Outburst Crush: Five Questions with Illustrator Autumn Crossman

This year for International Women’s Day we wanted to highlight Muslim women who wear the hijab or niqab in Quebec who are experiencing an increase of systemic and community violence after the proposal for the Quebec Charter of Values.  Outburst partnered with Muslimah illustrator Autumn Crossman to create a poster celebrating Muslim’s women resistance. We discovered & fell in LOVE with Autumn’s work through her tumblr blog especially the image “Hijabis in Paris”.  Autumn is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, you can find her on twitter. We asked her five questions about her art and inspiration. 

 

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1. Outburst: Tell us about yourself & your art

Autumn: So, I’ve been making art since I could hold a pencil. My dad used to sit me on his lap and I’d make him draw Sesame Street and Muppet characters for me and that planted the art seed! I didn’t really take it too seriously or get really into art until middle school when I started watching more anime and reading more comics. It was something that interested me beyond enjoying Disney and reading Sailor Moon manga so I kept at it!

2. Outburst:  Can you share some artists that inspire you?

Autumn: Too many! I have a lot of friends who happen to be artists that I admire a lot and who inspire me as well as some art heroes of mine I’ve loved for a long time like Quentin Blake who illustrated a lot of Roald Dahl’s books and more currently Kate Beaton, Fiona Staples, Tom Siddell, Phil Noto, Akiko Higashimura, Hayao Miyazaki and Lucy Knisely to name a small few. My tastes run eclectic mainly because I like to try and gain knowledge and inspiration fro anyone and anything.

3. Outburst!: You are a fantastic artist and have created pieces that speak to the hijab bans in Paris and now in Quebec. What inspired you to create these pieces? What do hope will inspire people to do once they see the illustration?

Autumn: Thanks! It’s a funny story actually, when i was still in school it was during France’s hijab ban and obviously I was pretty upset over it and I was discussing it with my friend/surrogate older sister Emma and she came up with the wordplay from Kanye lyrics and I was like wouldn’t it be so good if i drew something to that?” and she was like literally why arent you tho. It was for a school assignment first then i thought I’d share it and put it on tshirts and stuff on my Redbubble and it went over so well! I’m pretty proud of it and the dialogue especially with non Muslim friends that it opened up.

4. Outburst! You have a great tumblr blog that showcases your art. What has some of the feedback online to your work? 

Autumn: It’s been so great for me honestly, I’m so lucky. People have been really receptive to my storytelling and illustrations and doodles and slowly but surely I’m gaining a pretty rad fan base of people who all really care about my art and also sometimes me as well haha. 

5. Outburst!:  The name for our group came from the idea that we wanted to speak out as young Muslim women. Can you share a time you have spoken out?

Autumn: I don’t know if there’s anything specific? I do spend a lot of time in general being like “Uhhh that’s not a real…..fact……..” when i hear some of the stuff people say and have said. I get asked from time to time if I’m like, oppressed or if my dad made me wear hijab or if I was forced to quit school etc etc and while its not super often, it’s enough to get very annoying. 

 I’m fairly expressive so sometimes it’s less speaking up and more incredibly incredulous looks at people until they stop telling me the thing and feel shame, haha.  Sometimes I think the act in of itself of being a vocal muslim is speaking up because I do end up having to explain things on a fairly regular basis to many many people. Don’t be shy to tell people what you know and what you don’t. Sometimes people ask questions only someone with like 20 years of Islamic studies can answer. 

 Autumn is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, you can find her on twitter

On the Parti Quebecois’ Charter of Values By Ginella Massa

My Hijab My Choice

 

Imagine being told by your provincial government that you have to remove your pants before entering your work place. No slacks, no trousers, no sweatpants, no shorts, no skirts. Only underwear would be permitted. You are welcome to wear pants in the comfort and privacy of your home, and while going about your daily life, but not while on the clock.

 

Would you feel exposed without pants? Would it upset you enough to march in the street with other pants-wearing citizens? Would you consider a move from the province in protest? Should the government be able to tell you what you can and cannot wear at work, and declare that covering the lower half of your body goes against the province’s values?

 

Well, this may soon be a similar reality for thousands of Canadians as the Parti Quebecois’ proposed Charter of Values is set to be tabled Thursday. The bill would make it illegal for public sector employees to wear head scarves, turbans, yarmulkes and large crucifixes at work. For many like me, these articles of clothing are more than just religions symbols.  As a Muslim woman wearing a hijab for almost two thirds of my life, it’s a huge part of my identity. Just as you might feel exposed leaving the house without pants, I would feel naked without my scarf tightly wrapped around my head every day. Religion aside, wearing a hijab is so engrained in my daily life — carefully choosing from my colourful collection of scarves each day, being greeted with a knowing smile by other Muslims at work, and having my colleagues know a little bit about me without ever having to discuss my religion with them. The way others may chose to express themselves with funky socks, red lipstick, or snazzy ties, my scarf is my silent expression of my faith and it’s really for no one else but me.

 

Wearing a hijab has never stopped me from achieving my goals — if anything, it has pushed me to break through the stereotype of the “oppressed Muslim woman.”  As a child, I always dreamed of becoming a journalist. I work in a job where my employer values me for what’s in my head, rather than what’s on it. I could never imagine being forced to give up my career, not because I wanted to, but because someone else had decided that the piece of cloth on my head doesn’t belong. I’m so grateful that I don’t have to face that reality. But so many of my fellow Canadians may soon have to. Imagine, Quebec’s younger generation of Muslims, Sikhs, and Jews having to give up on dreams of becoming doctors, teachers, and police officers.

 

At its basic core, the Parti Quebecois’ Charter of Values is state-sanctioned workplace discrimination. This legislation claims to promote equality in Quebec’s society, but would instead create more barriers to prevent many from achieving just that.

 

The best part about being Canadian is knowing that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects me.  I cannot be discriminated against for my gender, race, sexual orientation, political belief or religion. The PQ’s proposed Charter of Values is an affront to all of that. And that’s not the Canada I know and love.

 

Ginella Massa graduated with an honours BA from York University in Communications and Sociology, and has a diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Seneca College. She has worked as a reporter for Rogers Television, and as a segment producer for CTV News Channel. This article was originally published as a blog on thoughtsfromaheadscarf.blogspot.com. You can follow her on twitter @Ginella_M.

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