Want to help me go to the Arctic?

Many of you know that I am currently on leave from my job at the University of Puget Sound for the calendar year of 2017 so that I can pursue some exciting opportunities I have been granted related to my art career.

The first is that I will be Artist in Residence at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside this spring. The second opportunity is the purpose of this post. I have been accepted to participate in the prestigious Arctic Circle Residency. What this opportunity means is that I will be traveling to Longyearben, Svalbard, located in the Arctic Circle north of Norway, with a small group of scientists and other artists to study and explore the area. The residency extends from October 1st-19th.

Some background on why I am embarking on this journey: As many of you know, throughout my life, I have nurtured a profound love of the natural world and all animals. National and global policies have had a severe impact on aquatic habitats and life—including ocean acidification and varying forms of pollution. For the last two years, I have been working on an art project called “Sea,” which is a meditation on humanity’s impact on ocean life. The project involves hand-making paper from scraps of discarded newsprint and then carving thousands of waves into the paper.

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-5-19-20-pmIn 2015, I printed some of these sheets and packaged them as a comic book. The book was granted a Toonie Award from Cartoonist’s Northwest and was spotlighted by both The Stranger and Seattle Review of Books. The original pages were selected for exhibition at Washington State University this past fall.

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-5-21-44-pm

In my continuing work on this project, I have had the opportunity to consult and collaborate with scientists who are studying whales, ocean noise pollution, salmon habitat, etc. Traveling to the Arctic is my opportunity to develop “Sea” in ways that will expand the project’s message and scope. I am proud of the work I am doing and excited for the opportunity that this residency will provide to deepen my perspectives, my communities, and my art to better serve ocean habitats and animals that are currently under threat around the world, as well as to draw attention the human communities that depend upon water for our well-being.

The cost of the residency is $6300 and includes Longyearben lodge accommodation, transfers from airport to lodge and lodge to ship, all meals on board, all shore excursions, and access to on board facilities.I am applying for grant opportunities to cover this fee, but I also need to purchase plane tickets, arctic gear, art supplies, and a hydrophone to record underwater sounds. Rather than doing a typical online fundraiser, I’ve decided to offer a more direct opportunity for you to buy original art from me to support my journey. I will appreciate whatever you can give toward this adventure and I am happy to take commissions for cut paper art ranging anywhere from $30-500. We can talk individually about what size, materials, and level of detail I can offer at different price points ($30, $75, $125, $250, $500). You may also purchase original pages from the comic book “Sea,” which I can deliver to you once the exhibition if completed (by 2019). I anticipate all other commissions can be completed and delivered this summer.

If you are unable to purchase art from me at this time, thank you for taking the time to read this post! I appreciate all forms of mental and emotional support, too, and would love to hear from you regardless.

Wishing you are all well and taking care during these strange times.

Mita
mitamahato[at]gmail[dot]com

Here is 2017

I’ve been meaning to read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction for some time now and I finally picked it up on discount a few weeks ago while holiday shopping. I’m not sure how I would have responded to its content during other periods of my life. Much of it is beautifully and thoughtfully written—but it is bleak. After all, it traces the various mass extinctions that have happened over the past billions of years and patterns (or lack thereof) of earth catastrophes that have caused these extinctions. It’s not that I’m squeamish about the bleak, but confronting such dire and inescapable realities sometimes has a way of setting off my anxiety. Given that I’ve spent the last couple months in a kind of post-election mourning state, unsure about my standing and my direction, I was surprised by how comforting this book about cataclysmic change has been.

I am just now in the chapters about the Anthropocene—this current epoch in which humankind is unalterably affecting the Earth, acting as the primary agent to the endangering and extinction of several species. The chapter I’m reading right now is dealing with the coral reefs and the likely obliteration of these rich ecosystems by the end of this century. The reality is that man is hastening the death of the planet as we know it. Although these kinds of catastrophic changes seem to be part and parcel of the earth’s very long history, what is curious (though not surprising) is that humanity is making the planet inhospitable for itself. 

