Long before the pandemic, before Zoom was part of the vocabulary of so many, I Am Why existed in virtual space. Our work is rooted in in-person workshops where we partner with organizations focused on young people with lived experiences pushing for systemic change. In between the in-person workshops, though, I Am Why has always navigated the challenge of how to connect, how to collaborate, and how to build in virtual space. How to create a physical piece of collaborative artwork is perhaps the most challenging in virtual space. While creating the cover for I Am Motherhood: The Manifesto zine, we approached this challenge with the DIY, low-tech, old-school vibes that zines originated from.
In the summer of 2022, Alondra and Samantha started visioning what the first zine of the Motherhood Support Team was going to look like. Alondra was drawn to the look of line drawings and sent Samantha some examples of what direction she thought we should go in. Samantha took her inspiration from Alondra’s examples and created a mock-up of a cover from photographs of all the mothers that would be featured in our zine. It looked great but needed something more. The cover needed the feel of many different hands, needed all the mamas to be involved to truly capture what we were trying to do with our zine.
We mailed every mama a printout of the photo they wanted, clear vellum tracing paper, a thin sharpie, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to mail their drawing back to us. To save time and postage, we could have had each mama print their own photo and take a photograph and email us the image of their line drawing, but bringing the physicality of mail art into the zine process felt right. During one of our weekly calls, we demonstrated how to create a line drawing, and everyone created their own. The finished cover is a combination of all these drawings of us mamas and our kids printed in risograph at Risolana during our first-ever Motherhood Support Group retreat in New Mexico. We plan to have all of our zine covers follow this line-drawing process. Stay tuned…
– Lauren Adelman I Am Why Advisor