Eight Rock

Ajuan Mance
The Little Book of Big, Black Bears, and Gender Studies.
2 Zines.
 Artist’s Statement: Ajuan ManceAs a queer African American artist who identifies as a gender non-conforming woman, my line of artistic inquiry has, for the last several years, explored the gaze of the gender non-conforming/butch/stud artist on Black manhood and masculinity (my own, and that of the Black men who populate my community). I am interested in using art and words to document the many ways that my own position within both Blackness and masculinity but outside of manhood has shaped my vision and experience of gender, class, and cultural diversity within communities of African descent. These zines are part of my public participation in the evolving discussion of the controlling images that have shaped the way that men of African descent and male-identified Black people of all sexes and genders are perceived. My work has been especially focused on those identities within Blackness–elders, geeks and nerds, non-gender conforming and queer folks, and others–on whose silence and invisibility white supremacy and patriarchy depend.The Little Book of Big, Black Bears is an illustrated tribute to those men of African descent who identify as bears. The wider perception both within and outside of LGBTQ circles is that the bears are, for the most part, white men; and many men of African descent who identify as such report experiencing themselves as marginalized or invisible (or both) within bear culture. The Little Book of Big, Black Bears uses humor and art to celebrate and make visible Black bears in all their diversity.Gender Studies is the first issue of an autobiographical comic zine that revisits key moments that shaped my present-day gender identity and performance. The first issue looks back on some of the things I learned about maleness and gender from the cisgender men that I dated in college. I am currently at work on the second issue of Gender Studies. This issue will focus on the relationship between gender identity and hair in the lives of Black butches, studs, and transmasculine folks. I will be debuting this issue of the comic zine at April’s Brooklyn Zine Fest.Links to excerpts from The Little Book of Big, Black Bears:
http://8-rock.tumblr.com/post/111129223148/the-little-book-of-big-black-bears-a-zine-byhttp://8-rock.tumblr.com/post/111130269578Links to excerpts from Gender Studies: