Public Feelings are not Small Potatoes

Micropress collective helps people connect and self-reflect 

Credit: 
Graphic by Brigid Goulem

Art is never just Small Potatoes for Kingston’s zines. 

On Jan. 8, Small Potatoes— a micropress collective, made up of Michelle Bunton, Gabriel Cheung, Ella Gonzales and Carina Magazzeni—hosted a zine making workshop called “Public Feelings” in Union Gallery to tackle the stigma around negative feelings like embarrassment and fear of failure.  

“Part of the Public Feelings project is to try to de-pathologize so-called negative feelings by thinking about them in other ways. That’s what we were trying to enact by collectively making a zine, while also basing it on individual experiences,” Cheung said. 

While the group typically works with local artists to develop its work, the Small Potatoes team wants to facilitate more workshops for students and other inexperienced artists.  

The collective similarly grew from a shared desire to support other artists within the group’sown community. 

Taking it’s name from the idiom, “it’s just small potatoes,” the group pushes back against the idea that any project—no matter how small—is irrelevant. 

“We think that there’s this real, magical, joyful power in small projects,” said Magazzeni. 

Bunton saw this zine’s power when it started to bring attendees together and out of their comfort zones. 

Small Potatoes created a space in the middle of Union Gallery where their guests were able to work through their personal feelings comfortably, working to celebrate and de-stigmatize negative individual feelings in the comfort and safety of the group. 

The collective asked the participants before the workshop to bring an object that sparked any deep feeling or to be prepared to share a story or memory that did the same. 

While nobody was required to share with the group, the collective noticed its guests’ nerves ease as they shared experiences and connected with each other. 

All eight participants were given the opportunity to design their own page in what would become a 12-page zine, with the four members of Small Potatoes making up the other pages. 

“We found throughout the course of the workshop, people became more open, and started sharing both what they were doing and the feelings they had surrounding the workshop,” Bunton said. 

As people worked on their individual pages, the conversation about the items they brought, or the stories they shared, began to flow more comfortably.

“A lot of it started with technical sharing and collaboration, which then led to opening themselves up and being a little more vulnerable with the person beside them,” Bunton said. “People were engaging together. I think there’s a physical element in sharing that then turned into a more emotional or conceptual element of sharing.” 

The final product was titled “Public Feelings,” as everybody in the group agreed this encapsulated the experience in the workshop. 

As they worked on the zine, participation worked out their own perception of negative feelings. The zine allowed the participants to question why their feelings of depression, anxiety, and public embarrassment were inherently negative. 

Acting as an informal therapy session, the workshop helped participants to overcome these feelings’ negative connotations and learn how to look at them in a new light. 

 “We are so happy with how it turned out,” Magazzeni said. “It was so beautiful.” 

Corrections

January 13, 2019

This article incorrectly spelt one of the organizer's names. It is Ella Gonzales, not Gonzalez.

The Journal regrets the error.

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