Lynda Barry: An Interview

2010 | 00:50:57 | United States | English | Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Interviews

Tags: Feminism, Health, Humor, Interview, VDB Interviews, Visiting Artists Program

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In this interview, American cartoonist and author Lynda Barry (b. 1956) describes the philosophy of teaching that has inspired and mobilized her art since the 1970s. For Barry, the connection between gesture and thought collide in drawing and expose the therapeutic possibilities of art. Whether teaching undergraduate art students or prison inmates, her goal is to help others develop art making skills as an “external immune system” that will protect and monitor their emotional and mental health.

By offering anecdotes from her childhood in Wisconsin, where she grew up in an interracial household, and sharing stories from the 1970s alternative paper movement, Barry provides unique insight into the contexts that inform her popular and idiosyncratic cartoons. She playfully explains how a range of eclectic interests, including brain science, hula dancing, and Chinese brushwork, honed her subject matter and tone over time. At the time of the interview, Barry’s recent work had taken a new route: local politics in Wisconsin (specifically the consequences of wind turbine technology on rural families, and the related development scams).

Barry is currently Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She continues to be considered as a pioneering force in the field of comics, and a role model for women cartoonists breaking into the previously male-dominated field.

– Faye Gleisser

Interview conducted by Anne Elizabeth Moore in November of 2010, edited in 2014.