Drawing Us Together: Public Life and Public Health in Contemporary Comics Opening
In this opening discussion for the exhibition Drawing Us Together: Public Life and Public Health in Contemporary Comics, cartoonists and scholars Hillary Chute, Joel Christian Gill, and James Sturm will discuss comics and their ability to tell stories across time, experience, and identity.
The global pandemic and recent movements for racial justice have tested public and private institutions in this country; our sense of collective wellbeing; and familial, social, and civic lives. Drawing Us Together: Public Life and Public Health in Contemporary Comics explores these challenges and the interconnectedness of contemporary public life and public health through the medium of comics. Authors and artists share a range of stories across time, experience, and identity through the interplay among images and words.
Hillary Chute is Distinguished Professor of English and Art + Design at Northeastern University. She is the author or editor of six books, including Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere (Harper, 2017), Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form (Belknap Press, 2016), Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists (University of Chicago Press, 2014), and Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics (Columbia University Press, 2010). She has written for venues including Artforum, Bookforum, the Village Voice, and the New York Review of Books. Her collection Maus Now: Selected Writing is forthcoming from Pantheon in 2022. She is a comics and graphic novels columnist for the New York Times Book Review.
Joel Christian Gill is a cartoonist and historian who speaks nationally on the importance of sharing stories. He is the inaugural chair of Boston University’s master of fine arts in visual narrative and the author of the acclaimed memoir Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence, cited as one of the best graphic novels of 2020 by the New York Times and for which Gill was awarded the 2021 Cartoonist Studio Prize. He wrote the words and drew the pictures for Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride and the award-winning graphic novel series Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, as well as three volumes of Tales of The Talented Tenth, which tell the stories of Bass Reeves, Bessie Stringfield, and Robert Smalls. He is currently at work on the graphic novel of Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Ten Speed Press, 2023), and CNN journalist Don Lemon’s Young Adult graphic memoir Fitting In (Penguin Random House, 2024).
James Sturm is the cofounder and director of the Center for Cartoon Studies. He is editor of CCS’s graphic guide series, and his writings and illustrations have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate, the Paris Review, the Onion, the New York Times, and the cover of the New Yorker. His comics address issues of faith, race, and American identity. His graphic novel Off Season (Drawn and Quarterly, 2019) explores the intersection of the personal and political against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election. Sturm was the 2020–2021 Mary I. Bunting Institute Fellow at Harvard Radcliffe Institute fellow and a 2008 and 2015 MacDowell Colony fellow.