When the Going gets Tough, the Tough get Arty...
On Monday, April 3, 2006, I began working for Arlington County as Director of Libraries. The difference between that day and this one could not be more stark. Back then, I had just retired from the Library of Congress and was looking forward to serving the community I grew up in. Today, our community is in the grip of a global pandemic, the long term effects of which can only be guessed at. Libraries and parks are closed, schools are empty as parents juggle home schooling careers. Church services are virtual, theaters dark. Graduations are cancelled; birthday parties Zoomed. And Metro stations are shuttered as phrases like social distancing and acronyms like PPE enter the vernacular.
But when the going gets tough, the tough get arty and Arlington Public Library is pleased to present the inaugural issue of “Quaranzine,” a weekly magazine of art, poetry, comics, photos, short ￼fiction, even tutorials and “how-tos.” The zine is headed by a staff editorial board of Katelyn Attanasio, Brit Austin, Hannah Axt, Ruth Compton, Clea Counts, Deborah Khuanghlawn, Liz Laribee, Janelle Ortiz, Peg Owen, and Alex Zealand.
Zines, popular from the 1980’s through the early 1990’s, are small publications created by an individual or group. Handwritten, photocopied, hand-drawn, collaged, they can boast a DIY aesthetic or be highly stylized and released digitally. “Quaranzine” will likely be a mix of both. This first issue is comprised of submissions from County staff; hereafter we invite submissions from the community.
Artists get active in times of turmoil. Think Picasso’s “Guernica” or Brecht’s “Mother Courage.” (Okay, those examples may be a bit dark.) But we look to artists to make sense of the senseless, to be beacons of light in dark times, to document our days to keep us from forgetting. Not all submissions to “Quaranzine” need be deep or heady. They just need to be and to be shared with others. To sustain our community and bolster our connections to one another when we need them most.
I hate to use phrases like the “new normal” because there is nothing about this situation that is normal. It just is. Our hope is that “Quaranzine” will make what “is” a little easier. For all of us.
Stay safe, stay well and stay hopeful.
Arlington Public Library