Power in Pictures: The Outside Circle and the Impact of the Graphic Novel

Kelly Mellings, The Outside Circle, detail from the graphic novel

Organized by Glenbow; curated by Joanne Schmidt

How a graphic novel empowers youth through art and storytelling

The Graphic Novel has grown rapidly in popularity and the medium provides an appealing space in which readers engage interactively with complex themes and visual narratives. Diverse, imbued with cross-cultural influences, visually compelling and vibrant; the graphic novel is the literal definition of narrative art and a perfect medium through which to engage youth.

The Power in Pictures exhibition is the culmination of a series of workshops hosted at Glenbow that connected young people from USAY (Urban Society of Aboriginal Youth) with artist Kelly Mellings, illustrator of the graphic novel The Outside Circle by Patti Laboucane-Benson. Participants were encouraged to tap into their own creativity to create comics and masks that drew on their own experiences to tell a story. A shared and collaborative space, the gallery features the art created by the USAY participants hung alongside that of the artist who taught them, creating a space where complex feelings and experiences are explored through art.

About The Outside Circle graphic novel

In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse and gang violence try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.Powerful, courageous and deeply moving, The Outside Circle is drawn from the author's 20 years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Aboriginal men.

About USAY

The Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth has been an influential not-for profit organization in Calgary since 2001. USAY strives to provide essential programming and services to Calgary's Aboriginal youth between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine.

USAY's Mission Statement states "The Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) will enrich the lives of all urban Aboriginal youth by nurturing self-empowerment and fostering healthy collaboration and communication to ensure healthy future generations."


The Outside Circle - House of Anansi Press

The Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth

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