A celebration of independent
media and artistic expression 

As a part of UH Zine Week, a week-long celebration of independent media and artistic expression held at the University of Houston School of Art and founded by Professor Stephan Hillerbrand, the director of the Arts & Technology Center (ATC), the Blaffer Art Museum is hosting "Zine Territory," an exhibition that explores the vibrant world of zines and is curated from the University of Houston Libraries. “As a part of UH Zine Week, I thought it would be great to have an exhibition at the Blaffer Art Museum that showcased the extensive zine collection we have on campus. I approached the Director and Chief Curator of Blaffer Art Museum Steven Matijcio to gauge their interest, and I was delighted by their enthusiastic response.” said Hillerbrand.

Curated by Erica Lee, a graduate student pursuing an MFA in painting at the University of Houston School of Art, "Zine Territory" offers a glimpse into the world of zines, those intimate and self-published creations that served as a means of self-expression and community building before the digital era.

“Because this initiative was to be focused from the bottom up in the same way zine culture works, I wanted to find a student who would be interested. I reached out to Erica Lee Reed because she had recently curated a beautiful exhibition at the Houston Printing Museum and I also discovered she was going to be an entering MFA student. It was a perfect fit,” said Hillerbrand. 

Lee brings a fresh perspective to this exhibit: “Over the past six years, my art practice has evolved thanks to my involvement in and outside of Houston’s local art community. In 2020, I joined the BLOCK Program at the Glassell Studio School. There, the focus in my work shifted to how the individual navigates the disorienting reality of the Post-Internet Age,” says Lee. 

In curating this exhibition, Lee’s expertise and passion for tactile art aim to emphasize the significance of tangibility in our evermore digitized society. Her involvement in the project came after her successful curatorial project, "Book Arts of Houston," which was exhibited at The Printing Museum. This project showcased the enduring legacy of book arts within Houston's artistic community.  

In collaboration with Julie Grob, Coordinator for Instruction, Special Collections at the University of Houston, Lee delved into the extensive zine collection housed within the MD Anderson Library.  

"The zines showcased in ‘Zine Territory’ originate from the cherished Zine Fest Houston Archive, a precious collection that found its home in the UH Special Collections shortly before the untimely passing of Shane Patrick Boyle, a University of Houston alum and founder, torchbearer, historian, and trusted guide of Zine Fest Houston, as eloquently stated by the Zine Fest Houston Organizers in 2017,” said Lee. 

“One of the standout zines, Some Graffiti Found Around Little Rock, Arkansas 2013, offers a vivid glimpse into a stroll taken along a railway line in Little Rock following a zine fair. The meticulously arranged images within its pages evoke a sense of nostalgia, akin to the familiar carousel "posts" we encounter online today. However, unlike these digital "posts" designed for immediate sharing, this zine resides within a more intimate and exclusive social circle, with only a limited distribution of 100 copies in existence. As such, it transforms into a tangible artifact, allowing readers to experience the author's physical presence in a specific time and place, creating a unique connection that transcends the digital realm,” Lee conveyed. 

Some Graffiti Found Around Little Rock, Arkansas 2013 by shane patrick boyle

Some Graffiti Found Around Little Rock, Arkansas 2013 by shane patrick boyle

Julie Grob, a passionate supporter of zines and their role in fostering community and self-expression, oversees the Rare Books Collections, which includes the Zine Fest Houston Collection and other significant zine holdings. 

Grob's personal involvement with zines traces its roots to the early '90s, before embarking on a career as a librarian. During that time, she actively contributed interviews and reviews to a variety of underground music zines. “Zines provide a place for marginalized groups and subcultures to share their ideas with a small network of interested people. There is a thriving zine scene here in Houston,” said Grob. 

As visitors explore "Zine Territory," they'll discover the unique charm of zines and their ability to bring people together, share ideas, and spark creativity. With a nod to the past and a celebration of the present, this exhibition showcases the power of tactile art in a digital age. 

Grob invites all who are intrigued by "Zine Territory" to visit the University of Houston's Special Collections at the MD Anderson Library. The library is open to the public, welcoming both scheduled appointments and drop-in visits. 

From October 17 to November 19, 2023, visitors have the opportunity to view “Zine Territory” at The Blaffer Art Museum and celebrate the tangible allure of self-published works.

UH Zine Week is is funded by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.