Expand and challenge your personal values about artistic expression with author and cartoonist Lynda Barry, who will discuss creative methods, the impact of memories and images, and how the ordinary can be extraordinary in her talk, “What It Is,” on Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

Presented by the Moss Arts Center in partnership with the Virginia Tech Department of English Visiting Writer Series, Barry’s talk will be held in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Moss Arts Center’s Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

Barry has worked as a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator, and teacher and found all these professions to be very much alike. Widely credited with expanding the literary, thematic, and emotional range of American comics, her seminal comic strip, “Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” ran in alternative newspapers across North America for 30 years.

Barry is currently assistant professor in interdisciplinary creativity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and runs the Image Lab at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. She has led writing workshops for the public and hosted a seeing eye-themed series of popular public talks with guests Ryan Knighton, blind writer and writing teacher; contemporary cartoonists Ivan Brunetti and Chris Ware; “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening; and Dan Chaon, acclaimed novelist and short story writer.

“There is something common to everything we call the arts. What is it? It’s something I call ‘an image,’ something that feels alive and is contained and transported by something that is not alive — a book, or a song or a painting — anything we call an ‘art form,’” Barry prefaces her talk. “This ancient ‘it’ has been around at least as long as we have had hands, and the state of mind it brings about is not plain old ‘thinking.’ This talk is about of our innate creative ability to work with images and what the biological function of this thing we call ‘the arts’ may be. Please note: There will be swear words, party tricks, and jokes about balls.”

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Barry has authored 21 books, worked as a commentator for NPR, and had regular features in Esquire, Mother Jones, Mademoiselle, and Salon. She created an album-length spoken word collection of stories, “The Lynda Barry Experience,” and adapted her first novel, “The Good Times Are Killing Me,” into a long running off-Broadway play, since published by Samuel French and performed throughout North America.

Barry’s “Writing the Unthinkable” workshop — especially designed for nonwriters — is the basis for her award-winning book, “What It Is.” She has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including two William Eisner awards, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Wisconsin Library Association’s RR Donnelly Award, the Washington State Governor’s Award, and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Outreach Fellowship.

This performance features adult themes and languages and is not suitable for all audiences.

Barry will participate in a question-and-answer session on Oct. 28, at 10 a.m. in the Moss Arts Center Cube, where she will discuss her approach to writing and cartooning. Presented in collaboration with the Department of English Visiting Writer Series, admission is free, but first come, first served. To guarantee a seat, call the Moss Arts Center's box office at 540-231-5300 to register. Familiarity with Barry’s work is highly encouraged.

Immediately following the performance, Barry will be available in the Moss Arts Center Grand Lobby for a free book signing event. Her books will also be available for purchase.


Tickets for the performance are $25 for general admission and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email kmcallis@vt.edu during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to an event.

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