Corvallis Social Justice: Queer Zine Workshop, “Han” Artist Talk, Education for Settlers, Solidarity Between Cities

This Friday, Oct. 14, the Oregon State University Pride Center will be hosting a Queer Zine Workshop with Sarah Mirk, a queer, non-binary graphic journalist, editor, zine-maker, illustrator, and adjunct professor in Portland State University’s MFA program in Art and Social Practice. They will introduce attendees to zines and zinemaking, share stories from their work, and discuss the “power that self-publishing holds today”. 

Mirk has created a wide variety of zines ranging from the personal to the educational and political, including an introduction to white privilege, the militarization of police, information about abortion pills and how to access them, their journey to accepting themself as “queer enough” and ever-evolving in their identity, how the pandemic led them to rethink gender and the “performative standards of femininity”, and more. They have also authored “Oregon History Comics”, a 10-volume set of small graphic books – each illustrated by different local artists – that highlight historically overlooked or marginalized stories from Oregon’s past, including Portland’s Black Panthers, the damming of the sacred Celilo Falls, and dead freeways whose construction led to the demolition of city blocks and neighborhoods in Portland.  

“Zines have a real spirit of being anti-authoritarian, anti-corporate and anti-consumerist,” said Mirk in an interview with Comics Grinder. “Zines are about people making something that is authentic to them – and putting it out there in the world. It’s not to sell a product. It’s not to boost their own ego. It’s more a way to try to participate in the world. That’s the spirit of zine-making.” 

“From embodying personal narratives to keeping communities connected,” reads a Pride Center Instagram post on the workshop, “zines are a way to create and explore identity through the creation of a physical object.” 

The workshop will be hosted in the Willamette East Room of the OSU Valley Library, located on 201 SW Waldo Pl, from 2 – 3:30 p.m.; all are welcome to attend. Accommodations related to a disability can be made in advance by sending an email to 

Many of Mirk’s zines and comics can be viewed on their website and are available for free downloaded as PDFs to be used for non-commercial purposes. 

Artist Talk on “Han” Exhibition: Corvallis-based multimedia artist Julianna Souther’s “Asian Misidentification” advocacy project, a series of portraits and handwritten notes of people who have experienced anti-Asian racism, stereotyping, and/or misidentification, is on display as part of a temporary exhibit featuring more of Souther’s work, titled “Han: The Legacy of a Divided Society”. 

The exhibit, which is on display in the South Santiam Hall Gallery at Linn-Benton Community College (LBCC), visualizes the interplay between the personal and the cultural. Through the portraits, cyanotypes, contemporary and historical photographs, and a handmade accordion-style photo album, Souther explores what it means to be “other” in the U.S., as well as her Korean heritage and identity. 

“The history of the people, and country, of Korea includes unimaginable hardships, including the Japanese Occupation, the Korean War, and slavery,” wrote Souther in an artist statement. “Providing a unique channel for describing the consequent feelings, and perceived to be an essential part of the Korean identity, the concept of Han or Haan (한) somehow embodies its history through generational trauma.”  

She suggested that an approximate English translation for the concept of Han might be “the intense emotion of hatred or resentment which is part of every Korean person” as a result of this trauma.  

“‘Han: The Legacy of a Divided Society’ recounts this identity, through historical events as well as issues persisting today, contributing to our journey toward better understanding,” wrote Souther. “The identity of a person is not static or singular, but rather it evolves and enables us to grow into better versions of ourselves, with each passing day and every new experience of self-discovery.” 

An in-person gallery reception and artist talk will be held this Thursday, Oct. 13, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Albany LBCC campus, located on 6500 Pacific Blvd SW. To see more of Souther’s work, check out her website  

Education for Settlers on Indigenous Peoples Day: Oct. 10 marked Indigenous Peoples Day, and Lara Jacobs, a Mvskoke (Creek) and Choctaw Ph.D. student in Recreation Ecology and Chair of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Club at OSU, shared introductory educational content via a Twitter thread for settlers to learn about settler-colonialism, ongoing histories of colonization in the so-called U.S., and the ideologies and value systems European settlers brought with them that continue to shape and inform these histories. 

One of the histories Jacobs touches on in this thread is how America’s creation of national parks and protected areas were weaponized as tools of land dispossession. She notes that many Indigenous peoples view these areas as “products of colonialism” that “increase Indigenous social exclusion and marginalization”, and that were made possible because of the genocidal violences of the “direct expropriation and losses of land custodianship, natural and cultural resources, jurisdiction, and sovereignty” experienced by Tribes. 

Another type of dispossession Jacobs calls attention to is the dispossession of Native bodies and cultural artifacts by universities, museums, and federal agencies through grave theft and desecrations. Academic and research institutions extracted these bodies and artifacts from sacred burial sites and collected them for “study and display.”

