obeast book update

I worked on the covers for the books today. Here’s where they stand right now.

The ICA in Portland, Maine is part of the very cool Publication Studio (PS) network, which spans around the US, Canada, and soon Europe. You can learn more about PS here, but the main thing to love about them is that they publish books about art– more specifically, books about my art. Huzzah!

I’m currently writing/finishing a two-volume book set about the obeast project. My goal is to get both books to the printer’s before the end of  October, which means that they could be available as soon as early December–though early 2013 seems likely. The first book will be a complete overview of the North American Obeast from within the narrative of the project. It will describe obeast biology, history, conservation, MOCS, PETNAO (People for the Ethical Treatment of North American Obeasts– a radical activist spin off group of MOCS), and so on. This first book will be an extension of the project itself and, in addition to the text I write, will include two articles written by clever, creative colleagues: Methodist University Religion Professor JR Hustwit is writing about obeasts’ role in religious iconography; Bern Dibner Library archivist/anthropologist Lindsay Anderberg is contributing a snazzy piece about obeast communication. Additionally, my talented friend Michelle Lyon “discovered” (made) an antique children’s obeast doll, which is being added to the MOCS archives and included in the book. And the astounding Derek Toomes is creating old circus paraphanalia about obeasts in menageries.

The second book will locate the obeast project in a cultural, scholarly context through a collection of articles by smarties writing from the places where their current interests intersect with the obeast project. Given that my project incorporates many academic fields, genres, and ideas (including science, cultural identity, satire/hoax/comedy, nature conservation, fat activism, cultural anxiety, feminism, etc), the contributors to this second book represent this range in their backgrounds and topics. Here’s the roster:

  • Chuck Dyke (Philosophy Professor @ Temple University): Chuck teaches a course on “Meaning in the Arts,” in which the class navigates toward an understanding of the roles and modes of contemporary art. For the past couple of years he has included the obeast project in these class discussions; his paper explores both the methodology and results of the work in his class.
  • Marilyn Wann (Fat Activist & Author): I call Marilyn “Queen of the Fatties” because she has blazed important trails in the field of Fat Studies and continues to inspire and encourage the fat community with her many projects. Her book Fat?So! is one of the first fat-positive books I ever read, and is filled with wit and intelligence.
  • Stefanie Snider (Art Historian + Fat & Queer Activist): I first read Stefanie’s work in the amazing Fat Studies Reader, edited by Esther Rothblum and Sandra Solovay. In 2011, Stefanie and I started corresponding for her article “Fatness and Visual Culture: A Brief Look at Some Contemporary Projects,” which appeared in the very first Fat Studies Journal in January of this year. Stefanie is a smarty with some cool insights on my project; I can’t wait to see what she does for this.
  • Jenny Hagel (NYC Comedian & TV Writer): Jenny is hurts-your-face hilarious. She performed with the Second City theater in Chicago and toured with  The Second City National Touring Company, winning awards and accolades as she went. Jenny is one of Go Magazine’s 100 Women We Love,  and currently performing at the Upright Citizen Brigade Theater and PIT Theater in NYC. Even her day job is interesting: she writes for LOGO TV, MTV, and VH1. Last I heard, Jenny was going to write about the role of comedy and satire in activism. Can’t wait!
  • Carl Dyke (Associate History Professor, Methodist University): Carl uses his background in history and sociology to think about (and coerce his students to think about) the dynamics of human motivation, credibility, power, identity, and so on. Carl puts the “C” in Critical Thinking (otherwise it’d just be Ritical Thinking and that wouldn’t make any sense). Sorry other contributors, but Carl Dyke is my favorite. I like him so much that I married him. (Really)
  • Jennifer Denbow (Assistant Political Science Professor, University of New England): I was introduced to Jennifer/Jenny via her humdinger of a dissertation on reproductive autonomy at Berkley a few years ago. She is interested in the intersection of social policy, feminism/human rights, and science (although I suspect I’m oversimplifying). This work is especially poignant given all the current controversy about regulating birth control and abortion. I am really excited to read her article for the book.
  • Rebecca Duclos (Curator, Writer, Art Historian) Rebecca is the person who lured/enticed me to attend graduate school at Maine College of Art. She is intelligent, well spoken, generous, and possibly the busiest person I know. She has just accepted a new position as the Graduate Dean at the School of the Art Instititute of Chicago, and is relocating from Montreal to the windy city as I type. Rebecca is also the best diver I’ve ever seen in person (as in swimming pool, not sky or scuba). You should see her back flip.

Stay tuned for more news and pics as I go!

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