Protest Publishing

Eclectic exhibit highlights student print art and rare art books that connect with the current political climate

Wilson Library’s “Protest Publishing and Art: From the Copy Machine to the Internet” exhibits a wide variety of books and art from rare early zines and 70’s ephemera to contemporary student prints. As protest art, these zines and prints “go beyond the message” into generative action, said Jenny Schmid, artist and teacher of the participating class Books, Zines, and Comics. She finds printmaking to be a unique artform because “it has a mixed history between fine art and graphic design…with a long tradition of artists who use print, standing up for the underdog.” Schmid sees art as “essential to our culture’s survival,” informing all realms of existence, and transforming the Twin Cities into something more than “a truck stop in the middle of the cornfields,” through the continued support and engagement of the community.

Photographer: Carter Blochwitz

Photographer: Carter Blochwitz

This interdisciplinary approach is seen in the exhibit, with pieces calling attention to such issues as the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, intersectional feminism, and the lack of accessible healthcare in the U.S. Student work is the most physically accessible part of the exhibit, with a wide variety of individual interests, styles, and tastes shown in the artwork scattered throughout several study areas.

The zines, taken from the Gorman Rare Art Book Collection and shown just outside the James Bell library on the 4th floor, are an even more heterogeneous group. Heading past a student piece consisting of underwear inscribed with ‘Nasty Woman,’ I saw a glass-enclosed gallery where the zines and small publications were displayed. Among the pieces included were a direct action manual of radical environmentalists Earth First!, information on the Hmong LGBTQ+ community, second-wave feminist literature, and miscellany zines such as “The Adventures of Mouse the Dog.” These zines are just a fraction of the astonishing variety and quantity of media in the Gorman Rare Art Book Collection.

While the Gorman Rare Art Book Collection is free and open to the public year-round, the Protest Publishing exhibit ends May 19th. The exhibit will also be featuring performance art and a panel discussion during the opening reception on April 20th. More information can be found on the University Libraries’ website, and highlights from the Gorman Rare Art Book Collection can be viewed on their active Tumblr.