Graphic novels placed on shelves and in glass encasements fill the empty spaces amid the study tables full of stressed students eager to make it through the last couple weeks of the semester.
Works of art like those in the “Imagining Our Stories, Narrating Our World” exhibit on the second floor east terrace of the Pollak Library may go unnoticed as students remain fixated on their schoolwork.
“It’s really easy when you’re in college to get frustrated,” said Frank Alanis, a CSUF alumnus, part-time lecturer and one of the curators of the exhibit. “It’s really about moments where you can pause and look at something and hopefully something about (the exhibit) will click with you in some way.”
Alanis worked with English associate professor Erin Hollis to curate the exhibit showcasing a variety of graphic novels. Alanis credits graphic novelist Chris Ware as one of the inspirations for the exhibit.
Ware, the author of “Building Stories,” focuses his novels on everyday occurrences, using images to tell seemingly mundane stories that are powerful and important.
Comic books are often associated with superheroes. However, Alanis hopes this exhibit will allow people to notice comics as a strong storytelling medium outside of that stereotype.
The exhibit has novels about people of underrepresented communities like the Iranian story, “Persepolis,” along with stories about the LGBTQ community and by women cartoonists. They offer narratives that may resonate with people from different walks of life while promoting visibility for this historically marginalized medium, Alanis said.
The once-banned novel “This One Summer,” written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, can be borrowed from the library. It’s a coming-of-age story told through beautiful art from the perspective of an angsty teenage girl.
“It’s a good way to see a tale from a place a lot of us may not have been to and from that person’s actual perspective,” Alanis said.
Lynda Barry, author of “Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor,” greatly influenced the interactive portion of the exhibit. Students are encouraged to follow a prompt by drawing and writing in a provided composition book about something they saw and heard during their day.
Alanis’ goal is to have students reflect on things from their own lives as a reminder that they have done something with their day, even if it feels meaningless at the time. As students recount their lives onto the pages of the exhibit, the next visitor can view and read about past days of other CSUF student days.
“Anyone can tell a story and your story is as valid as anyone else’s,” Alanis said.
The exhibit shares an open space with study tables, so Alanis urges students to take the time to look at the graphic novels on display, even if only for a few minutes.
The exhibit will be open until Thursday Dec. 21.