Lighthouse Zine Project

I recently completed a zine-making project with the art class I teach for visually impaired teenagers at the Lighthouse International. A zine is a DIY homemade magazine. Our zines consist of drawings, writing, photocopied collage, Braille, and lots of John Mayer jokes.

This project was great for my students because it offered a wide range of expression: students could draw or write, and those with no vision (my students have a wide range of visual impairments) could type in Braille. We typed Braille on sheets of transparent adhesive paper. This see-through paper could then be affixed directly into the zine – even over top of printed writing or a drawing!

I’d like to share a poem that is printed in Braille inside certain issues of the zines. This poem is titled ‘Oh Sweet Silver Lark’ and it’s written by a very talented high school student named Jasmine. I had students who read Braille read this poem aloud in several classes as it’s very moving and I thought everyone should hear it. A lark is a singing bird.

Oh Sweet Silver Lark
a poem by Jasmine

Oh sweet silver lark
Come sing me a song
But only on a day all people get along
Oh sweet silver lark
Come fly me away
But let my soul not be burned by the sun’s evil rays
Oh sweet silver lark
Who sits in my tree
Oh please, just for once
Can you listen to me?
I wish for a day that we all come to peace
Like a sweet baby bird in an evergreen wreath
Oh sweet silver lark
Come sing me a song
When all people get along.

People see the zine above and say, “The monkey’s upside down!” But clearly that’s the best part.

Inside the two zines above, you’ll find satirical ads for a women’s fragrance called ‘Wrinkly’ and a snack for zombies called ‘Zombie Grits’ (“Made with real human!”).

I always wanted to make a zine when I was in high school, but the kids that were into zine culture were badass punk rock kids (or so I thought at the time) so I always felt that I wasn’t allowed to make one because I didn’t have enough zine street cred or some similar absurd esoteric concept. So this project was a lot of fun for me as well as the kids. The one concept I repeated to them ad infinitum was DIY: do it yourself. We do not have the budget or production abilities of Rolling Stone but we can make a magazine that is cooler in many ways. Especially when you’re a kid, it’s important to understand that you have to make creative things happen yourself, no matter what the limitations are. That idea can be a liberation and a blessing.

The ‘Robozine’ has a multiple choice quiz in the center called ‘What kind of robot are you?’ Questions include “When you go to the beach what do you feel like doing?” [answer choices: (a) Cleaning up after people (b) Making the beach all dirty (c) Making food for people] At the end of the quiz, you find out whether you’re an Earthobot, an Eatobot, or a Destroyobot.

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