Hello from mid-May

Some big and small updates:

  • I am beyond excited to announce that Pleaides Press will be publishing a collection of my short comics this fall! Here is the cover:

    The book will include a few comics that are no longer in print, some older ones that I have never printed, and some new ones that I made especially for the book (including my UCR Residency project). Working with Pleiades has been a dream. We went through 8 proofs before reaching the final one and now are in discussions about paper. I can’t wait to see the book in print! Due out when I get back from the Arctic in late October.
  • I’ve been helping to plan The 8th Annual Comics and Medicine Conference for nearly two years now and I’m thrilled to say that it’s almost here! June 15th-17th. It should be a great weekend, with many events free and open to the public. If you can come out for any of it, please do. As incentive, check out the conference tote bag (art by ET Russian and gorgeously screen-printed by Independence Printage):
    And here is a sneak peak of the cover I made for the comix newspaper anthology that we’re putting together to debut at the conference (featuring 28 contributors!):
    Come on out!
  • Finally, I will be tabling at Olympia Comics Festival in a couple weekends and then CAKE the weekend after that. Find me! I’ll have a couple more announcements related to both of these fests soon.
  • As soon as the Comics and Medicine conference is over, I’ll turn my attention to promised commissions and other projects. I’m still taking requests if you’re interested. Thank you so much.

Be well.

April Hello

Hello.

As I write this message, the sun is trying very hard to break through the clouds here in Seattle. My month of taking in the Riverside sunshine spoiled me! It was an incredible residency and I will hold it in my heart for some time.

When I returned, I almost immediately boarded another plane, this time bound for Chicago, where Comic Nurse M.K. Czerwiec was debuting her graphic memoir, Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371. I was invited to interview M.K. for the opening festivities:

Photo credit: Grace Pisula

It was a heart-warming night. The nurse who hired M.K. on the AIDS unit in the 90s was in attendance!—along with many of her friends, family members, colleagues, and fans. You really should read this book! It is a profound and necessary archive. I described it to M.K. as a blessing.

Next week, I’ll be returning to the Sou’Wester in Southern Washington for Short Run’s 3rd annual Trailer Blaze residency. I am eager to be away making art with some of my favorite people. My residency project will be a 4-page travel narrative (in the spirit of “Hitched” but set at sea) for Cold Cube Press. Cold Club’s risograph-printed publications are beautiful pieces of art and the invitation to contribute to their 2017 anthology was an honor. I am excited to create collage and cut paper work specifically with the riso-printing process in mind; I think this project is going to stretch and challenge my creative limbs.

Otherwise, my life has been consumed with planning the 2017 Comics and Medicine Conference. If you’re in the area, think about at least stopping by for the public programming. We’ll be announcing the schedule toward the end of the month.

Take care, everyone.

Riverside

I’m writing from sunny Riverside, CA where I’m very much enjoying my time as Artist in Residence at the School of Medicine at UCR. It’s been incredible so far. In addition to teaching a class on “Practicing Graphic Medicine” through the Medical School, I’m also collaborating with Dr. Juliet McMullin in designing future projects, as well as spending time working on my own art.

The class has been a lot of fun. Last week, we discussed how the practice of drawing can provide a new set of tools to help see clinical situations and patient experience with a keener and slower eye. On the first day, I led the students through a “blind drawing” exercise, asking them to draw portraits of each other in pairs without putting their eyes on the paper in front of them. Here, I asked them to shift perspectives by moving around the room, standing up, or turning to face a different direction:

For the remaining weeks of the course, I will be guiding them to create their own comics about their experiences in clinical settings. I’m eager to see what they come up with.

As a part of my residency, I will also be delivering a talk this Thursday:

I’m excited to give this talk, though I admit to not having any solutions or conclusions to draw just yet—no sure answers about the role of art and comics in seeing us through these Trump years. At the same time, though, I do appreciate and want to emphasize that we’re all still figuring it out—and that there is no one fit to address where the world is (there never has been). Right now, I’m wanting art that helps us see and listen to each other (perhaps a running theme here?). Here is a page-in-progress from a short series that I have been working on—an exploration of what my patriotism feels like these days:

Finally, being back in California has been unexpectedly rejuvenating. I spent last weekend exploring Joshua Tree National Park. In my brief time there, I learned so much about the gorgeous, weird rock formations at the park; the threats that the park (and the multiple, unique systems of life it supports) faces from climate change; that much of the park is run on solar energy; that desert birdsong is one of the best sounds ever. We can’t let these lands that have been rightfully placed under protection to be gutted for the benefit of a few.

Stay well everyone. Thanks for stopping in <3

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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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