Graphic Details exhibit opens in Toronto
Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, has been getting some great press and publicity at JWA lately – and on the Canadian and Toronto news scenes. I took the streetcar to West Queen West this past Sunday to check out the exhibit on its opening weekend. Curators Sarah Lightman and Michael Kaminer were both present, and a small but steady flow of visitors wandered through four rooms in an upstairs gallery at the Gladstone Hotel to see the installations featuring the work of new and established Jewish women artists.
One of the most exciting parts of the show is that nearly all of the work presented is original. For those of us, like myself, who are not experienced comic artists, seeing how a strip or page comes together through a revision and editing process is an enlightening experience. In some of the sketches, you can see where text has been changed or revised, panels reformed, or figures redrawn. Many are on display for the first time, and the comics themselves are complemented by a few painted works by the same artists, like Miss Lasko-Gross and Miriam Libicki. As Lightman points out, looking at comics as visual art enables a different perspective from viewing comics as literature, and the exhibit facilitates this transition in an excellent way.
Kaminer was providing a guided tour of the exhibit during my visit, so I took my first trip through the show’s four rooms under his leadership. The rooms all center upon different themes: Jewish identity and Israel; Sh*t Happens; Love and Relationships; and a fourth room, which was temporarily under repair during my visit. The comics are often political, frequently hilarious, and occasionally cringe-worthy. By definition, all are self-reflexive. While many of the comics are concerned with Jewish issues, others are ‘Jewish’ only because their authors identify as such. One of my personal favourites came from London, UK artist Corinne Pearlman, whose weekly comic is called “Playing the Jewish Card.” Titled “Losing the Plot,” it looked at a group of Jewish people en route to and attending a funeral, and all of the other items that grab their attention in the meantime. It was eerily reminiscent of my own family, where a conversation can go in twenty different directions before someone remembers that the conversation began because of a decision that had to be made.
For those in Toronto, this exhibit is definitely one I’d recommend (plus it’s free!), ideally paired with dinner or an afternoon coffee and pastry at the restaurants and cafes that are peppered nearby. You can also find out more about the special events presented by the Koffler Gallery in conjunction with the exhibit in March and April. It runs in Toronto until April 17.