Distributed for free and self-published by Laura Gapske and Lindsey Graskey, positive reception is largely what has kept the zine going.
Evidence of this will come March 13 with Minerva Zine’s Third Annual Party, and celebration of its seventh year in existence. Hosted at the Prove Art Gallery, the event features local music, readings, and artwork for the eyes and ears.
Short for “fanzine” or magazine, zines are generally low-budget, DIY affairs, dedicated to a specific focus or theme.
Minerva’s artwork is centered on statements of confidence and societal criticism of the worst the world has to offer: bigotry, sexism, racism, addiction.
The lettering reads almost like a ransom note, cut-up type plastered over black and white submissions. It gives off a concise, raw aesthetic.
Graskey and Gapske cite the readings, the artwork, and the connections to be made as reasoning for putting on the annual party.
“It’s more tangible to hear the expression in the voice,” said Gapske, “no one gets to see the art in color.” Essentially, the juxtaposition of the pieces and live readings make for an immersive experience, beyond that of the zine.
Any gender or association can contribute to Minerva, providing the message is “positive, humanist, and free of racism or sexism,” said Gapske.
Multiple contributors assure variety in the finished project, though many of the contributors are only able to meet at the annual party.
Ava Francesca Battocchio, a Minerva contributor, said “it creates an opportunity to interact with people I wouldn’t otherwise interact with.”
Minerva is distributed across Duluth at locations such as The Electric Fetus, Pizza Luce, and Whole Foods Co-Op, among others.
“We have a lot of allies across the Duluth community,” said Gapske.
The zine’s title is in reference to the Roman goddess, Minerva, often seen as the equivalent to the Grecian Athena.
“There was a lot of symbolism in choosing Minerva as the Goddess to represent the zine” said Gapske, “woman warrior, wisdom, arts, and crafts; [Minerva] is all of that.”
Started in 2007 by Gapske, Minerva was originally an independent study project at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. After a post-grad hiatus, Minerva began regular publication in 2012.
“[Minerva] is a platform for other people who want to create zines,” said Rachel Phoenix, another Minerva contributor. “It has a significant history and has been reliably [published].”
Phoenix is also is part of the quartet Black Diary, who will be performing at the party.
Since 2012, Minerva has stuck to traditional fanzine routes, focusing more on the physical product than digital presence.
Minerva has a Facebook page for contact and social media purposes; however, Gapske and Graskey have been somewhat resistant towards developing an actual website.
Their Facebook alerts their followers of events and distribution, but only highlights some of the artwork. This methodology keeps Minerva “underground” according to Graskey, while paying homage to physical zines of the past.
“Over time we’re reducing humanity to avatars. What we should be doing is challenging ourselves to reach out and connect. These face to face, open and honest conversations should be opportunities,” said Battacchio, in a piece excerpted from Minerva, titled “The Great Disconnect".
Only recently has Minerva moved towards expansion via website, though maintaining a delicate balance between physical and digital formats has always been the plan.
“It’s more of a digital business card,” said Battocchio, who is working on the website’s creation.
The latest physical publication of Minerva is about the size of a small Bible. The last page features some artwork and the words “keeping strength in her pocket.”