Q&A with Ara FEDUCIA, the creative behind zine workshop "aLL THAT MATTERS."
Text by Rachel Halemanu
Ara Feducia is a talented creative who moved to Hawai’i at the age of 17. She is the creative director for Nella Media Group, a design and typography lecturer at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and a Redbull Mr. X for Redbull Music Academy. Her passion for the arts and the youth of Hawai’i will be put to use tomorrow, when she is hosting a zine workshop for all ages.
What is the meaning behind “All That Matters?”
It’s a literal title. These are things that matter to me. I don’t think there’s much focus on the humanities programs here in the islands, and I think that we’re still kind of recovering from learning how to deal with No Child Left Behind. I don’t think the program induces critical thinking in youth. The humanities are the gateway drug to an intelligent human and I find that to be really important.
How did you come up with the idea to start a zine workshop?
The first zine workshop that I did was for Girl Fest Hawai’i directed by Kathryn Xian. When I moved here, I lived close to Jelly’s and back then we had to go there to buy CD’s and vinyl. The people there were a part of the punk counter-culture, so I was always surrounded by it. People were making flyers and throwing parties and zines were a part of that dialogue. There was a time where the woman from Revolution Books was always on the UH Manoa campus trying to sell her newspapers. That area, that free-speech area, doesn’t even exist anymore. That’s interesting to me. Freedom of speech is a big deal to me and it’s a crucial part of the zine culture.
What is the process behind organizing these workshops?
It’s a bit easier for me to organize an event like this because I have already established a relationship with venues and other people in the community. For example, I’m in the art department at UH so it’s easier to invite art students and faculty. When I was younger it seemed like I was always inspired by what people were making, KTUH, Jelly's Music, Radio Free Hawaii and musicians like Jason Miller (Hawaiian Express Records,) Otto and Josh86 were huge influencers. I always wonder if my generation is inspiring the next group of young people the same way. So that’s why I started organizing these zine workshops. All we’re doing is providing models and tools for people.
The website for this workshop states that they are “geared towards youth activation through the arts and culture.” Why is this important to you?
I think that the youth have more of a peer perspective on important topics because, in my opinion, they’re not tainted with politics and contexts. Young people can see it for what it is. I like asking young people, “What do you think? What does this make you feel? Has anyone ever asked you these questions? Do you know that this will affect you?” I think it’s because of that peer perspective. It’s more of a naïve perspective. Another thing is that culture is constantly in flux. It’s always a mix between unofficial, which is what the youth is doing, and the official, what older people are doing. In the end, it’s about mentorship and someone showing you a different perspective. I can empower them by showing them how to produce their own goods and they can make some money. They could decide to use that money to carry them to the next project. Art school doesn’t teach us sustainability, so I’m kind of trying to blend different worlds of academia and consumerism and activism. Like these are your resources, use them. There’s no right way or wrong way. Ultimately, if you’re not thinking about what young people are thinking about, then you’re not thinking about the future. We'll just end up with a generation of uneducated narcissists.
What do you want people to get out of this workshop?
I want them to know that they have a voice. They can say whatever they want to and they can have an opinion about something and it’s nobody’s business. A zine is a tool for you to say that. You can do whatever you want and it doesn’t matter. It’s your right. And you can Xerox your zine and share it.
In what ways has this workshop impacted you?
I only think these workshops are successful if people come to it. If they weren’t coming, I wouldn’t do it. The last one was successful and that motivated me to plan another one immediately. People think this is important.
What are some long-term goals for this project?
I hope it results in more funding for the arts. I want to be more proactive about change on the legislative level. To encourage politicians to create bills and tax incentives for small businesses like Nella Media Group and Mark’s Garage, and all the shops and restaurants especially in Chinatown. Tax incentives for artists, musicians and small business owners could be a great incentive for young people and help with Hawaii's high cost of living. Hopefully we can build change.
What are you most excited about for this workshop?
I’m excited to see new faces and families coming through. I’m excited to hear the question, “What is a zine?” Like, oh man, that’s cool. They haven’t heard of it before. And they’re going to say, “Wow there’s been this huge zine culture that has existed since the late ’70s.” It’s what our freaking parents were doing!
How can people find out more about it?
Ideally through word of mouth, but also through the website, allthatmattershnl.com.