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Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Month: March 2022

Weird Art (and How to Make It)!

In a world of incredible mainstream artists like Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh, some of the stranger, funnier, and more relatable creatives can be left flying under the radar. It can also make it more difficult for us – the artistic hoi polloi –  to find our own style and way of creating.

Perhaps you could be inspired by Tomislav Jagnjić, a Serbian concept artist and illustrator whose oeuvre includes titles such as “hey psst, wanna buy some cubes” and “can’t believe u forgot the scrolls, how am i supposed to resurrect the dragon now?”

Or maybe you could innovate like Thirza Schaap, a Dutch artist who’s been revamping beach trash to create a grim yet aesthetically pleasing commentary on sea pollution.

Or perhaps you’d rather focus on just one subject, and paint it with such determination that you’re eventually interrogated by police. Look no further than Alex Schaefer‘s fascination with painting the Chase Bank. On fire. Repeatedly.

via GIPHY

And if you’re ever feeling insecure about your work, just remember that  Massachusetts has it’s own museum dedicated entirely to celebrating “art too bad to be ignored” – pop on over here for a browse!

Whatever it is you want to say, and however it is you want to say it, get inspired by our collection on weird art (and how to make it)!


Find your artistic voice : the essential guide to working your creative magic / Congdon, Lisa
“This book is a guide to the process of artistic self-discovery”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)
The best art you’ve never seen : 101 hidden treasures from around the world / Spalding, Julian
“Across the globe there are scores of beautiful and unusual works of art that are largely unseen or fail to receive the critical acclaim they deserve. The Best Art You’ve Never Seen is your essential companion to this hidden world of artistic treasures.” (Catalogue)
You are an artist : assignments to spark creation / Green, Sarah Urist
“More than 50 assignments, ideas, and prompts to expand your world and help you make outstanding new things to put into it […] Full of insights, techniques, and inspiration from art history, this book opens up the processes and practices of artists and proves that you, too, have what it takes to call yourself one.”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Guerrilla Girls : the art of behaving badly / Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists)
“A compendium of artwork by the feminist activist group, the Guerrilla Girls.”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)
Art in minutes / Hodge, Susie
“The perfect compact reference guide for all would-be art buffs. Art historian Susie Hodge takes you on a whistle-stop international tour of all the major artistic cultures, movements, phases, developments, artists and themes, from Prehistoric art to Hyperrealism. Contents also include Greek classicism, Gothic art, the Renaissance, Baroque, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Cubism, surrealism, Pop art and Minimalism.” (Catalogue)


Unexpected art : serendipitous installations, site-specific works, and surprising interventions / Spring, Jenny Moussa
“Graffiti made from cake icing, man-made clouds floating indoors, a luminous moon resting on water. Collected here are dozens of jaw-dropping artworks – site-specific installations, extraordinary sculptures, and groundbreaking interventions in public spaces – that reveal the exciting things that happen when contemporary artists play with the idea of place. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Wall and piece / Banksy
“_______________Banksy. His work. Photographed. With comments by Banksy. In a book. This is that book._______________” (Catalogue)
Modern vintage Illustration / Dawber, Martin
“Past is prologue in this stunning survey of vintage-inspired illustrations that employ classic styles of artistic expression for up-to-date effects.” (Catalogue)
Muse : Uncovering the Hidden Figures Behind Art History’s Masterpieces / Millington, Ruth
“The fascinating true stories of thirty incredible muses–and their role in some of art history’s most well-known masterpieces. We instantly recognize many of their faces from the world’s most iconic artworks–but just who was Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’? Or the burglar in Francis Bacon’s oeuvre? Why was Grace Jones covered in graffiti? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te Reo Māori Comes to the Marvel Universe: New Comics and Graphic Novels

If there’s one thing we love here at the library, it’s a good comic book or two (or three). Luckily, our hard-working librarians have been breaking a sweat down in the book-mines (otherwise known as our offsite collection storage facility) to make sure that we have lots of new comics to fill the shelves and keep you, our beloved readers, in good reading spirits.

Here are just a few of our favourite recent additions to our comics and graphic novel collection. Hopefully you’ve seen a few of these gracing the shelves at a library near you — if not, click the titles below to get reserving!

