Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A'misa Chiu at Gridlords XV// The Waypost

A'misa Chiu performed for Gridlords XV (an experiemental comics showcase) this 
past Saturday.  She presented her on-going fictional story of the lost Rabbits of Kelfersah,
written in conjuction with The Undeniables Writer's Workshop.  It was her Portland 
debut.  It was a great turnout! Much thanks for Gridlords organizers Sean Christensen
and Emily Nilsson!

I see on your FB page that you are expecting a proof from your printer, could this be the long-awaited Eyeball Burp? What will this issue contain? 

Yes! It really has been far too long since an issue of Eyeball Burp has come out. This issue “Clip or Copy” is a surreal collection of collage art, both tradition cut-and-paste and digital collage. It was a frightening thing to step out of the zine-making process and have the issue printed and bound. It felt as if I no longer had control of the whole process, and because of the adult content in EBB, we almost thought the printer was going to reject the issue.

How many issues of E.B. have there been so far? What’s the evolution of this zine been like since the first one came out? 

“Clip or Copy” is the 7th issue of EBB; the first one was published in 2008 and on Microsoft Word! If you looked at this new issue, and you look at the first one, you wouldn’t even think it was of the same series. It’s because Eyeball Burp has always been my own personal narrative of experimenting and learning what zine making was all about. It was a process of playing with layout, trying to write, and an attempt to publish friend’s art and writing. The few issues were actually a response to the Asian American arts and culture magazine Giant Robot. Now days, issues are more art-focused though. Alex, my husband and co-editor, and I try to stay true to the artwork that is exciting to us, the weirder, the more surreal, the more intense, the better.

Around the 4th one, we received a harsh review and it was honestly rough to keep publishing zines. But even if the reviewer hated EBB, it forced me to believed in zine making as a form of freedom. No zine is too horrible to not exist. I am a firm believer in freedom of speech and anti-censorship. To me, good or bad doesn’t matter, what matters is that someone decided to create.
Last year you were working on a novel for Novel Writing Month - did you ever finish it? 

Writing for me is very cathartic, and I was shocked on where my ideas went when I was writing marathon-style, which really is what NaNoWriMo is. I finished a first draft on my novel, but to be honest, when I began my second draft, I realize that the narrative was jumpy. So, it’s on the chopping block. It is a story of the surrealism of dreams.
I’ve noticed that rabbits appear in a lot of your artwork, do they have a special symbology for you?
When I was younger, my family would go camping at the Pismo Beach Sand Dunes. Back then before local naturalists began to plant native plants to decrease erosion, the sand dunes were huge pits of pure white sand. My childhood friends and I would run around, hiding in cool ditches to get out of the sun, and pretend we were wild animals. I was always a white rabbit. I guess the rabbit was my power animal since I was little.
Because I was born near Easter, my first pets were Easter bunnies, one white, and one black. Two were named Bunny Love, I and II, and Friends Forever, a grey one. I liked their big floppy ears and the silent twitching nose. I was a quiet, shy kid, with big bucked teeth, who liked to run around, so being a bunny wasn’t a big stretch to who I was. Writing about rabbits is me remembering what it was like to be a kid again.
As an artist and writer, how have you found it different living in Portland after moving from L.A?
Well, Portland is the land of interesting artwork, good produce, clean air, and open conversation. And I’ve had a few decent burritos here. But more so, I appreciate the space that Portland provides me to explore my own art and writing. In L.A. I was always occupied, and as much as I love my family and friends that I grew up with, few understood how much time, mostly alone time, that it takes to produce good work. So Portland is my time to ‘go underground,’ to gather a body of art and writing that I can turn into publication. Also, I hope to get involved with Women of Color Zine Symposium that PSU hosts annually. That would be life giving for me.
Do you have any gallery shows coming up? 

Nothing planned right now. I’d love to do more painting, and am planning to do more open mics around town. Eyeball Burp will be at Portland Zine Symposium too.
What kinds of performance pieces have you been involved in? Do you have any projects that you are working on with Alex? 

My favorite performance that I did was “Pigeon Lady: Feeding Time” performance. It was through the LA Road Concerts: Sunset Blvd edition. Each year, LA Road Concerts takes over a street in Los Angeles. All day long artists busk their performances. I took over a vacant theatre-front with 30-or-so stuffed and painted pigeons. In a six-hour shamanistic dance I tried to invoke and call to the pigeons to intermingle with the stuffed ones. Unfortunately not one pigeon came, and in retrospect I should have had out buckets of French fries instead of birdseed.
I might be making a cameo in Alex’s current project, Marsuplala. I like making masks and costumes. The other day, we dressed up in our paper mache painted head masks, and went on a run down Foster Road. It was hilarious to run by the local bars and even more hilarious that not many people were fazed by it. People try so hard to not be fazed; I like pushing people to respond.

Now that you are in graduate school, are you able to find time to work on your personal projects? What are you working on now? 

I’m currently getting my Master’s of Library and Information Science and it’s been pretty awesome! I love theory (I was an art history and theory major in undergrad), and love how amazing liberal the history of librarianship is. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to find time to do art, but I also can’t imagine going two whole years and not work on anything. Actually, I want to do more perzines, just full of lists of things I like and don’t like, weird movies I’ve seen, book reviews, pickle recipes, etc.
How do you think being in school will shape the kinds of creative work you plan to do?
I’m interested in seeing how my research on the archives and zines made by people-of-color will play out. I don’t want my research to exist in a vacuum, and I feel as if I’m not making zines while doing research on zines, then I’m kind of a fraud. It seems that my library colleagues are super open and fun loving, and very experimental in presenting research. So I see my creativity having somewhat of an outlet. Maybe do a library-based comix, with a rabbit librarian archivist who maintains a collection of ancient mystical tomes? But who knows. ; )