A York graduate student has earned a nomination for a prestigious award in Canadian comics for the comic book she made for her Masters of Environmental Studies. Sabrina Scott, who defended her masters in August 2015 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Science and Technology Studies at York, is among five candidates for the 2016 Doug Wright Spotlight Award.
The award recognizes Canadian cartoonists deserving of wider recognition, and will be announced May 14.
Scott’s comic Witchbody was part of her masters research that focused on contemporary Western witchcraft and magic as a form of ecopedagogy.
“Witchbody is a meandering synthesis of autoethnography, magic theory, and philosophical speculation,” said Scott. “It is full of wonder at what it can mean to learn and teach and change and grow in this world which belongs to all of us: you, me, plants, trees, coffee cups and garbage bins. What can it mean to be a witch today, in the city?”
As part of her MES thesis, the comic book was designed as an illustrated essay about how techniques of magic can re-orient the practitioner to see non-human bodies and relationships in different ways.
“I am absolutely ecstatic at the nomination,” said Scott, who described the making of Witchbody as a very vulnerable process that challenged her as an artist and as an academic.
“Merging the worlds of practice and theory – with a little soul – is what I have always hoped to do,” she said. “I really felt like I was jumping out on a limb with this project – there aren’t many comics that are full of philosophy and environmental theory. And to depict myself engaging in spirituality – that, too, was pretty scary, but ultimately incredibly rewarding and cathartic. It is a very humbling honour to be nominated alongside so many of my heroes in comics and illustration, and the recognition of a project so intimate and close to my heart really means the world.”
Scott also expressed gratitude for support for her project from Steve Alsop (MES supervisor) and Ravi de Costa (MRP advisor).
“Not every academic context encourages such interdisciplinary projects,” said Scott. “I hope to continue working in this format during my PhD, and am grateful for the opportunity to have had the freedom to create during my masters.”