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“Antifragile” Creators Seek to Empower the Underrepresented Through Art

“We’re having a bit of a struggle,” said Macey Keung as she tossed aside a broken package. Keung is a former Berkeley High School (BHS) student and soon-to-be University of California San Diego (UCSD) freshman. Miumi Shipon was seated next to Macey, concentrating strenuously on stuffing a zine into an envelope. Shipon is a junior in Academic Choice (AC). The two were sitting amongst a mess of boxes and paper on the floor of a sunlit room. While searching for another envelope, Keung began to explain how the envelopes she and Shipon had ordered from eBay turned out to be the exact same size as the zines. They had been struggling to keep the envelopes from bursting but were not about to give up. The next day, they were going to drive to each customer’s door to drop off orders.

Both Shipon and Keung are extremely passionate about art. Shipon works on mixed media and Keung is majoring in specialty design when she attends UCSD in the fall. The two became friends over the summer break. They had been following each other on Instagram before school went virtual but had not spoken before. Toward the end of May, Shipon posted a story on her Instagram account about wanting to create an artist collective. Keung vividly recalled reading it. “I had just gotten out of the shower and was in my towel, scrolling through Instagram when I saw Miumi’s story,” Keung said. “My mind started racing with all these ideas. I [texted Miumi saying], ‘Miumi, I think that this could be great. I have so many ideas; would you be willing to work with me?’” Within an hour, they met on a Zoom call and immediately set to work on constructing a list of possible topics, creating color palettes, and working on a website for their zine.

Zines are independently-published collections of work that are normally produced by an individual or a small group of people. The word “zine” is simply a shortened version of the word “magazine.” When Shipon and Keung were developing ideas for their zine, they knew that they wanted to highlight “youth marginalized, underrepresented voices,” especially women. Before starting this huge project, Shipon had left an abusive relationship. “I had wanted to do things that were meaningful to me, but my partner was very demeaning and looked down on my creative direction,” said Shipon. Working on the zine “was just as much self-empowering as it was a collaborative project that was really healing to me as a survivor of abuse and for my focus on art.”

When they started brainstorming potential names for their project, Keung brought up a conversation she had had with someone four years before. The conversation was about the idea of being ‘antifragile.’ “As humans, we are not always robust and perfect but more like records that break over and over again,” said Keung. “We learn, reform, and heal from our mistakes.” The word ‘antifragile’ perfectly reflected the purpose of the zine. It also countered the concept that women are supposed to be delicate, and soon became the zine’s title.

Shipon and Keung are both Asian-American. Shipon is part Japanese, and Keung identifies as Chinese-American. Growing up, they noticed a lack of cultural representation in the environments they were in. Shipon observed that her art classes were taught through a narrow Eurocentric lens. “I’ve had very little experience connecting with art on a cultural level. When I listen to other Japanese-American artists, I feel so listened to but I haven’t had that same connection with visual art,” Shipon said. Keung agreed that the majority of today’s media consumption is viewed through a Eurocentric lens. “Growing up, I’ve felt so disconnected to my Asian side and I wouldn’t say that I have found that yet,” said Keung. Shipon and Keung believe that they have an opportunity to expose more colorful and diverse voices through Antifragile’s work.

As they culminated their plans for the zine, Shipon and Keung sent out applications asking for writers and artists. They received a flood of entries and gathered their team to decide on who would make the cut. “We wanted to make sure that we loved every single thing one hundred percent. We want everything we do to have a purpose,” said Shipon. Keung explained how they wanted the issue to feel like “Gen Z’s diary.” It is comprised of multiple sections, each with its own theme. A few themes include heartbreak, racial identity, and gender identity. “The art is supposed to correlate with the writing and each page is a different story by a different person. We really wanted to do the writer justice when telling their story,” said Shipon.

So far, Antifragile has received over one hundred and fifty orders for the first issue. As for the second issue, Shipon and Keung are planning on tackling more specific genres and preparing to open applications for new artists. “It feels amazing to make something that you put your heart and soul into and get such positive responses from other artists that we love and respect,” said Shipon. “Just to hear that people connect to our work is a dream come true.”

To learn more about Antifragile, check out Miumi & Macey’s website and Instagram:

https://www.antifragilezine.com/

@antifragile.zine

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