The 319th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 at 2pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email comicssymposium@gmail.com to register for this event. Free and open to the public. PLEASE NOTE 2 PM ET START FOR THIS TALK!

Catherine Anyango Grünewald: How will we know what to remember?

Catherine will speak about her graphic novel and drawing practice, which she uses to explore the interweaving of time, space and memory. In her work she is interested in using visual storytelling and comics as a way to study the other and the unknown, the visualization of the breakdown of order within a system, and how images change form over time, with images and identities haunting multiple types of production. She willdemonstrate how a graphic adaptation of classic texts can place a new understanding of existing material, and how she uses the format to underline emotional undercurrents in written material.

In times of political and social extremism, nostalgia and the rewriting of history into ideals creates a reality that lacks specificity. Memory becomes oversimplified, generalised and reduced. Visual storytelling can remind people of the specificity of reality and the importance of remembering, envisioning and articulating our lives and the lives of others. Through her graphic novels Heart of Darkness, Scandorama, Terminal and Dead Man Walking Catherine will investigate nostalgia and haunting, revisit eugenic and colonial histories and explore the use of drawing to remember and memorialise contemporary victims of crimes. 

Catherine Anyango Grünewald (born 1982, Swedish/Kenyan) is an internationally exhibited artist and lecturer. In 2010 her graphic novel adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was published to critical acclaim and has been translated into eight languages. In 2018 she illustrated Scandorama, a dystopian Scandinavian graphic novel written by Hannele Mikaela Taivassalo, and her own upcoming graphic novel 2×2 explores the physical effects of guilt and corruption. She is also currently working on a graphic novel adaptation of Sister Helen Prejean’s Dead Man Walking which will be published by Random House in 2022. Catherine’s drawing work uses the materiality of drawing tools to explore meaning, exploiting the physical properties of pencil and eraser to render events with realism, but to also explore unseen dimensions. Her drawings tackle the historical and contemporary systemic oppression of characters who have been marginalised and underrepresented. The process and labour invested in the work is a direct homage to the subjects, victims of violent domestic or institutional crimes. In 2019 she was awarded the Navigator Art on Paper Prize, the largest award for work on paper in the world. Catherine taught at the Royal College of Art in London for ten years and is now a Senior Lecturer in Illustration at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm.