At the end of 2020, local artist Carolyn Swiszcz hosted an online artist talk to share the story behind the West St. Paul editions of her Zebra Cat Zebra zine. What’s a zine? It’s a small, self-published booklet.
With the support of a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, Swiszcz created three zines about West St. Paul. One focused on the former Signal Hills mall, another on Granny Donuts, and a third on various places of interest around West St. Paul.
Here’s her half-hour talk on YouTube, where she explains her artistic approach, the process of creating the zines, and reads the Signal Hills zine:
We asked Swiszcz a couple quick questions about her work:
What prompted you to write zines about West St. Paul?
Though I have been interested in making art about where I live for a while, I was especially moved by a visit to Orchard House, the home of author Louisa May Alcott in Concord, Mass. She put so much of her life into her Little Women books. It was amazing to see the inspiration for her work throughout the house and to visit the cemetery where she is buried. She grew up around writers like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I think the Twin Cities in general is a great place for art, but I realized I could do more to make my own little corner of town more interesting by writing about it, getting to know others, and being more active in the community.
What’s next for Zebra Cat Zebra? Will we see more West St. Paul stories?
I’m cutting back from six issues to three this year and I’m not sure what I’ll write about yet. So much is happening now that what might seem relevant this week might not seem to fit in a couple months when I’ll send out the next issue.
I started a big separate project to make a longer illustrated book, a memoir about my middle school years in Massachusetts. I’m still in the painful/exciting early stages of figuring out what that will be. I hope to continue my regular zine giveaways at Amore this year and do at least one event or project at the art park.
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