“These are the times that try men’s souls.“ Thomas Paine’s famous words would become a rallying cry for a people fighting what they considered the tyranny of British rule, and his pamphlets would spark a revolution. And so, from manuscript to the printing press and from xerox machines to the internet, access to technology that allows for easy dissemination of new ways of thinking remains an important part of critiquing the status quo and rallying people to a cause.

We continue to struggle to live up to the ideals reflected in the Preamble of our Constitution, but artists have used the very first Amendment to remind us of our capacity to use information to change minds and hearts by challenging mainstream norms. Book and zine artists use those familiar, often nostalgic forms to force us to confront our notions of fairness, of freedom, of our own biases. Whether created by punk, feminist, hip-hop, immigrant, LGBTQ, or socialist communities, books and zines can show revolutions as they occur and create imagined Utopias. Books and art give a voice to the downtrodden and neglected. They hold a mirror for those of us on the inside to see what it’s like to walk in the shoes of those on the outside.

Blackbook #4

Blackbooks are sketch books that were meant to be shared and were a way for graffiti artists to practice their work and create art in different media. The artwork in these books was mainly made by DOMS-KOC, a Harlem based graffiti artist, and other members of his crew, KOC (Knock Out Crew). The page shown here appears to be the work of REV2, with letters written using the shape of stacks of bills. It exemplifies the innovative ways that graffiti artists reimagine letterforms and use their work to express themselves and communicate with other members of their community.

Rags to Riches: A Capitalist Flexagon

Manipulating this flexagon reveals a 19th century English proverb and provides an opportunity to consider the flow of cash. Paper was handmade by Helen Hiebert from recycled linen rags and shredded currency. The text cycles to reveal three panels that read:

Rags make paper. Paper makes money. Money makes banks. Banks make loans. Loans make beggars. Beggars make rags.

Sublevarte Colectivo: 2012-NY-MX

Sublevarte, a Collective of Mexican artists, was born out of the ENAP (National School of Fine Arts) of UNAM (the National Autonomous University of Mexico), during the student strike of 1999-2000, the longest student strike in history. Sublevarte Colectivo believes that the graphic arts should be a vehicle of expression and communication in society. They have brought this vision to their work with the Zapatistas, the flower sellers of Atenco, the striking teachers of Oaxaca, and dozens of other social struggles in Mexico.

“Revolution ‘69” Anti-Vietnam War Photograph Album

Photograph album documenting one (anonymous) participant's experience of various East Coast anti-war protests in 1969, including the Counter-Inaugural March on Washington, the "Umpteenth Annual Parade to End the War in Vietnam," and especially the march on Fort Dix.

This Little Book Contains Every Reason Why Women Should Not Vote

A humorous suffragist pamphlet in which all of the inside pages are blank.

Let's Talk About the F Word

A 10-page zine in which the author discusses the emotional impact of the word “faggot.”

Diseaster Now for Future Love

News From Nowhere, or, An Epoch of Rest: Being Some Chapters From a Utopian Romance

A Revisioning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America

Heat Seeker, No. 10

Zine created using a matchbook cover.

Tobacco Project: Red Book

Commissioned by Duke University, this project focuses on the University's historical connection to Durham's “tobacco culture” and its economic ties to the cultivation and sale of tobacco products. It also addresses the related historical issue of the impact on China of the large-scale exportation of tobacco products from the U.S. in the late 19th century.

Previous Section | Next Section