Lynda Barry discusses creativity at convocation address Aug. 22

by University Communications,

American cartoonist and author Lynda Barry is Willamette University’s 2014 convocation speaker.

Barry will give her talk, “What It Is” from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Aug. 22 in the Quad, which will be followed by a book signing in the Willamette book store. All first-year students are required to attend the lecture. Other Willamette University students, family members and staff are also welcome to attend.

Barry’s speech is based on her research on the biological function of “the arts,” which explores why children feel able to draw, write, dance, sing and act while adults do not. The research also centers on why adults still long to do some of these activities, long after giving up hope of ever being able to do so.

Barry is the creator of the seminal comic strip, “Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” which was syndicated in alternative weeklies across North America for three decades.

She is the author of 17 books, including “One Hundred Demons,” “Cruddy: An Illustrated Novel,” and “The Good Times Are Killing Me.” The latter book, about an interracial friendship between two young girls, was adapted as an off-Broadway play and won the Washington State Governor’s Award.

Her best-selling how-to graphic novel, “What It Is,” is part memoir, part collage and part workbook. In it, Barry instructs her readers in methods to open up their own creativity. The book won the Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Graphic Novel and the R.R. Donnelly Award for highest literary achievement by a Wisconsin author.

Barry is an associate professor of interdisciplinary creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and runs the Image Lab at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.

Barry's visit is made possible through generous support from "Learning by Creating," Willamette's four year, Mellon-funded initiative promoting the interdisciplinary, collaborative application of creativity to enhance teaching, learning and research opportunities among arts and humanities students and faculty.