about my idea for the final page, and he grabbed the latest issue of Scientific American which had an image of the brain as nodes for the cover. Tied in neatly where i was already going... - That's it, N