I set out for Zines of Racine to be the main project of my residence at Artroot. Sadly, with the coronavirus crisis, my scope became limited to interviews over email rather than 101 meetings and visits to the annual Milwaukee zine fest. With that said, I do think that the interviews conducted have provided a wide range of perspectives on the Zine and self publishing culture. Peg Rousar- Thompson, for example, got the knack for self publishing through her involvement in Science Fiction fandoms of the 1980s. There are also those who were involved in the 90s alternative scene zine craze like Jessie Lynn Mcmains and Valerie Valentine. Everyone I have interviewed had the opportunity to experience ‘Zines in a manner that reflected the cultural touchtones of the decades. Between the last 60s and 80s, Zines were an underground thing reserved for fans of music, comics, or people who are general artists. This was where people like Mark Geise and John Bloner Jr got their start. In the 90s, ‘Zines and the grunge culture gained a little more clout, getting covered in mainstream publications and having books devoted to the subjects. This mainstream exposure is how a few of my subjects got involved; Valentine was inspired to start her projects by finding a book about making your own zine. These experiences echo the thesis from my proposal of this project: events and culture influences art of a certain age and in turn, artistic output captures the feelings of a certain period.
Another important aspect of my project is how technology has brought these writers together. People from different generations have been able to adapt their passions to fit the new norms of artistic distribution with releasing zines and books online or establishing artistic collective groups on Facebook. While some have lamented the loss of mail order zines and sense of intimate camaraderie, the current climate of zoom meetings and online communication has revived this type of community. Now more than ever, people are eagerly sharing and discussing artwork In a sense, the olden days have returned again albeit through more serious conditions.
Hopefully, my “Zines of Racine” features has been able to not only spotlight extremely talented people from a smaller, local area, but also prove that creativity can be a connection between generations. For too long, there’s been a lot of coverage in the media about “Boomers” (people born in the mid 40s to early 60s) vs “millenials” (people born in the late 80s to early 90s) or even “Millennials” vs “Zoomers” (late 90s to early 2000s). From my own experience in the local artistic circles, people of all ages enjoy each other’s company and support all creative endeavors. Generational understanding is something we need at this time. It’s important to learn from the past in order to understand and confront the concerns of the present. I believe that has been accomplished in artistic communities in Racine and it has made us a better, more active city. If there is anything that people should take away from this feature, it is that artistic passions have an impact both personally and socially.