Oakland and the Bay Area have long been fertile ground for D.I.Y. and underground artists from a wide range racial and ethnic backgrounds, despite soaring housing costs and increasing wealth disparity and inequity.
Oakland Creates is a 6-year-old community organization that shines a spotlight on some of these artists — particularly creators of comix and zines from communities of color. This Saturday, the organization hosts the Oakland Creates 2021 Virtual Art, Comics and Zinefest from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on YouTube.
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According to founder and organizer Avy Jetter, Oakland Creates was “started in 2015 as a way to provide opportunities for Black and Brown artists to showcase their work in a safe space that not only prioritized African, Indigenous and Latino culture but that celebrates diversity and sought a fair exchange for creativity and artistic experimentation. Oakland Creates developed into a mini zine fest/comix fest showcasing zines, art and comics from new and emerging artists in the East Bay Oakland area. Primarily giving space to traditionally underrepresented voices, Oakland Creates also gives space to creators who work to build a conscious, uplifting and holistic community.”
Here are the bios of one of the presses and four of the artists featured in Saturday’s online festival, provided to Oakland Creates by the creators themselves:
“Dreamt up in 2019 but founded in 2020, Laneha House is a family-run small press that publishes work from Lawrence Lindell, Breena Nuñez and ‘The BAYlies Magazine Comics Anthology.’
“Laneha House is built on the foundation of family, love of comics, zines and coffee. Projects include comics, graphic novels, art books, zines and cartoons.
“It’s pronounced (La.ney.ha).”
“Shani is a spirit chasin’, forest wanderin’ Black womxn who spends a lot time dreaming up new worlds through painting, the written word, and zine-making as a way to heal and transform intergenerational patterns of harm, neglect, self-negation and trauma. Shani’s work is greatly informed by the desire to learn and practice rituals that center the values of African earth-centered spiritual traditions. Shani’s work seeks to unearth what has been buried and pushed aside as a result of assimilation, and honor, celebrate and affirm the ancestral practices that help folks of the African Diaspora to remain grounded and connected to our sacred paths.”
“Whitney Sasaki (she/her/hers) is a fourth generation Japanese American artist, zine maker, activist and podcast producer. She creates works surrounding themes of self-love, rest, relationships, identity and healing. In her work, she aims to create a sense of community by organizing events, virtual workshops and festivals. A California native, Whitney has also been involved in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles art communities as a featured artist, as well as the organizer of Santa Cruz Zine Fest (2016-2018). In fall 2020, she moved to Chicago, where she began to host and produce the ‘Building Communi-Tea’ podcast with one of her closest friends.”
Find Whitney Sasaki’s art on Instagram @whitneykittyart and the “Building Communi-Tea” podcast at https://anchor.fm/buildingcommunitea/episodes/Learning-Languages-e17fkld.
“Malcolm Johnson is an artist interested in horror stories, bringing his take on horror with his comic ‘Tales Of Hoodoo Horror’ and his new web comic ‘Zombies Anonymous.'”
“Avy Jetter writes, draws and self-publishes the comic book series ‘Nuthin Good Ever Happens at 4 a.m.,’ a horror comic set in dystopian Oakland featuring primarily a BIPOC cast of characters fighting their way through hordes of zombies. A huge horror and sci-fi movie fan, she enjoys all things blood and guts, strange and creepy.
“Avy lives and works in Oakland and devotes her time to organizing community events and zine fests such as San Francisco Zine Fest and Oakland Creates. When she isn’t drawing aliens and monsters or just regular folks she self publishes zines about race, culture and Black history.”
Find Avy Jetter’s art and comics online at etsy.com/shop/stormone/.
Oakland Creates 2021 Virtual Art, Comics and Zinefest takes place 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday on YouTube at youtube.com/channel/UClCEgRoQFqg6jA_5fEmxJfQ. The festival can also be accessed via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.