The Racine Creative Center is a quiet, seemingly abandoned place when you first walk in. If I recall correctly, the building was once home to a furniture store whose owners had a cute little white dog that was allowed to walk around the store. Once you reach the third floor, however, you’re met with a room full of 3 d printing equipment, computers, design books,and donuts with coffee. This is the chosen spot for John Bloner Jr’s February session of his monthly “art jams”. A type of artistic study hall, these two hour sessions allow people to paint, write, or work on whatever current creative project they choose. The sessions are usually tied into Bloner Jr’s zine, Moss Piglet whose issues are devoted to a theme such as “Tim Burton” or, in the case of the upcoming issue, “Urban and Rural”. Some people are working on projects for the magazine, like Wendy, a multi talented writer and painter who was excited to be featured in the publication for the very first time with her mixed media painting of Lake Michigan. Other artists, such as Ruthie, used the time to work on personal artistic works. Originally from Texas, Ruthie used her printmaking skills to design a journal from an old purse with some leafs of paper. This opportunity for both artists to work on projects is a visual metaphor for Bloner Jr’s philosophy regarding the ‘zine culture. To him, a ‘zine should be “a way to build a community” between veteran creators and artists who are just starting out, thus creating a space that’s “comfortable for both types of artists”.
Bloner Jr. was inspired to start Moss Piglet by writer and fellow zine maker, Jessie Lynn McMains and a Seattle collective called Dune who also combine veteran and new artists. A sense of community plays a part in every step of the ‘zine’s publication process. People locally and internationally submit ideas for themes which are then voted on by internet users. These themes are put into a top ten list that is used by the publication throughout the year. Moss Piglet is also distributed locally to bars, local shops, and community centers that also serve as hosting locations for an Art Jam session.
. This spirit of community was present on Saturday with plenty of cheery camaraderie among the women dominated session. There were stories of wedding clothes and past teaching jobs along with reminiscences of 70s period clothing. The group of artists treated new arrivals and old friends with the same courtesy and welcoming manner.
Bloner hopes to inspire more of this communal attitude within the coming year. He wants to have more field trips to cities like Chicago and parks like Hawthorne Hollow. There’s also the plan for having more “art crawls”or community displays of art in natural and urban settings. He’s truly dedicated to making his publication a sort of meeting place for Racine
Moss Piglet proves that ‘zines are more than independent publications, they are a means of bringing people together. My trip to the art jam has shown that ‘zines not only communicate ideas, but they also provide a look into the inner workings of communities and the relationships between people. I think that Moss Piglet is an excellent example of how the community and art reflect one another; it shows an energetic, imaginative and welcoming group of people. I hope to explore this concept further in my ‘Zine project.