Te pakanga a Ngāti Rānaki me Te Ranga-Tipua
“Ngāti Rānaki me Te Ranga-Tipua – mai anō i te wehenga of Rangi rāua ko Papa ko rāua tonu ngā tauā tuahangata rongonui katoa – ka wera te umu pokapoka o te ao tukupū i tēnei pakanga turaki aorangi… He kohinga nō ngā pakiwaituhi hirahira katoa i tēnei tekau tau kua hori – e huihui mai ai a Tua Rino, a Kāpene Amerika, a Toa, a Kaiora, a Katipō, a Tama-Werewere, a Matihao, a Whatupihi, a Rangipō, a Te Autō me te huhua noa atu i tēnei pūrākau e rerekē katoa nei ō rātou āhua ā muri ake nei. A compilation of 13 graphic novels describing the battle between the Avengers and the X-Men, a battle that has continued since the separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku. The universe is ablaze from a battle that destroys entire planets. Features: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, and Magnet.” (Catalogue)

Oksi / Ahokoivu, Mari
“Poorling is a little bear. She’s a bit different from her brothers. Mother keeps their family safe. For the Forest is full of dangers. It is there that Mana lives, with her Shadow children. And above them all, Emuu, the great Grandma in the Sky. From the heart of Finnish folklore comes a breathtaking tale of mothers, daughters, stars and legends, and the old gods and the new.” (Catalogue)

Jujutsu kaisen. 10, Evening festival / Akutami, Gege
“In order to regain use of his crippled body, Kokichi Muta, otherwise known as Mechamaru, has been acting as an informant for the cursed spirits. He’s prepared for the betrayal when he’s thrust into a battle to the death against Mahito, but is knowing his enemy enough against a cursed spirit whose powers keep growing exponentially?” (Catalogue)

Nerdy librarians’ note: this volume heralds the beginning of the infamous Shibuya arc (explored further in volumes  11, 12, 13, and 14) — to be covered in the next season of the Jujutsu Kaisen anime. If you haven’t started reading Jujutsu Kaisen yet, you should absolutely not start here: find Volume 1 at your local library instead!


Friday. Book one, The first day of Christmas / Brubaker, Ed
“Friday Fitzhugh spent her childhood solving crimes and digging up occult secrets with her best friend Lancelot Jones, the smartest boy in the world. But that was the past, now she’s in college, starting a new life on her own. Except when Friday comes home for the holidays, she’s immediately pulled back into Lance’s orbit and finds that something very strange and dangerous is happening in their little New England town.” (Catalogue)

A-Okay / Greene, Jarad
“A-Okay by Jarad Greene is a vulnerable and heartfelt semi-autobiographical middle grade graphic novel about acne, identity, and finding your place.” (Catalogue)

Whistle : a new Gotham City hero / Lockhart, E
“Sixteen-year-old Willow Zimmerman reconnects with estranged family friend and real estate tycoon E. Nigma, but after he helps her earn enough for medical treatments for her mom she is attacked by the monstrous Killer Croc and upon waking after the fight she gains powers and insight she will need to make the right choices.” (Catalogue)

Tiny dancer / Siegel, Siena Cherson
“Siena Cherson Siegel dreamed of being a ballerina. Her love of movement and dedication to the craft earned her a spot at the School of American Ballet. Siena has worked hard her whole life to be a professional ballet dancer, then makes the difficult decision to quit dancing and tries to figure out what comes next. But what do you do when you have spent your entire life working toward a goal, having that shape your identity, and then decide it’s time to move on? How do you figure out what to do with your life? And how do you figure out who you are?” (Catalogue)

I am not Starfire / Tamaki, Mariko
“Seventeen-year-old Mandy, who dyes her hair black and hates almost everyone, is not like her mother, the tall, sparkly alien superhero Starfire, so when someone from Starfire’s past arrives, Mandy must make a choice about who she is and if she should risk everything to save her mom.” (Catalogue)

Asadora! Volume 1 / Urasawa, Naoki
“A deadly typhoon, a mysterious creature and a girl who won’t quit. In 2020, a large creature rampages through Tokyo, destroying everything in its path. In 1959, Asa Asada, a spunky young girl from a huge family in Nagoya, is kidnapped for ransom – and not a soul notices. When a typhoon hits Nagoya, Asa and her kidnapper must work together to survive. But there’s more to her kidnapper and this storm than meets the eye. When Asa’s mother goes into labor yet again, Asa runs off to find a doctor. But no one bats an eye when she doesn’t return – not even as a storm approaches Nagoya. Forgotten yet again, Asa runs into a burglar and tries to stop him on her own, a decision that leads to an unlikely alliance.” (Catalogue)

Stars in their eyes / Walton, Jessica
“Pop culture-obsessed Maisie can’t wait to get to her first Fancon. But being a queer, disabled teenager with chronic pain comes with challenges. Can Maisie make it through the day without falling over, falling in love or accidentally inspiring anyone? Maisie has always dreamed of meeting her hero, Kara Bufano, an amputee actor who plays a kick-arse amputee character in her favourite show. Fancon is big and exciting and exhausting. Then she meets Ollie, a cute volunteer who she has a lot in common with. Could this be the start of something, or will her mum, who doesn’t seem to know what boundaries are, embarrass her before she and Ollie have a chance?” (Catalogue)

From the Vaults VII: The Archives of Sexuality and Gender

As internet troglodytes naturalised denizens of the internet, it can sometimes be tempting to fall into the belief that everything there is to know can be found for free online. While it’s true that there is an awful lot of information out there, there are two really important things to be aware of:

  • Not everything you can read for free online is true (shocking thought, I know)
  • A lot of the really reliable, peer-reviewed stuff? Yeah. You gotta pay for that (and they wonder why disinformation is rife)

One of the most important, and coolest, things about the public library is that we can get our readers past those paywalls without you having to pay a cent — so you can get access to the most up-to-date, accurate, and reliable info at the low, low cost of typing in your library card number and trying to remember your PIN.

