Maureen Burdock was born in the Black Forest in Germany and grew up being enchanted and awed by fairy tales, witches, and magical landscapes. At the same time, her family often told stories of the war years, making her acutely aware of a divided Germany.
Burdock arrived in Chicago at age seven, where she learned to navigate a foreign environment and language with the help of teachers, books, and art. Drawing, painting and writing became both communication tools and psychological means for survival. As she matured, the artist used these tools to understand her own identity and the world at large. Burdock’s current work still incorporates narrative and visual elements to probe deeply into her psyche and to explore societal divisions and disconnections. Since 2006, Burdock has been creating a series of graphic novels that deal with gender-based violence around the world. Most recently, she has been working on an animated short film. She continues to incorporate both elements of magic and political awareness into her work.
Burdock currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is working on an MFA in studio practice and an MA in Visual Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She facilitates Laydeez do Comics San Francisco, a comics forum weighted towards women creators, which originated in the UK. Burdock has won several awards for her graphic novel work, including high commendation by the global Freedom to Create International Competition and top prize in the Judy Chicago/Through the Flower, Feminist Artists Under Forty Competition. The artist has received critical acclaim by diverse reviewers, including articles in Marie Claire, Mumbai, India; Strip, Copenhagen, Denmark; and the online publications Lamp Project and Art Animal. She has published reviews and articles in publications and catalogs such as Graphic Novel Reporter, Art Practical, and WomanHouse v.4.0 Catalog. Several gender studies and world literature professors have adopted Burdock’s graphic novels for their classrooms, and McFarland will publish an anthology of the F Word Project in 2014. Burdock continues to exhibit her work in gallery and museum venues, and is looking forward to an exhibition of the art for her current book,Mosi & the Long Run, at Space Station 65 Gallery in London in 2014.
Maureen Burdock’s work is included in the Brooklyn Museum Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art Base.
- 09.04.2014 / A Conversation with Maureen Burdock Moderated by Jackie Francis
- 08.25.2014 / Watch Maureen Burdock Present at Annual VCS Symposium
- 8.25.2014 / Sightlines Essays from VCS Class of 2014 Now Available
- 06.09.2014 / Exhibition Featuring Maureen Burdock Opens in London
- 2.3.2014 / Maureen Burdock’s Work in One Billion Rising Exhibiton in New Mexico
Chimeric Practices: Decolonizing Comics
Much of contemporary comics scholarship has focused on the form as being an outgrowth of mass media and communications, which are the products of industrialization and Westernization. Through this lens, transnational graphic narratives are intrinsically wedded to the West, whiteness, militarism, colonialism, and superheroes. It is time to decolonize comics. By examining the contemporary graphic narratives Kari, Sita’s Ramayana, Castle Waiting, and the F Word Project through a postcolonial and transnational feminist lens, I reveal that comics are the successors of much older oral and pict-oral folkloric traditions from around the world. Pict-oral is a word I use to describe performative and oral traditions that combine the use of spoken word with the display of pictures.
While I reveal the importance of decolonizing comics by connecting them to time-honored traditions, I also reveal how the pict-oral works act as decolonizing agents. They offer a unique kind of reading practice, not quite like any other artistic or literary form. They present a Third Space where readers may deviate from linear readings, linger in the gutters, and question unfamiliar elements in familiar contexts (or vice versa). These works offer opportunities for collaboration. They rehumanize by reconnecting orality and vocality with bodies and body language. Finally, the comics I examine coax readers to enter a chimeric space—a challenging, disorienting space—that begs for continual questioning and reinvention.