O Horvath is a printmaker, library worker and comic artist out of Providence, Rhode Island. Their work focuses on lesbian utopics and the healing potential of speculative thought. Find out more at their portfolio and Twitter. They provided art for this week's story, "Water, Birch, and Blood" by Sara Norja.
This interview was conducted by email in June 2016.
Tory Hoke: As an illustrator, how did you get where you are today?
O Horvath: I studied printmaking in school, and that's the primary medium I work in. I love that printmaking has the potential to be quick, messy, and cheap. It has a rich history as an accessible, radical tool for disseminating information to as many people as possible (think José Guadalupe Posada and the Mexican school of engraving, French student posters for the '68 uprising, Emory Douglas and his work for the Black Panther Party, the rise of women's presses—even early Star Trek slash zine culture.) When I'm not in the studio, I'm a library worker and an educator.
© 2014 O Horvath, show poster
Tory Hoke: Your figures are loose and expressive, but your anatomy is always believable. How did you arrive at that style? How did it evolve, and how, if at all, would you like it to evolve further?
O Horvath: Seeing Sophie Campbell's comic work when I was a teen really inspired me. I remember it as one of the first times I saw fat, trans, black bodies in comics being drawn with obvious care and love and not just as a marker of difference. I think a lot about this part in Monique Wittig's surreal SF novella, Les Guérillères, where a postapocalyptic gang of women have discarded imagery classically used to represent women's bodies: "They say that any symbol that exalts the fragmented body is transient, must disappear," "the integrity of the body [is] their first principle."
I want to challenge how women's bodies are thought of and represented—in comics especially. We're taught to draw bodies in a way that prioritizes line, simplifying bodies to this aesthetic ideal that has nothing to do with what inhabiting a body feels like to me. It feels important to me to think about weight, how skin is pulled over muscle and fat, how bodies hang and gather.
© 2015 O Horvath, page from "Belly of the Beast"
Tory Hoke: What is the art community like where you are?
O Horvath: My peers and collaborators in Providence have a huge impact on my work. I'm so inspired by the people around me who bring thoughtful, critical, and loving approaches to music, art, writing, spacemaking, and community building. I also live in the Dirt Palace, a long-standing collective of feminist artists in the city. I feel so lucky to learn from the women I share space with there, some of whom have been holding it down for over 15 years. Watching women my age and older supporting each other, skill sharing, archiving, making challenging and amazing work both in personal practice and collaboratively is never not exciting to me.
Tory Hoke: What other artists inspire or interest you?
O Horvath: Always gravitating towards work that takes a speculative approach to women's bodies, traumas, loves, and futures—really feeling Rasheedah Phillips, Puiupo, Mimi Chrzanowski, Jun Togawa, E. Conner, CMOV, Kate Bush, Kevin Czapiewski, and KL Ricks right now, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
© 2016 O Horvath, untitled
Tory Hoke: What would you like to see more of in contemporary F/SF art?
O Horvath: There's so much gatekeeping in terms of what is and isn't considered SF and what is celebrated in the genre. I love that the Metropolarity collective equally acknowledges writers of fiction, theorists, artists, and musicians as SF creators. I'd love to see more intermedium recognition, communication, and collaboration. And obviously, always, in all mediums and genres—more marginalized people representing themselves in art, in complicated and sometimes conflicting ways, and getting credit for their work!
Tory Hoke: What's your dream project?
O Horvath: In a world where I had access to infinite resources and there wasn't already enough plastic detritus in landfills, I'd love to have my own toy line. I'm thinking Happy Meal girl option/'80s Mattel-core vibe, with crystal balls and plant toys that open up to reveal tiny plastic dungeons and messy rooms with tons of removable parts, soft PVC dolls of hot fat girls and pastel crones with that polyester hair that gets tangled immediately, all intricately blister packaged, maybe some tie-in gummy candies that come in holographic packaging . . .
Tory Hoke: What's next for you?
O Horvath: I'm working on the second installment of my comic for next fall's issue of Meg Powers and Steven Glavey's amazing gay Heavy Metal tribute anthology WARLOCK WASTELAND, and I'm working on a longer story about abduction and trauma, which I'll be self-publishing serially starting later this year.
Tory Hoke: Thank you for your time, O! It's been a pleasure.