Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Recommended reading and watching

2017 . 07 . 06 - Comments / Commentaires (2)

Art is never born in a vacuum, and a complex series like Empathetic Magic requires much research. This is a list of some of the texts and documentary films that made my work possible:

Myth of Choice

The Myth of Choice: Personal Responsibility in a World of Limits

This book by Kent Greenfield planted the first seed for Empathetic Magic, allowing me to see that personal responsibility is not everything I thought it was and certainly not the ideal goal for individuals wanting to live together in society. The Myth of Choice has influenced my worldview more than any other nonfiction book I have ever read.


Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights

This book by Kenji Yoshino is the direct inspiration for my series. Part poetry and part history lesson, it deconstructs the complicated relationships we have with ourselves and with society. Its focus on the concept “covering,” which means to minimize something that makes you different from others, helped me to see how we all adjust ourselves for each other.

Virgie Tovar

Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion

This anthology edited by Virgie Tovar made me able to believe in a world where all bodies can be loved. As a straight-sized person, I can’t claim to understand the relationships that fat people have with their bodies or with society, but through this book I got a better idea, and I learned to love my own body a bit more.

Caitlin Wood


This anthology edited by Caitlin Wood provides a small taste of the true diversity of experiences within the disabled community. It inspired me to be a better advocate for the rights of disabled people by pushing the people around me to work at both imagining and creating a more inclusive and accessible world.



This novel by Octavia Butler is my very favorite book, and everything else by Butler is in the number two spot. Kindred tells of a 1970s era black woman who finds herself in the Antebellum South and, for me, it made American history real in a way it never had been before.

Welcome to Leith

Welcome to Leith

This documentary film by Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker shows how a small town reacts when white supremacists move in and try to take over. The story it tells is being played out right now on a grander scale. American radical conservatives are loudly and aggressively claiming their right to free speech, but, like in Welcome to Leith, the true aim of their behavior is to incite violence.



This documentary film by Angela Tucker explains asexuality, dealing directly with the jokey use of the term “asexual” that has so colored the way people understand this identity. It reveals the true complexity of sexuality and encourages viewers to look again at their own identities.

Can We Take a Joke

Can We Take a Joke?

This documentary film by Ted Balaker laments our cultural tendency to get offended too easily while providing a thoughtful and thorough defense of free speech. In particular, it exposes the danger of our online mob mentality, where we shame the villain du jour gleefully without reflecting on how our communal behavior has a chilling effect on expression.

- The myth of control
- Why I can write a book about science even though I’m not a scientist
- Civil rights and multipotentialites

CATEGORIES: - English - Empathetic Magic - Philosophy - Reviews -

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(2) Comments / Commentaires: Recommended reading and watching

-- libby fife -- 2017 . 07 . 06 --


Thank you so much for the great recommendations. It adds to understanding (of course!) how and why your series is shaped the way that it is. I like research too and turn to books when I have questions. It’s heartening to see someone else who does the same thing. Thank you!

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-- Gwenn -- 2017 . 07 . 06 --

@Libby: I think there are more of us than we know who turn to books for answers. I hope so! smile

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