This Winter I took a course titled Art and the Body. For our Final Project we were instructed to: Create an icon/image that reflects an aspect of personhood and being made in the image of God. This image can be explicitly Christological or more abstract.
Here is my response:
Before I was born, my parents knew I was going to be a girl. They picked out a denim dress for me to wear as my first outfit. In many ways, a narrative was set out for my life. I was to be a beautiful daughter, embrace my womanhood, marry a good Christian man. I don’t think my parents, or others invested in my life, were distinctly aware of their vision for my life, but I think they grew more aware with time.
At least as I recall, I never liked pink. I avoid dressing up at all costs. I rarely do anything special with my make-up or hair. I was never, not ever giddy about boys. I played Co-Ed Roller Hockey. I bought clothes in the boys section. I made mud slides as a kid. I have and continue to express myself in a way that extends beyond the binary that society has set up for me. When I came out as gay to my parents, I think my mom would likely say that the hardest part was grieving the loss of her daughter as she knew it.
I painted this piece, inspired by Piet Mondrian, as a reflection of how I often feel as a member of society. I look around and I see people continue to play the roles set up for them, expressing themselves as the binary beings they think they are or should be. I don’t feel like I fit. I am not blue, or red, I am yellow. Sometimes I love to be yellow, I think more colors makes something more beautiful and full. Sometimes I hate it, and I feel lonely as a yellow square. Sometimes it seems easier to be red or blue. But for me, it is not honest.
I really look up to Alok Vaid-Menon, a nonbinary trans femme writer, entertainer, and performance artist. These are some of their words:
“Gender is not a binary system. You cannot take billions of people across the world and collapse them into one of two categories without a consideration of their histories, knowledge systems, and cultural practices. There are as many genders as there are people in the world.
Gender non-conforming people are not a minority, we have become minoritized. Because we live in such a deeply racist, misogynist, and classist world — many people have to choose safety over authenticity. We have no idea what people would look like if they were given permission and safety to experiment with their identities and appearances.”
I hope for a day in which the grid all humxnty is free to express all of themselves, all of their intersecting intricacies, detail, seemingly-contradictory parts.
When I look at the piece I created, I like it. It is controlled, organized, easily understood. I used primary colors, I used the most basic geometric shape and created a grid. Humxns like to have control, organization, defined edges. I believe this is why society pushes the binary with immense force, it feels good to understand, define and claim certainty.
If this art is a reflection of humxnity though, how boring! How straight! How clean!
Humxnity is a mess, a multitude of color, an eternal and evergrowing movement of life and love. This art is a commentary on the structure I see in society. But I want to destroy this art. I want it to be ripped up and glued back together in a new form. I want every person to know that the binary is dead, and the only way to live is to express oneself in all of our queerness.
Why are we so afraid of queerness?