Lindsey Tyne Johnson appreciated that her mentor Miriam Libicki shares a similar cultural background and many of the same values and beliefs. She’s been deeply inspired by Miriam to live authentically and to work towards her dreams, even if it’s slowly.
Lindsey Tyne Johnson: Coming from a Jewish background and having Miriam be able to relate and talk about her relationship with her cultural background with me has been, like, really nice and refreshing.
Miriam Libicki: Yeah, I think that is good too…We were able to talk about whatever was on our minds that week. We did always get around to the plans for Culture Days, but other than that, we would talk about comics, family stuff, community stuff, art career stuff. And, sometimes we could talk about being diaspora Jewish people and what that is like.
BC Culture Days: What sort of learning experiences did this mentorship bring you?
Lindsey Tyne Johnson: I struggle a lot with being hyper-critical of my work; Miriam encouraged me to work through the discomfort and to pursue opportunities regardless. She gave me a lot of different avenues I could take with my art practice, including different movements and publications that could house my work.
I’m incredibly impressed by how Miriam has juggled everything in her life. I’m always trying to hold myself to some specific standard that’s often very unrealistic. I’ve been inspired by how Miriam has been working on one specific project for a very long time. That has just reinforced to me that I don’t need to have a set time limit to work on things like graphic novels. They can take years and years and years to create, and that’s totally fine.
BC Culture Days: Did you feel that this mentorship helped you grow any connections within your community?
Lindsey Tyne Johnson: One of my favourite parts about the workshop that I did was giving participants sticky notes, and I asked everybody to describe what justice was to them. They all wrote down answers, and we put the notes up on this big wall. This was in part thanks to Miriam for suggesting this. It was nice to have that suggestion because I think it really helped make the project more collaborative with all of the participants.
BC Culture Days: As an artist, why do you feel that it’s important to share your experience and be a mentor?
Miriam Libicki: One of the great things about being an artist is that you chart your own path in life, and you kind of have to. It’s not a salaried job. It’s not something with milestones. I think that if you don’t have a mentor then it can be very lonely and it can be very intimidating in the art world. What you see of other artists, if you’re not in close community with them, is other people’s successes and you only see people being more productive than you or posting on social media. That stuff can be a really damaging illusion. If you have a mentor, somebody who’s gone through some things, then they can also let you in on the things that people don’t put out there as professionals. The things that are more difficult and that people are more ambivalent about. You know, their past struggles. It lets you see the other side of things.
As well, so much of the art world is about connections. If you can share experiences and if you can even share connections, that will help people all the time. That’s something that I try to do as a mentor. Anything that I have that I can share that I know can help somebody’s career, I always try to. I always think it’s good to do that.
Lindsey Tyne Johnson is a digital artist and printmaker living and working on the unceded territory of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. As a trauma survivor, Lindsey creates art that reflects the struggles and triumphs of healing and recovering from personal and intergenerational trauma. Her latest solo show, Hebrew Spelled Backwards, speaks to discovering and healing ancestral and family wounds. After attending the Yukon School of Visual Arts, Lindsey has shown work in various galleries and festivals and is currently an aspiring graphic novelist. It’s a great desire for Lindsey to raise awareness of the pervasive effects of trauma and to garner more awareness and support for survivors and victims of violent crime. She is also finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and is the mother of a rabbit, Bunbun, who is her heart and soul.
Miriam Libicki is an Eisner-nominated author, cartoonist and illustrator concentrating on narrative nonfiction, with a BFA in Visual Art from Emily Carr University and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. She teaches illustration and humanities at Emily Carr University and Langara College. Her short comics have been published by the Nib, Abrams, Rutgers University Press, and the Journal of Jewish Identities. Her 2008 Israeli Army memoir “jobnik!” has been used in over a dozen university courses. Her book of drawn essays, TOWARD A HOT JEW was named a FORBES Top 10 graphic novel of 2016 and received the 2017 Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature. Her painted essay WHO GETS CALLED AN UNFIT MOTHER was nominated for a 2020 Best Short Story Eisner. Libicki was the 2017 Writer in Residence at the Vancouver Public Library, and is currently working on a nonfiction graphic novel about the exodus of Soviet Jews from the collapsing USSR, and its impact on the last three decades of Jewish culture, called GLASNOST KIDS. 2022 saw the publication of BUT I LIVE, (University of Toronto Press) a trio of illustrated accounts by child Holocaust survivors aimed at general readership and high school classrooms. Miriam collaborated with survivor David Schaffer to paint his story for this volume. BUT I LIVE received two PROSE awards, and the Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and has been nominated for a 2023 Eisner Award. Libicki exhibits at galleries and comic conventions, and lectures on cartooning in Canada, the US and overseas.