A little comic strip by “What It Is” alum, Dawn Wing.
"Lesbian Cattle Dogs"
Comics by 2012 “What It Is” class alum, Lydia Conklin
Dear Unthinkable Mind Class,
There are a lot of ways of doing your final project for our class. Comics are one of them.
Professor Old Skull
The ordinary is extraordinary.
Above, folding chairs from a now-gone church find new ways of being in the hands of Hans Gottsacker, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
See more on his tumblr page http://hansgottsacker.com/
The pictures above were drawn by two students in Lynda Barry’s “What It Is” class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison while doing something else. The first image was drawn by a student listening to ‘Yid Vicious” a Klezmer band that walked into the classroom playing their instruments one day. The other may have been drawn while listening to other students read their stories. Students were encouraged to draw or doodle during class.
Why? Doodling can help us pay attention and remember more.
"If someone is doing a boring task, like listening to a dull telephone conversation, they may start to daydream," said study researcher Professor Jackie Andrade, Ph.D., of the School of Psychology, University of Plymouth. "Daydreaming distracts them from the task, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task."
"In psychology, tests of memory or attention will often use a second task to selectively block a particular mental process. If that process is important for the main cognitive task then performance will be impaired. My research shows that beneficial effects of secondary tasks, such as doodling, on concentration may offset the effects of selective blockade," added Andrade. "This study suggests that in everyday life doodling may be something we do because it helps to keep us on track with a boring task, rather than being an unnecessary distraction that we should try to resist doing."
Last Spring Semester, Lynda Barry taught a writing and picture making class called “What It Is” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each student in the class made a book that incorporated both visual and written elements. Angela Richardson’s book, “Into the Dunes” is housed in an old metal box. Here’s a picture of one of the pages. See more of the book here
Professor Lynda misses her “What It Is” students very very much.
Chapter from a book by Laura Damon-Moore, read by Lynda Barry.
Laura Damon-Moore was a student in Lynda Barry’s “What it Is” class at the University of Wisconsin- Madison during Spring Semester, 2012. Each student built a hand made book as a final project using both text and visual images. Damon-Moore wrote, illustrated and designed an accordion-fold book about a strange green book making its way through time and different children’s lives by way of various traveling lending libraries, from the earliest book-filled cabinets arriving by train or horse-drawn carriage to a library housed in a converted railroad car.
Just talkin’ ‘bout librarians, y’all— can you DIG it?
Students in Lynda Barry’s ‘What It Is’ class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison came from all over the place including a very strong group of Library and Information Sciences grad students. HERE THEY ARE!
From left to right… Leah Portz, Laura Damon-Moore, Professor Lynda, Mel Nicholas and Dawn Wing. Photo taken at the reception for the “What It Is” class final projects, May 15th, 2012
Thanks to Dawn Wing for sending us this photo. Now Professor Lynda has to go find a hankie and cry into it because she misses her students so so much.
WHY IS BUCKY SO PROUD OF UW LIBRARY SCIENCES STUDENTS?
ART INCUBATORS: HOW LIBRARIES OFFER MORE THAN BOOKS
By Erin Batykefer, Laura Damon-Moore, Christina Endres
What is a library? A good place to go if you like stern, bun-headed women shushing you mercilessly? A place to store soon-to-be-obsolete books? A cultural institution past its prime in a digital age?
If you really spend time in a library— from the the New York Public Library’s main branch to Monona Public Library in Monona, WI— you might say that a library is a community center, a place to access the Internet on free public computers or to grab a cup of coffee, even a place to attend an art show, a poetry reading, or a public lecture.
On the Library as Incubator Project website, we want to showcase how libraries do more for their communities than provide free access to books; we’re interested in how they foster lifelong learning and creativity, and how they can (and do!) incubate the arts. Libraries provide tangible services to their communities every year; in Wisconsin, for example, they return $4.06 worth of materials and services for every tax dollar that’s invested, raising property values and literacy at the same time.
