As of recently, the gender, sexuality and women’s studies program (GSWS) at Montclair State University announced that it is in the process of making a collaborative zine with the help of students.
A zine, historically known as a small-circulated magazine showcasing creativity of all kinds, has since symbolized the encouragement of unfiltered, honest and raw voices to be heard that are typically not associated with mainstream media outlets. Throughout ages, zines have acted as powerful statements in regards to feminism and queer voices, impacting social movements while maintaining a sense of community.
The new collaborative zine with students will showcase GSWS talent and encourage student voices regarding fashion, photography, manifestos to written pieces and artwork, along with any kind of submission regarding GSWS such as movies, playlists and more.
Dr. Jessica Restaino, the director of the GSWS program, spoke on the importance of the zine and how impactful she believes it will be to the program.
“I’m looking forward to the ways that this project will embody and forward the mission of the program,” Restaino said. “That it will be a space for not only diversity but freedom of expression, I think it is going to be a deeply intersectional project. In many ways, it will celebrate and hold queerness also at its center. The zine itself is a pastiche, it’s a physical rendering, you copy, and cut and paste and assemble it. It has this activist history. It’s not supposed to be necessarily clean, it can be nonlinear.”
Restaino continued, expressing the passion within the voices that lie behind each page of the zine.
“The thing I find very moving about the zine is it’s a construction and that matters, because it’s an invitation to construct yourself,” Restaino said. “I think for so many of us we had the experience of functioning inside of someone else’s construction. This is about taking something apart, putting it back together, newly, differently, radically and I think that’s part of the beauty of the project.”
Restaino credits the creative brains behind the project to Nina Farley and Jonah Schwartz, noting that they brought the idea to her attention in hopes of inspiring new students within the GSWS program and campuswide.
“When they said they wanted to do a zine I was moved, it feels like a generational bridge for me,” Restaino said.
Schwartz, a recent Montclair State University alumni who worked as an intern for GSWS, expressed how they think the zine can reach all kinds of audiences.
“There’s a lot more freedom with content and more range that can be encapsulated into this project because students can come together and sort of write or make art about their own experiences,” Schwartz said. “There’s no kind of central thing that we have to meet. It’s just a community coming together and I’m hoping that this project will foster more community in the GSWS program as well as other programs, we’re hoping to kind of unite.”
Schwartz also continued on their inspiration behind the idea and how it grew from their own experience at Montclair State.
“Coming to this school is where I went with this, like coming to this school as a freshman and seeing that there’s a program with this zine with all of these different queer and POC and different intersectional voices would’ve been really important for any person who feels any of those experiences to see,” Schwartz said. “It would’ve made them feel safer in our school and more excited about their education. I feel like that was what I was lacking.”
Farley, a junior psychology major who works as an intern for GSWS, expressed how they think the zine allows for more freedom of expression among a college community and how that can be a positive.
“These stories are deeply personal and I hope that readers are able to see themselves in these stories and be able to see that I am in a school where people have similar experiences to me or experiences that I want to learn more about and I don’t think you find that everywhere,” Farley said.
Farley also expressed how they hope the zine inspires readers.
“First that they learn something different but also that they’re inspired to seek out old zines or other zines that are happening now,” Farley said. “There’s so much to be learned from zines so I really hope that will inspire readers to seek out different educational avenues.”
Gabriel Gomez, a senior theater studies major, expressed their thoughts on the new collaborative zine with students.
“It’s magnificent,” Gomez said. “It’s great that we are going to see queer imagination come alive. We are all everywhere and it’s important for us to have this outlet. I want to see something that will make me cry and laugh.”
Gomez also expressed their encouragement of other artists and looks forward to seeing a widespread of creativity shine through the zine.
“I am an artist and I love seeing other artists shine through,” Gomez said. “It makes me happy to open it and see all of these stories. We are amplifying queer creative expression and it’s important to show our voices through this zine.”
More information on the zine and the GSWS program can be found on Instagram @gsu_msu.