A conversation with
Keri “Koala” Manne
Our Studio Gallery exhibitor creates tales through their character, Keoki! Honeychips; Stories with Keoki, by Keri “Koala” Manne (They/Them), is a collection of stories involving the curious Keoki, a lost soul in search of a missing piece of himself. He meets others who are on quests of their own, accompanying them through their trials. Will the little frog find his contentment in the lessons of others?
How were you introduced to Book Arts?
I found WNY Book Arts via my book and paper arts teacher in college, Timothy Frerichs, at SUNY Fredonia. He spoke very highly of the place, and when I was moving to Buffalo post grad, he recommended I check it out! I recommend giving his work a look, by the way!
Your exhibition features screen print and linocut work, what has your journey with these mediums been like?
It has been a fun learning process, as I hadn’t done linocutting or screen printing before this point. I love to try new things and test my limites with my art, so the opportunity to create in a workshop full of things I’ve never done before was very exciting.
What inspired the story of Keoki?
I’ve had Keoki around in my brain and in my sketchbooks and drawings for a couple of years now. He serves as a symbol to me for different aspects of myself and human beings in general. He’s an innocent, curious, and thick skulled creature. I remember finally finding his motivation on a recent trip to New York. Something clicked and I realized his motivation, like almost everyone, was that he is looking for something. The only thing is, he can’t remember what it is he needs to find. He spends his days searching and searching, and when someone else is looking for something of their own, he gets it in his head that maybe that’s what he needs too.
Have you integrated your own life lessons into Keoki’s journey?
I’ve been trying to put little anecdotes and lessons in my stories that I need to tell myself as well. I’m trying to better myself, as I think most people are, and I need to remember things; like that nothing is perfect and obsessing over perfection is pointless.
What was your biggest takeaway from your residency?
It’s been so amazing having a community of people willing to help and a space provided for someone like myself to just do their thing! My biggest take away is how grateful I am that this space exists in my city, and that we need to work hard to make even more spaces like this everywhere. One thing that I feel is missing in Buffalo is a public paper making facility.
What do you want audiences to gain from your exhibition?
I hope my audience can enjoy my little creature Keoki, and value the zines and posters as little snippets into my head and my sketchbook. I hope they can enjoy the little things like the color palettes and the colored string, because those are the things I care about too.
“I’ve been trying to put little anecdotes and lessons in my stories that I need to tell myself as well. I’m trying to better myself, as I think most people are, and I need to remember things; like that nothing is perfect and obsessing over perfection is pointless.”
This blog post was written by Book Arts Gallery Assistant, Nina Grenga. Nina is currently getting her Master’s at the University at Buffalo in Critical Museum Studies with a concentration in Arts Management.