Saddened and frustrated by the tragedies and inequities of COVID-19, a group of Visual Communication Design students printed a magazine of their artistic responses to the federal government’s response.
Bleach, published in May before the nationwide protests against police brutality began, features contributions from 12 undergraduate and graduate students. In the foreword, Assistant Professor Ellen Christensen described the project as a vehicle for anti-racism.
“The embrace of white poison by racists and nationalists is fundamentally ironic, given the long history of racist and colonialist associations of whiteness with purity,” she wrote. “Both incomprehensibly violent, and fundamentally bizarre, this current political moment necessitates subversive tactics.”
The magazine’s first print run sold out; new copies are at the printer. It may be purchased through Bleach’s Venmo account. All proceeds go to charity. A $10 donation goes to the Partnership with Native Americans’ Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund. All donations above $10 will be given to The Bail Project.
Graduate student Mena Kamel developed the magazine in Jane Rabanal’s Design Management class after feeling frustration and discomfort when the crisis hit. As he learned of friends and family testing positive, he scrapped plans for another class project to instead self-publish something that would offer agency to him and his peers.
Citing a lack of attention being given to disproportionately high COVID-19 infection and mortality rates among Native Americans, Kamel said he believed a magazine would expand awareness of inequity issues.
“I’d already been feeling untethered during the transition to online learning and, like everyone, my world got turned upside down pretty quickly,” said Kamel, who will graduate in 2021. “I was spending all my time on theoretical solutions to this massive moment, and that felt so disconnected from what was/is happening in my personal life.”
Kamel said he is grateful for the compassion of his peers, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
“Many of my peers/contributors have lost their jobs, family members and housing, yet have stayed in school, organized with me and donated their work for this direct action,” he said.