The 2017 election has caused an unfamiliar numbness in me. It’s not that I no longer feel hope, but much of my processing and reflection has been shrouded by fears of what a Trump presidency promises, and my brain and my heart seem to be girding themselves for the coming months and years. I am concerned for the planet and its inhabitants. I am concerned for our rights—which include air, water, plant, habitat—that could be eroded or simply decimated when Trump takes office (too, I am keeping in mind that these basic rights have been withheld from many for some time). Reading Kolbert’s book has the effect of making me feel how very short life is and how very small I am, while simultaneously demonstrating the undeniable centrality of humanity in affecting so many aspects of life on this planet. She talks about this paradoxical feeling herself when she is visiting places where nature seems too big and too awe-inspiring to grasp; yet she witnesses in these places undeniable evidence of manmade consequence. If the current course of climate change is irreversible or if its slowing is increasingly becoming impossible, then how or where to hope?

It’s useful to think of the earth as destined for cataclysm, whether by man or meteor, because then hope can reside in nothing but the present and perhaps the immediate future (and when thinking in terms of epochs, that immediacy isn’t so quick to come). As much as I have been feeling numb, I have been feeling a corresponding well of creative enthusiasm building inside of me that is linked to this hope in the present. It’s an odd notion as we usually situate hope’s outcome as something ahead of us rather than something next to us or with us. As I consider what my creative and political directions will be in the coming year, I take with me a powerful and hopeful numbness and a determination to persist.

My art this past year has largely revolved around whale and ocean conservancy. I see that interest becoming more focalized moving into 2017 and as I gear up for the residency in the Arctic this fall. Having stepped away from full-time teaching for the next year, I will have time not only to work on my art, but also to submerse myself in my surroundings (be they near or far) and nurture friendships and community in ways that I hope will grow my work. I plan to devote myself to projects that highlight small, quiet, and slow movements and sounds. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next in all aspects of my life. I want to grow my brain and make room in my heart.

I have some exciting projects already in the works for the coming months that will do some good in realizing these hopes. Stay tuned for updates. With love—

Better days

Me and Robyn Jordan, Short Run 2016

Me and Robyn Jordan, Short Run 2016

Short Run this year was phenomenal. And it also feels like ages ago. BT. Before Trump. I have a feeling that everyone who was a part of the fest this year will remember it very fondly.

“Patterns” and “Forty Two” are now both available in my online store. Because of what the Trump presidency promises to bring, I’ll be donating whatever money I make online through the rest of November to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It’s a starting point.

Paul Constant gave a mention to both “Patterns” and “Forty Two” in his “Best of Short Run” feature for The Seattle Review of Books. About “Forty Two,” he writes:

it feels like a personal document, like a handwritten letter. It’s so confessional, and so fun, and so celebratory, that it can pick a reader up even when it feels as though the world is burning down.

It does feel like the world is burning down AND I am really proud of what Emilie, Kelly, and I created in this book. There is a lot of work to be done ahead of us. I am grateful that art will help see us through. Take care everyone.

Short Run is here!

Short Run week has arrived! I’ve just returned from International Comics Night where I had the opportunity to listen to Ivana Pipal (Croatia), Ilan Manouach (Belgium/Greece), Hatem Imam (Lebanon), and Inés Estrada (Mexico) speak about their incredible work in comics. I was blown away by how visceral and present and unique each of their work is. They will all be at Short Run this Saturday. In fact, there are going to be well over 200 artists there this year from the Pacific Northwest and all around the country and world. I’m especially looking forward to seeing new work by Marnie Galloway, Paper Press Punch, and The H_A_N_D collective. But there’s so much to see!—can’t wait.

Leading up to the fest, Robyn Jordan and I stopped by the Accidents on Purpose Studios for an interview about the festival, our work, and George W. Bush’s portraiture. You can listen to it here.

