Art and creative expression programs have always been somewhat limited to students in the Roaring Fork Valley. Both inside and outside of school, the focus is often more on the importance of mathematics and science compared to art and writing. However, in recent years, various programs have been introduced to help students find a better outlet for sharing their artistic vision. One of these innovative projects is Carbondale Arts’ new Zine Project.
Essentially, this initiative engages students interested in drawing and other forms of art and those who have a passion for writing. The Zine Project’s first semester includes a group of high school students led by Carbondale Arts Education Director Michael Stout. The goal is to create multiple art projects that bring light to many topics, including mental health. Once put together, these zines — a mini-magazine — serve as short books, or pamphlets, with a combination of visual art and written word.
Two Roaring Fork High School students and program participants, Cas Weaver and Lucy Silcox, described how it benefits their personal goals. As Silcox explained, “The Zine Program is a space where young artists can collaborate to complete a final project, which will be a finished zine. It not only helps us work together toward a finished project but brings in artists from the community to teach us new skills.” Silcox and Weaver shared that this opportunity has been an excellent way to learn and develop their skills and challenge themselves.
The group, which meets twice a week, is given time to explore different articles, brainstorm, and work as a team. Silcox, for example, is working on two sizable pieces.
She said, one is “a short memoir I’ve drafted describing my experience with mental health as it relates to sports, specifically the extremely committed cross-country skiing team I am a part of and train with.” Silcox describes the second piece as “a fake ad depicting harmful homophobic terms.” The zine contributions from Silcox are examples of the broad subjects that zines can broach.
Generally speaking, both Silcox and Weaver’s perspectives have shown how, through creating zines, they are given the chance to go beyond their limits and accomplish their goals. Weaver shared that this was an opportunity to “push myself creatively by doing things I normally wouldn’t.” She also expressed that the pieces she has worked on are mostly things she would have not created by herself. Moreover, working as a team is motivating. “We want to be proud of what we make during this.”
Silcox and Weaver shared that one of the most beautiful parts of this program is the collaborative aspect — getting to learn and share ideas with each other. Creating these zines has allowed students to become more confident and enthusiastic to construct their own ideas and make art together.
The Zine Project is a new opportunity, extending a hand to all artsy students and, along with it, the idea that anyone and everyone can produce zines. Just like making any art, zines are another avenue to share expressive creations. This program in the Valley will hopefully be the beginning of more zines and artistic endeavors that open up more opportunities for students to share their ingenious creations.