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2020 A Year of Research and Reflection : January

post 2/13

Behind the scenes there are so many people who have and continue to lift me as I climb. In January 2020 I was beginning to prepare for my thesis show. I was starting to really appreciate how many people it would take for me to be able to successfully pull it off.

This photo depicts the luscious landscape of a dark skinned Black African queer person’s back. Their back dimples are accentuated by a bright red robe draped just beneath them. Their waist beads are cradled between two rolls of skin that have folded over to kiss each other at the person’s waist. The person sits in a crowd of plants that caress them from all sides. One vine creeps up their back and around their neck before disappearing below their chin. There is an unfortunately place light switch trying and failing mess with the magic of the photo.

There are three photos in this second set. There is a close up of the back kissing it self. In two photos at the end of this post you see the people behind the photo. The second to last photo shows two Black African, queer people in a typical small, semi-cluttered Nyc group house living rooms. One is holding a couple of clamp lights, the other is taking a photo with a smart phone. The last photo shows a Black queer person arranging the plants around the sitter— It takes a village to capture that just right thirst trap photo for tinder bae!

I’m so thankful o be a part of a village of people—chosen families I call them— who show up. Who contribute their presence, time, resources, expertise and general brilliance to help me maintain my well being and realize my work. Without them I would not be possible. I would not be here.

This year brought many challenges. I started the year in a partial hospitalization program battling chronic mental illness, while struggling with my physical health, while fighting like hell to make it through the final semester of an MFA program that made many fantastical attempts to take me out.Then COVID hit. I was still working hard to get to a healthy place mentally and physically( healthcare should be free). My roommate did not believe in COVID and thus did not follow the protocols. I had to move.

I was temporarily displaced to DC.

Then temporarily displaced to Boston.

(Housing should be free)

In Boston I reveled in my first experience of living in a safe, supportive home with people who love me and love themselves ( that part!).

Our home was destroyed by fire. I was displaced again. (housing should be free)

To top off the year,I had to have an emergency tooth extraction during COVID. (healthcare should be free).Through it all my chosen families, my own and that of my loved ones, held me together and held me up on all sides. Thanks to all of you, yes you!

In my artist bio I write about the expansive deliciousness of my chosen families. I describe us as “ecosystems of interdependent people who dare to define ourselves, shape our experiences, and create new worlds and ways of being everyday. We do all of this while living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities.“ I describe my work as being in pursuit of personal and collective liberation.

In truth my life is in pursuit of that goal. The practical research that brings me closer to realizing that goal is in the ways that I am learning through lived experience to cultivate and sustain relationships that are liberated, transformative and generative. Relationships where we are loving ourselves and each other the ways that we individually desire to be loved.

This research is ongoing, it is challenging, it is messy. It requires deep commitment communicated through consistent action that moves us in the direction of a future where we all have what we need to live with ease and thrive. Sometimes it’s really hard. Other times it is as simple as being willing to drop everything and dedicate yourself to helping a friend capture that perfect thirst trap photo for tinder bae.

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