So today, we thought we would spotlight one of our favourite online resources — the Gale Archives of Sexuality and Gender. Whether you’re doing research for school, want to learn more about our queer elders, or are just curious about how societies all over the world have understood and approached questions of sexuality and gender across time — read on, fellow troglodyte, read on!

via GIPHY

Introducing the Archives of Sexuality and Gender

The Gale Archives of Sexuality and Gender is the largest digital collection in the world of primary sources to do with the history and study of sex, sexuality and gender. It’s split up into four different sections, all of which contain everything from magazines, photographs, cartoons, pamphlets, articles, historic books, government briefings, pieces of legislation, pieces of propaganda, and much more — all to do with how sexual norms have changed over time, the development of health education, social movements and activism, changing gender roles… the list goes on.

What’s in the Archives?

The four sections of the Archives are:

  1. International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture
    What’s it about?
    This archive collects information about sexual and gender diversity in underrepresented areas of the world, including Oceania and Africa, with a special focus on activism and the global struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights and freedoms.
    What can I find here?
    Newspapers, magazines, cartoons, photographs, personal letters, and other files from prominent activists in Africa and Australia.
  2. LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940, Part I
    What’s it about?
    This archive focusses on grassroots movements that sprung up around the world in support of LGBTQIA+ rights during the mid-20th century, especially around the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
    What can I find here?
    Newsletters, community meeting documents, newspapers, research reports, government briefings, legislation, photographs, medical research, surveys, private letters.
  3. LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940, Part II
    What’s it about?
    This archive provides coverage of groups who, even within the LGBTQIA+ community, have not been as well represented as other activist groups, including religious queer communities as well as Two-Spirit, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities. The focus in this archive is more on personal stories than on organisations.
    What can I find here?
    Oral histories, posters, interview transcripts, research papers, psychological surveys, personal letters, manuscripts.
  4. Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century
    What’s it about?
    This archive focusses on understanding how various societies’ understanding of sexual and gender norms have changed from the 1500s through to today.
    What can I find here?
    Extremely rare books and manuscripts including poetry, fiction, historic guides to etiquette and behaviour, medical and scientific texts, law, religious literature, and the personal library of Dr. Alfred Kinsey (yes, that Kinsey)

How do I use the Archives?

Well, in some ways an archive is sort of like a microcosm of the general internet. Just like you can with Google, you can do a general search in the archive’s search engine, and it will bring up an array of results that may or may not include what you’re actually looking for.

But an archive like this one is a little bit cleverer than just any old search engine — so for us to get the most out of it, we have to be a little bit cleverer too!

For example, if you’re interested in learning about LGBTQIA+ history in New Zealand, you can use a special Publication Search to limit your results to only items that were ‘born’ in New Zealand. If what you’re looking for is really specific (e.g. “political posters produced in the 1980s in New Zealand relating to the AIDs crisis”), using a combination of Advanced Search tools will be your way to go.

But we can get even cleverer still! Here are two of our favourite ways to use the Archives:

Topic Finder

The Topic Finder helps you visualise connections between what you’ve searched, and other topics that you might not have even considered! This can be really helpful if you’re doing research for a project, for example, because using the Topic Finder, you can quickly see related topics you might like to look into further, that you wouldn’t have found if you were just doing a general search.

Plus, it looks super pretty — here’s a cute example of a quick search I did for “New Zealand” — as you can see, it has quickly broken down that huge topic into a whole bunch of more specific topics that it will be way easier for me to explore further:

The colours! So fetching!

Term Frequency

If you’re a language nerd like me, you’re super interested in how the language we use changes over time. And the language used to describe the LGBTQIA+ community changes frequently as social norms are challenged and eventually changed. The Term Frequency tool lets you see exactly how this works by showing letting you compare how often particular terms are referenced in written works throughout history.

This is a really interesting example — in the below graph, the black line traces usage of the word “transgender,” whereas the blue line traces the usage of the word “transsexual.” Note that “transsexual” was the more common word, until 1993, when transgender activist Leslie Feinberg popularised the use of the word “transgender” in her impactful novel Stone Butch Blues.

Look, a graph might not seem cool to you, but it seems really cool to us!

So what?

Armed with your new array of tools and techniques, go forth and explore! There is so much interesting, exciting, challenging, inspiring, and thought-provoking stuff in this archive just waiting to be found. Go on! Find it!