E17: Zines


17th Annual Exercises for Emerging Artists Program

July 29 – September 5, 2020

Hosted in collaboration with Paper Cuts


Transformer is honored to announce E17: Zines, the 17th year of our Exercises for Emerging Artists program – an annual peer critique and mentorship program for DC-based emerging artists. Centered on a different artistic discipline each year, E17: Zines is supporting and promoting seven artists interested in zines and DIY publishing: Ayana Zaire Cotton, Jennifer Lillis, Athena Naylor, Late Comeback Press (Rachna Soun and Caroline Kim), Evyan Roberts, and Julie Sheah.

Launched in March 2004, Transformer’s annual Exercises for Emerging Artists program supports DC-based emerging artists at new growth points or crossroads in their professional and creative development. Intended to both advance artists' careers and build peer support, the Exercises program consists of comprehensive bi-weekly peer critique and mentorship sessions spanning several months to stimulate and encourage the participating artists as they create new work. Facilitated by Transformer staff, the participating artists receive mentorship and feedback from a series of guest mentors comprised of more established artists, curators, and other arts leaders.

E17: Zines was led by leading guest mentor Christopher Kardambikis - artist, Assistant Professor and Director of Navigation Press, a master printmaking residency, at the School of Art at George Mason University, with coordination by Katie Lee, Transformer’s Exhibitions & Programming Coordinator. E17: Zines artists received guidance and feedback from a series of guest mentors, including: #Blkgrlswurld ZINE (Christina Long & Courtney Long), Erica Federhen (Ipsy Bipsy Studio), Malaka Gharib, Adam Griffiths, Monica Johnson, Adriana Monsalve, and Risolve Studio (Lyndsey Burke & Sebastian Burke).

In response to COVD-19, all E17: Zines peer critique and mentorship sessions were conducted via Zoom calls this spring. As the traditional, in person, culminating summer exhibition of works created through the program is not feasible this year, a poster/mailer highlighting the artworks each artist created through E17: Zines will be circulated and shared on Transformer’s website. Zine artworks created by each artist will be available for purchase through Transformer’s online store beginning July 29th. The zines will also be presented via a storefront window installation at Transformer from August 1 – September 5, 2020.

To learn more about E17: Zines, the artists, and their work, please join Transformer for a series of online panel conversations this summer in collaboration with the Paper Cuts podcast. Paper Cuts is an exploration of the contemporary world of zines and DIY publishing. Through a series of podcasts and live events, Paper Cuts features writers, performers, and artists who have shared their work in print, on paper, and in small editions. Free; advance registration required. Register here

E17: Zines Participant Bios:

Ayana Zaire Cotton is a transdisciplinary artist, designer, technologist, and educator, visualizing and collectively crafting a post-work future. Her practice is rooted in black feminist, pedagogy, mutual aid, open source philosophy, labor, and black aesthetics research. This research has manifested in her work via independent publishing, virtually teaching software engineering to students worldwide, and an experimental clothing line as a platform for researching labor studies and aesthetics. As an artist, designer, and software engineer Ayana feels “educator” is a title that most resonates with the full possibilities of her mediums, goals, and practice.

Jennifer Lillis is a multi-disciplinary artist, teacher, and administrator in Northern Virginia. She received her MFA in Visual Art from George Mason University in 2019, and her BA in Studio Art from Marymount University in 2012. Jennifer’s work explores the theme of transformation in the function and materiality of objects through the ritualization of her creative practice. She is currently the Gallery Manager at the McLean Project for the Arts, on the coordinating committee of MPAartfest, Adjunct Professor in Printmaking at George Mason University, co-producer of Paper Cuts, and founder of the print and book collective ELEMENTS.

Athena Naylor is a cartoonist originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, now living in Washington, DC. Through comics, Athena considers what makes the mundane meaningful and how big stories reside within small, everyday events. Alongside her self-published collections of autobiographical comics, Athena has had work featured in The Lily and Nat. Brut. Her comic The Checkout Counter was published through the podcast-publishing venture Paper Cuts. Her work can be found at athenanaylor.com and on Instagram @athena.naylor.

