This weekend I had time to just play in my studio. I didn't have any objectives or outcomes that I was trying to complete. There wasn't a task list or a brainstormed list of materials. There was just me, some great music, and my table overflowing with paper, pens, marked up books, and scissors.
There wasn't any COVID. But there were raging wildfires and their oppressive, apocalyptic light. There were numerous protests against governmental oppression in the forms of police murders and endless wars and mass surveillance and civil rights and the ongoing criminalization of poverty. There was the captured moments of pre-dawn freakouts and mental anguish in the form of screenshots of old social media posts.
Between all of the photos of protests and noticeable environmental change and depression and anxiety, there were silly selfies, poetic pictures of succulents, moments on the beach with John, recipes from dinner parties for queer artists, and the neon lights of Taipei. There were sunsets over the ocean from the Mendocino Coast, the moon appearing from behind Carl the Fog, and the vibrancy of cities filled with life and culture and art. It reminded me that we are always existing, surviving, and living amidst such multiplicity.
And it made me want to create, to remix what was into something new. I layered photos on top of one another. Played with recoloring and transparencies, repetition and distortion. Then I added in silhouettes from paper dolls I made as part of my art project Be Jason. I then gave everyone Queerly Complex designs.
This creation of new worlds quieted everything. It allowed me to gain some much needed perspective on this here and now. The recollection of being in the streets protesting the murder of Alex Nieto by San Francisco Police in 2014 reminded me that while COVID is bringing into sharp focus our inequities, these inequities have always been present, especially for Indigenous, Black, immigrant, queer, trans, disabled, and poor folx. Always.
So I can do my part by finding ways to stay present and grounded as more and more folx wake up to inequity, to systemic oppression, to the ways in which the rich and powerful exploit and extract and harm. Celebrating the joys, the beauties, the hopes, the dreams, the desires I feel does not negate all of the horrors of this world. Instead, it gives respite; it is a balm.
Especially, if as we celebrate and create we also mourn and rage and remember and dream and love.
And if you like the T-Shirt in this image, it's available HERE.