Her home studio in Toronto is fairly small but feels airy because of the large window. It is filled with books, boxes and tools; the walls are covered with sketches and prints of her work and signed drawings by other cartoonists. Here, Marta Chudolinska discusses her work with a quiet confidence, proud of the acclaim it has garnered. Born in Poland in 1984, Chudolinska is a super-powered comics artist. Her woodcut novel Back + Forth, which was published by the Porcupine's Quill in 2009, was nominated for a Doug Wright Award for Canadian Cartooning Best Book, and her autobiographical comics work has appeared in magazines. Some of her more daring work, such as the sex anthology Boom Boom Boom (2012) and zines Scabs and Other Hurts (2011) and No Matter Where You Go (2011), is self-published. In all of her work, Chudolinska uses physically demanding techniques to create her graphic narratives – she has literally spilt blood over her art after accidentally gouging herself with a chisel – and this physicality is part and parcel of her aesthetic.
“I'm excited about working in ways that are really challenging,” Chudolinska explains. “I'm drawn to processes that have a strong sense of physicality – the images produced with relief prints and papercuts both hold some of the energy of the cutting hand and that energy gives the image a special vibrancy.” Like Käthe Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, and Kiki Smith, to name but a few of the visual artists from whom she draws inspiration, Chudolinska challenges herself to experiment with new art forms and new modes of storytelling in diverse styles and media, even those that are slightly outside of her control. She likes the spontaneity of thinking on her feet. “It opens up room for the unexpected in the process and I think that helps me from getting too precise and perfectionist about things. It helps me be more free.”
Chudolinska’s bold autobiographical comics are the subject of The Graphic Life Writing of Marta Chudolinska-An Exhibition. This exhibition of the artist’s work takes place at the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre Gallery from May 7-13, 2015, coinciding with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which brings legions of comics fans to the city each year (last year’s event had 20,000 plus visitors).
“The exhibition builds on a branch of research that is at the forefront of current comics studies, namely, the thriving feminist practice of graphic life writing,” explains Dr. Barbara Postema, the curator of the exhibition. As an innovative comics artist, Chudolinska raises questions of self-representation by artistically translating her personal experiences using artisanal techniques such as papercutting and linocuts. Visitors will be able to see that “there is a tactile quality to her work, which is also deeply personal,” Postema explains.
“We are excited to host this exhibition that explores the intersection of life writing and the comics genre through the work of an upcoming Toronto artist,” says Dr. Irene Gammel, director of the MLC Gallery. “Chudolinkska’s work is both daring and intimate. Her comics are autographical narratives, a bold baring of the self in visual images.”
In the end, Chudolinska believes her work’s appeal lies in its emotional resonance: “There's the sense of trying to understand yourself through stories - taking something painful or incredible and putting it into a form that allows you to understand it better or to process the emotions and memories associated with it.”
The Graphic Life Writing of Marta Chudolinska – An Exhibition
May 7 - 13, 12:00-4:00 PM
Closed Monday, May 11
MLC Gallery, 111 Gerrard Street East, Ground Floor
Exhibition opening with address by Marta Chudolinska
Wednesday, May 6, 6-8 PM.
Refreshments will be served. Chudolinska’s works are for sale at the opening event.
The opening event and the exhibition are free of charge and open to the general public.
For more information, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The exhibition is organized and hosted by the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre as a part of its Advancing Comics Culture Series. It is sponsored by Ryerson’s Faculty of Arts through a Special Events Grant. Other sponsors include the Department of English and Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.