Late Comeback Press is a Northern Virginia micropress run by Rachna Soun and Caroline Kim, specializing in avant-garde zines. Late Comeback Press’ name derives from the French term l’esprit de l’escalier – thinking of the perfect reply a little too late. As two Asian-American artists, they live within the hyphen, struggling, at times, to convey language that exists in one culture but not in the other. Communication and existentialism are the center of their art, flourishing in the space before choices are made, when the possibilities can seem paralyzingly endless or distinctively finite.

Evyan Roberts (she/her) is a queer, fat, black, femme who is deeply committed to intersectional feminism and #blackgirlmagic. She lives in MD and is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work, where she intends to keep working to promoting equity for sex workers and trans folx. Her writing has appeared in the poetry anthology A Garden of Black Joy: Global Poetry from the Edges of Liberation and Living, as well as online literary journals such as Kissing Dynamite where she was the featured poet for August 2019, Ithaca Lit, Not Your Mother's Breast Milk, Rogue Agent, and elsewhere.

Julie Sheah is a graphic artist whose drawings explore the horrors and curiosities of otherwise ordinary subjects. She has a keen interest in the surreal and absurd and is an avid connoisseur of puns. As a first-generation Taiwanese-American, growing up in rural Texas gave her an odd sense of humor that came from grappling with social isolation, Otherness, and dual culture identity. Today she lives in Washington, DC where she continues to draw and create visual puns through her artists’ books.

E17: Zines Guest Mentor Bios:

#Blkgrlswurld ZINE (Christina Long & Courtney Long) is a small press based in Harlem, New York that celebrates and documents Women of Color who participate in heavy music genres like Metalcore, Hardcore, Punk and Black Metal. Interviewing bands, attending concerts and vending at zine fairs, #Blkgrlswurld ZINE introduces readers to new music and the diversity within music.

Erica Federhen is a designer, illustrator, maker and creative director of Ipsy Bipsy Studio in Washington, DC. Ipsy Bipsy Studio is independently operated by Erica, who prints and hand crafts every item with care and intention.

Malaka Gharib is an artist, journalist, writer based in Washington, DC, and author of I WAS THEIR AMERICAN DREAM. She is the founder of The Runcible Spoon, a food zine, and the co-founder of the DC Art Book Fair.

Adam Griffiths is a cartoonist, illustrator, and artist living in Takoma Park, Maryland who approaches his cartoons as a visionary agent that skates the edges of contemporary art, illustration, outsider art, and underground comics. His artwork explores the symbolisms and mutabilities in historical imperialism and the overall class system.

Monica Johnson is a comix zinester, community organizer, curator, and mama living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University (BA), and CUNY Hunter College’s Integrated Media Arts Program (MFA). She is currently Managing Director at Booklyn, a not-for-profit artist and bookmakers’ organization in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. In her spare time, she organizes Radical Playdate, programming for children and people with childcare responsibilities, for Interference Archive.

Adriana Monsalve is an artist, book maker, and educator, located in the DMV. She is the co-founder of Homie House Press, a skeleton bones crew of femmes creating, publishing, and reclaiming their space and power in the foto book medium. Within her photographic practice, Monsalve is a storyteller & visual communicator producing in-depth stories on identity through the nuances in between race, gender, and immigrant adjacent experiences.

Risolve Studio (Lyndsey Burke & Sebastian Burke) is a family-operated print and design studio located in downtown Lancaster, PA, run by husband and wife team Sebastian and Lyndsey Burke. Founded in 2017, Risolve was born from a shared love of printmaking, design and innovation, and celebrates Riso printing and works to expand the technical limits and boundaries of the digital duplicator process.

E17: Zines is supported by a generous donation from The Robert Lehman Foundation.