Hiss magazine sounds off on contemporary art

Cover of Hiss Mag issue 2


It’s a sharp sound. The sound of a snake fighting off a predator. The sound of steam expelled through a valve. The sound of disapproval.

Hiss—the magazine—occupies that space of pushing back. Of critique. Of a voice that will be heard.

Created by Heather Taylor (Film & Video, 2015), who serves as Hiss Mag’s editor-in-chief and curator, Hiss provides a space for femme, non-binary, and LGBTQIA artists to gather, to share their work, and educate audiences about contemporary art and culture.

The Hiss Mag voice, said Taylor, is “spunky, adventurous, bold, passionate, and extremely caring.” In a world where commercialized art is often king, and gallery space is all too finite, Hiss provides space specifically for art by marginalized populations. 

Among the many contributors are—in addition to Taylor—several Columbus College of Art & Design graduates, including Nicole Bean (Fine Arts, 2018), Olivia James (Photography, 2014), Molly Jones (Fine Arts, 2018), Camille E. Luscher (Fine Arts, 2017), Kelsey McClellan (Photography, 2012), Hana Mendel (Photography, 2018), Clair Morey (Fine Arts, 2014), Hannah Musser (Fine Arts, 2014), Annie Noelker (Photography, 2018), and Hannah Taylor (Fine Arts, 2018). 

Hiss Mag editor and CCAD grad Heather Taylor

Taylor talks Hiss Mag and her vision for its future below.

How does Hiss contribute to the cultural conversation?

We are trying to fill the void in Columbus, of the typical OHIO art—which is, overall, a very commercialized and “still life” way of work. We are seeking to pull more contemporary, boundary-pushing art into our community. There are A LOT of amazing artists here, and there are some rad gallery spaces for them, but it doesn’t feel like enough, and it seems hard to get into them because their timeline of shows is stretched for the full year. There needs to be more, and we feel having one focused purely for femme, non-binary, women, and LGBTQIA artists is absolutely needed! It doesn’t exist.

Some Hiss contributors are students or recent graduates, while others are people who have shown their work in major venues around the world. Was that an intentional mix? What is the value of having this variety of perspectives?

It is very much an intentional mix. I feel showing artists in all different walks of life and in different stages of their careers is very important for up and coming artists and also for myself and the Hiss crew.

Cover of Hiss Mag Issue 1

You’ve talked about expanding Hiss into a physical space that could include a gallery, an event space, a café, a space for internship opportunities, and a library for other magazines and zines. Can you talk more about that vision and how you hope to achieve it?

This is a strong passion for me right now, and it would be a dream to make it happen. I envision a larger, yet intimate gallery/workspace for us to show work of the artists we have featured, and of future featured artists. A space to hold events based around our mission, and for the community to rent for similar-minded events. A smaller café operation, with a collection of zines and mags from local artists and abroad, to be looked at and possibly purchased. Having a space for interns and even a residency space (future future ideas) would be considered also. Funding is where we are being held back at the moment, but we are working towards that, and excited about! Overall a warm and welcoming yet wacky, artistic space for us queers to feel at home and contemporary art to thrive and blow minds.

Hiss Mag can be found in such outlets as the MoMA PS1 store and Printed Matter in New York; at Quimby's in Chicago; and locally at Dough Mama, Two Dollar Radio, the Wexner Center for the Arts Store, Wholly Craft, the Gateway Film Center, and Small Talk. The release party for Issue 3 of Hiss Mag will be Oct. 18 at the Wexner Center. Issues will be for sale at the release party, which will include videos featured in the new issue, and then will be available for purchase online and in brick-and-mortar outlets after. For more info, follow Hiss on Facebook, Instagram, and on its website.