Classroom Spotlight

Zines, Artists’ Books, and Experimental Printmaking

Scripps College, Summer 2020
Professor Tia Blassingame

Student: Kesi Jackson

The End of the Rainbow is Power
Tony McDade. Oluwatoyin Salau. Say their names: In this book within a book, Kesi Jackson has created a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece. The Black Lives Matter inset protest poster features pochoir-printed fists and the colors of the Transgender Pride flag and the LGBT Pride, or rainbow, flag set against the matte black paper.

Artist Statement: "Tony McDade (he/him), the first person seen in my book, was murdered by the Tallahassee police on May, 27th. His death was one of many trans lives lost this year and illustrates the need to protect Black trans bodies and gender non-conforming people and create a culture of acceptance around varying gender identities."

How We Get Free: honouring Combahee River Collective and Black lesbians that inspire my activism

In How We Get Free, Kesi Jackson employs the accordion book form, pochoir-printed protest chants, and colorful blotted line patterns to immerse the reader/viewer in the energy and sounds of a Black Lives Matter protest while expressing love and solidarity for present-day activists and connecting to a long history of activism in Black communities. When the book is fully extended, a figure with raised hands and another pointing a gun at the first figure become painfully apparent. BLM is stamped across the reverse of the book, and leads to an interactive heart-shaped colophon that unfurls as the pull tab is engaged.

1. Was there anything you can mention about what was said by the artists and curators with whom you met and what they showed you that inspired you or contributed in some way to your book?

The Honnold Library special collection visit really emphasized the spectrum of content that one can include in their printmaking process, and seeing other book artists create art around a specified topic or political issue really helped me solidify how I wanted to portray my work. Justseeds artist’s cooperative also inspired me to make political artwork and the innovative, empathetic bookmaking aligned with how I wanted to be oriented in the content of this book. This is a very tumultuous time in Tallahassee, and I wanted to honor my own grief around the deaths of Oluwatoyin Salau and Tony McDade, while also uplifting the politics of supporting Black and Trans lives.

2. Can you say anything about the subject of your book? What led you to that subject? If this was what was on your mind (even obsessing you), did the concept of a book, its possible structure, etc., lead you in any way to exploring it?

The End of the Rainbow is Power
I have spent a lot of time attending protests and vigils this summer around Black Lives Matter in Tallahassee. I was outraged after a series of police brutality and negligence that has resulted in the loss of Black lives in my hometown, and wanted to create a book that provided space for me to turn my grief over the deaths of Mychael Johnson, Tony McDade and Oluwatoyin Salau. Creating this book was a way for me to express my sorrow in a way that could provide beauty and joy around the collectivity of protesting and organizing that this loss of life has incited. I wanted the book to be interactive, and the pull-out poster is convertible into a small protest sign that included the Black power fist with the non-binary pride flag and trans pride flag.

How We Get Free: honouring Combahee River Collective and Black lesbians that inspire my activism
For my final book, How We Get Free, I wanted to make a book of protest chants that could be utilized at an event in town. I was focused on making a book that would feel good in someone’s hands - that combined the urgency of this movement with the fun in solidarity that I’ve experienced while protesting which is why I included pochoir tie-dye pages and energetic printed text layouts.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software