Libraries can be an office, a gallery, a performance space, even a studio. Take, for example, the ArtWalk gallery space in the Hartford Public Library in Hartford, CT which will be featured on the site soon. It’s a gorgeous, spacious exhibition area attached to the library. The library integrates programming, book displays, and special events to complement ArtWalk exhibitions. This provides not only professional development for the featured artists, but also arts education and literacy development for all ages. Or consider the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane, which hosted British artist Stephen Wiltshire while he drew a panorama of the city earlier this month. Hundreds of library-goers were on hand to observe him, ask questions, and simply be in the presence of artistic work in the making.
Not every library can build an exhibition area, and not every library has the space to act as a drawing studio, but every library can provide resources for local artists and writers, and work to connect their communities to the arts. Libraries can offer programs like scary story Halloween writing contests for children and young adults. They can connect with local writers or artists (many of whom who teach at schools and colleges) to host poetry or drawing workshops. They can link to image-rich resources on their websites and promote art and design books to their patrons with book displays and reading lists. No matter the scale, libraries have the capacity to connect their communities to the arts in meaningful ways.
It was no accident that The Library as Incubator Project was born during the massive Wisconsin budget protests of 2011. The state budget was undergoing a significant restructuring, which included substantial cuts to libraries and prominent publicly funded arts organizations. At that point, we started to realize that our grand idea— the idea of promoting the library-as-incubator— might be more than just a pet project for a trio of library school students. We realized that libraries functioning as arts incubators could provide the spaces and materials necessary to sustain the artistic and creative work of writers, illustrators, painters, photographers, poets, playwrights, and performing artists of all kinds when local and state governments took an axe to the arts budget.
With vital programs like poetry fellowships and arts residencies on the chopping block, a library can fill those gaps for artists in the community by proving space to work, collections of inspiring and practical materials, and collaborative support. We saw real potential for libraries to come to the fore as arts incubators in the same way that they have become job-search hubs by providing Internet access, resume workshops, and job search materials for many, many job seekers during this recession.
Librarians and artists of all stripes know that these kinds of partnerships are forming naturally all over the place. At The Library as Incubator Project, we simply hope to offer a “hub” for conversation and communication, and in so doing, promote new and deeper partnerships that will change the answer to our initial question:
What is a library? It’s place to connect and create.
Playing now and forever in The Near-Sighted Monkey Lounge. A toast to the What It Is class!
AT LAST! THE MYSTERY CAN BE REVEALED!
Ladies and Gentlemen
I present to you the students of “What It Is”
University of Wisconsin- Madison Spring 2012
Jason Bischoff —Two of Diamonds
Justin Bitner —Seven of Hearts
Anthony Black —-Two of Hearts
Joey Borgwardt—-Four of Spades
Vincent Cheng —- Five of Clubs
Lydia Conklin —- Eight of Hearts
Laura Damon-Moore —- Two of Clubs
Ebony Flowers—- Seven of Diamonds
Jason Garcia —- Two of Spades
Jason Gray —Five of Spades
Hans Gottsacker — Six of Spades
Allie Koelbl— Four of Clubs
Cecilia Leon —- Three of Diamonds
Tom Loeser— Eight of Spades
Maxwell Love—-Six of Clubs
David Marulli—- Five of Diamonds
Leah Misemer —-Seven of Spades
Mel Nicholas —-Three of Hearts
Leah Portz —- Six of Hearts
Melissa Reiser ——Three of Spades
Angela Richardson —-Four of Hearts
Meridith Beck- Sayre —- Four of Diamonds
Maggie Schafer —-Five of Hearts
Nicholas Stawinski —-Seven of Clubs
Carly Weiman —- Three of Clubs
Dawn Wing —- Six of Diamonds
"It’s all over but the cryin’ "—-but we’ll do that on Tuesday at our Open Book reception
Special thanks to the Five of Diamonds for getting this song on our jukebox. Professor Lynda has listened to it 50,000 times and that is a lot of quarters.
Curious about what the students in the “What It Is” class have been up to? They’ve been making books!
If you want to see ALL 26 books by all 26 students, yes you CAN!
Come to the “OPEN BOOK” reception for the ‘What It Is’ class.
THIS Tuesday! May 15! from 4:30 to 7pm!
Hey! You are invited! OH YES WE MEAN YOU!
Just walk over to the University of Wisconsin -Madison Memorial Union and start asking responsible-looking people behind desks or in kiosks where the “What It Is” class book reception is. Then walk through the sparkly curtains and dig it, man!