I’m almost ready. My new book, Patterns, is done:

2016-10-30-16-31-21

I’ve been wanting to work on this book about the various life patterns we live and repeat and attempt to break out of for awhile now. I started the cut paper work—cutting tiny patterns into vintage sewing transparencies for the background panels—this past summer. And now it’s all printed, sewn up, and ready for you. Rich Smith at The Stranger gave it a generous shout-out in his Short Run shopping list. Grateful.

And here is Forty-Two, the collaborative zine written and drawn by Kelly Froh, Emilie Bess, and me. So proud of this work and thankful for the friendships that made it happen.

2016-11-02-23-19-30

Both of these books will be for sale in my online store after Short Run, but if you’re able to stop by the fest, please do!

srposter_3_signature1

Fall

Fall is here!—And with it Short Run season. Lots happening this upcoming month!

  • I am tremendously honored and humbled to be included in an exhibit featuring NW cartoonists at the Museum of Art at Washington State University. The opening reception for the exhibit is this Thursday, October 6th. I will be holding a conversation and workshop on Graphic Medicine that afternoon.
  • On October 9th, I’ll be running a families-oriented sculptural collage workshop at the Henry Art Gallery. We will be making a giant landscape together, playing off of ideas inspired by the art in the galleries. Join us!
  • Satellite events for Short Run begin next week. Check out the schedule! So much good comics stuff going on leading up to the festival.
  • Speaking of Short Run, the collaborative zine I’m working on with Kelly Froh and Emilie Bess to debut at the fest is nearly done and we will be putting the finishing touches on it this weekend (fingers crossed). I am also steadily making progress on “Patterns” and it should be ready for the printer by mid-October. Here is a teaser in the form of a blurry photo featuring some of the cut paper work I’m doing for it:

fullsizerender-31

 

 

Upcoming!

Next Saturday, September 17th, I’ll be giving a reading in Spokane along with Kelly Froh and Simeon Mills. The event is hosted by Spark Center and Scablands Lit and you can find out more information here.

Early October will bring me to another event in Eastern Washington, this time in Pullman. I’m honored to be included in an exhibit at the Museum of Art at Washington State University that will feature Northwest cartoonists. On display will be original pages from “Sea,” “Hitched,” and a few early comics as well. I’ll also be teaching a comics workshop as a part of the opening festivities.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but Short Run is happening on November 5th! I’ll be debuting TWO new books there—one a collaborative zine with Kelly Froh and Emilie Bess. The other is called Patterns and has been a labor of love, using handmade paper and cut fabric pattern transparencies modeled after Japanese Katagami work. Both are still in progress but more details forthcoming!

Hope to see you at something soon.

 

July

I spent the afternoon doing a major revamp of the website. If you notice anything off, please let me know.

In other news:

  • The Seattle Art Museum invited me to lead a “My Favorite Things” tour of their “Graphic Masters” exhibit last week. I had a blast sharing with the group who joined me what excites me about Rembrandt’s “Saint Jerome Beside a Pollard Willow,” Hogarth’s Harlot’s Progress series, and Plate 32 from Goya’s Los Caprichos. I also had some choice words for Picasso.
  • The 7th annual Comics and Medicine conference happened this past weekend in Dundee, Scotland. From what I can tell, it was another incredible meeting. Needless to say, I was devastated not to be there and am eager to check out the conference archive as soon as it goes online.
  • Chin up: I am excited to announce that, together with Meredith Li-Vollmer (King County Public Health) and Jose Alaniz (University of Washington, Disability Studies Program), I will be welcoming the 8th annual Comics and Medicine conference here to Seattle. The 2017 conference will take place June 15th-17th. Titled “Access Points,” the theme will broadly address issues related to the intersections between comics and health access/accessibility. Announcements about guest speakers etc. forthcoming.
  • Exhibitor applications for Short Run Seattle close on the 15th. Get your applications in if you haven’t already!

Thanks for stopping in. Hopefully more soon. With love, me.