“Academia holds hostage over 100,000 bodies of our ancestors, over 750,000 artifacts from our cultures, and many of our languages,” wrote Jacobs in a separate Tweet. “We need a movement that pushes for the rematriation of all of our belongings before we ever consider our readiness to ‘braid’ knowledges.”

Jacobs also highlights other methods of genocide as well as historical and contemporary tools of assimilation. She cites the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, which authorized mass involuntary sterilizations of Indigenous women (as well as Black and Latine women), as reproductive genocide. The forced removal of Indigenous children from their families, communities, and cultural practices existed in the creation of boarding schools – which required assimilation into “western epistemological and ontological norms” and “Judeo-Christian European Hegemonic traditions” – and persist today through child welfare systems, which have historically led to Indigenous children being separated from their homes and forcibly adopted into settler families at disproportionately high rates.  

“Comb through the folks I follow on Twitter and you’ll find hundreds of Indigenous Peoples doing real work on Twitter and not performing for the settler gaze,” wrote Jacobs in a separate Tweet. “We may not play into the stoic, noble, peaceful tropes you want us to be, but we spend time educating folks for free.”  

Read the full thread here.  

Solidarity Between Cities: Mutual aid organizers with the Corvallis Really Really Free Market (RRFM), in addition to distributing helpful resources and information locally, have also been extending their efforts to collaborating with organizers in neighboring cities who have been inspired by their work. One of these organizers is Pablo, a queer, Mixteco activist in Salem who routinely reaches out to houseless communities in their hometown and works with other organizations to deliver requested supplies, a round of which was recently donated by the RRFM.   

Most recently, Pablo committed to amplifying some of the stories and experiences of their unhoused community members in a zine titled “Houseless Voices: Getting to Know Our Neighbors”, which members of Motley Crew Publishing, a Corvallis-based DIY zine, flyer, and sticker poster and distributor, helped them design and print.   

“I have always believed that knowledge is a powerful and useful tool in dismantling systems of oppression, and that is why it is so limited and costly to access for marginalized groups,” said Pablo.   

Their project was also largely inspired by the zine culture in Corvallis, having not seen zines in Salem as widely created or distributed. 

“Being in Corvallis and seeing them used more often definitely encouraged me to try to bring that here in Salem to spread awareness to different issues – especially issues that I am involved with and have the knowledge to write about,” they said. “I also believed words are powerful and can change and move mountains, so using zines to spread the stories of houseless people who are often forgotten and ignored by society I feel could be very beneficial, so that people can get to know the people who are out there struggling and can hear from their own accounts why they’re there. I know not everyone’s mind or perspectives will change – that’s the hard part about advocacy, knowing sometimes the info you put out will be ignored or not widely distributed – but the best part is also knowing that if the info lands on the right person, you can help another person become a comrade.”   

Pablo said they used to work in Corvallis roughly two years ago and maintained connections with local residents who now organize with the RRFM. After seeing an Instagram post on the Really Really Free Film Festival, a collaboration between the RRFM and Corvallis Experiments in Noise, they decided to visit Corvallis and check out the event, which was held at Interzone Café.  

“There I met other organizers and we talked about the different cultures of the cities,” said Pablo. “Overall, just talking to RRFM helps a lot with organizing; it’s cool to see their different approach to organizing and bouncing ideas off of each other helps to figure out ways to plan events. Also, just seeing others do advocacy and organizing keeps me hopeful and driven to continue to do my own work.”  

As for their own organizing efforts and values, Pablo considers queer advocacy as one of the most important aspects for any movement committed to the liberation of marginalized groups.  

“I see that many organizers lack that intersectionality aspect in their own movements and ideologies where they consider queerness as an afterthought to their events and advocacy,” they said. “I, however, have always believed queerness is the blueprint for dismantling systems of oppression and will continue to, as I see queernees as a direct opposition to what we as society currently associate with ‘normal’. Being Indigenous, queer and a person of color, everything I do revolves around the liberation of my people, so I’ve worked with queer groups, immigrant movements, youth movements, etc. I believe in the idea that no one should be left behind in these movements, so I like to focus on that as much as I can.”   

Due to this lack of intersectionality that can be common in different social movements, Pablo said they’ve often felt like they were forced to pick between one identity or the other, and is encouraged to see how a handful of different mutual different groups and movements in Corvallis not only collaborate and emphasize the importance of solidarity at the local level, but try to maintain an intersectional approach in their work as well.  

“I believe solidarity is really important between cities to create a network of change; being able to learn from each other and bounce ideas and encourage each other is incredibly helpful, especially when I know some cities lack the diversity and numbers to create or start their own movements and events due to safety reasons,” they said. “I know Oregon has a huge white population and many cities have a big history of racism, so having solidarity between cities gives some organizers a bit of calmness and security knowing they can reach out to others for advice, numbers, and safety.”   

Copies of Pablo’s zine are available at the RRFM’s Free Store, located in room M252 of the Benton Hall Plaza on 408 SW Monroe Ave.   

By Emilie Ratcliff 

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