As the ever-present social tensions in America reached a boiling point in 2020, the desire to move ahead, leaving the horrors to shrink away in the rear view mirror, seemed to permeate the culture of anyone to the left of Mitt Romney. My belief is that, in order to truly move past the inequalities that plague us, we must be hyper aware, hyper vigilant, positive and joyful in our resilience, but angry until there is nothing left to be angry about. I hope the works in this digital exhibit speak to the complicated emotions around moving forward from a history that is saturated in trauma, violence, inequity, and exploitation. With love and outrage.
CW: trauma, PTSD, cartoon nudity
Even the fiercest forces have combated with returning trauma–anxiety isn’t something you can just shake off because grieving isn’t linear. Healing isn’t linear. Knowing this isn’t so overwhelming anymore.
Whenever I disassociate I tug on my hair that trails to the knot around my souls ankles
and I pull them back down into my anchored body again.
Most of us localized to Boston understand the creeping severity of displacement and evictions that have been affecting marginalized communities–mainly Latine and Black families. Rewind to the end of March into April of 2020, we were entering the beginning of the global pandemic and the financial devastation and emotional trauma that followed it. The inflammatory threats of gentrification in Boston already rampant, have escalated even further during COVID-19. We are seeing slumlords (small and large scale) retaliate against their most vulnerable tenants through illegal threats & abusive letters, neglecting standards of health and safety, outrageous lawsuits, and delivering eviction notices now that the temporary moratorium has ended. Now is the time for radicalizing and solidarity- it is time for action and healing. We can keep our neighbors safe by creating genuine long-lasting bonds, learning about both our shared and unique struggles, strategizing a common goal, and agitating the current system of Capitalist ideologies of property. The rent strike movement was born out of radical thinking; although striking is not every union or association or organizations’ current capacity or goal–we are realizing our abilities through collective love and rage.
Artist Bio: Radical and magical– Fe is a Themme-fatale creating illustrations and animations meant to empathize and agitate. Acknowledging they are on stolen land now referred to as Boston, Fe is committed to a life of deconstructing and dismantling and rebuilding however the revolution sees their role fit. We all have necessary abilities to contribute to the abolition of Capitalism– Fe found their place as an educator and artist.
Contact me for prints or to collaborate @ [email protected]
2020 was a year of survival for many. It was the final culmination of a four years-long assault on those that do not conform to White Patriarchal paradigms. It stripped bare not just the abject failure of most of our institutions to addressing societal inequalities, but also their complicity in those problems. With the rollout of a vaccine and the hope for a more stable political environment, 2021 is the year for us to double-down on our human connection to others. Those with the privilege of returning to some sense of comfort have a responsibility to aid those that cannot. 2021 must not be a “return to normal.” 2021 is a time to be aspirational in our capacity to love and comprehend beyond the needs of ourselves.
Jamieson Edson is a multimedia artist working at the cross-section of photography and painting based in Jamaica Plain, MA. They graduated from the Studio for Interrelated Media program at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2015. They have been a Research Assistant for Harvard University’s Department of Art, Film and Visual Arts since 2015.
Freedom is found in the strength in our numbers and is the love that shakes through our voices. Freedom is found in change and acceptance. There is no change if we do not continue to identify our differences and make actions to celebrate them. Freedom comes when we are able to recognize and dismantle our prejudices and allow positive reactions towards what may be ‘different’ from what we are and always known. We are not alone in this fight. I know there is a better world for us. I have seen the change in our movement and a movement in our change. I know joy runs through our songs and laughter through the mist of our adversity. In our double masks and latex gloves we give our all. I know another world is possible. Through photographing several movements in the last six months in the midst of a global pandemic, I wanted to emphasize the progression of Boston movements. Through a chronological perspective, reality appears to become more visually present. It is not just pro Trump propaganda, it is what it always has been. It is bigotry and it is hatred. The veils have been taken down and it only gets uglier as time goes by. There is no need for white supremacy and racism to hide anymore especially not through to the end of Trump’s presidency. Who’s voices are heard more loudly? What truths are allowed to be seen? Who is America and what does that person look like?
Anthony Peyton Young
In 2021, and beyond, I hope we turn to what reminds us of our own magic. That feeling of belonging you get from the sea, or the sky, or the stars…the way the wind whispers in a language your heart knows. I hope we can be brave enough to protect and nurture our softness with boundaries, and make our relationships a mirror of the world we want to live in. I hope we can become more limber in our union with linear time, enough to live in the space where we understand that when we imagine something, we are actually future-creating in the present moment. Every thought is a seed.
Leilah is a Boston-bred creator, writer, stripper, and healer. As a queer abolitionist, femme, sex worker, and two-time survivor of partner abuse, she sees opportunity in unconventional strategies for dismantling interpersonal and systemic violence. She currently lives in Brooklyn, where she can be found telling dad jokes to her cats and running A Stripper’s Guide™, her virtual suite of healing programs. To work with her directly, or to book her for speaking, writing, or performance engagements, invite her by emailing [email protected]
At first glace, one might find this image amusing – the quirky portrait of a man winking and
smiling. But upon closer inspection, we can see that there’s something more insidious
happening. His face is being pressed against the glass and his lips are busted.
In America, minorities are so often told to stay quiet about their oppression. When we do
decide to speak up, they tell us that our methods are wrong. That we are too loud. To shut up
and dribble. We’re told to wink and smile while we’re being brutalized, choked, beaten, shot
Meanwhile, white supremacist terrorists, can just walk into the Capitol building, trash the place,
steal government property, leave a trail of dead bodies behind while the president of the
United States cheers them on, and the police barely do anything about it.
Then they’ll try to convince us that “This is not America. This isn’t what America is about”
NO this is exactly what America has always been about. Until we become willing to have an
honest look at our condition, we will be destined to repeat this cycle of bigotry and injustice.
On March 23rd, 2020, Daniel Prude, a 41 year old Black man experiencing a mental health crisis, was murdered by police in Rochester NY. His brother, Joe, had called police asking for help finding Daniel, who had run out of the house without clothes. Police found Daniel naked, wandering the street in 30 degree weather. They zip tied his hands behind his back, sat him down in the middle of the road and, when he threatened to spit on them, tied a “Spit Hood” over his head. Daniel began to panic, and officers pinned him down for several minutes until he stopped breathing.
Daniel Prude’s murder by police took place more than two months before George Floyd was murdered, yet was not made public until September 2, 2020 when Rochester-based, Black-led activist group Free the People ROC held a press conference on the steps of City Hall and subsequently released the video from the body camera footage. The entire incident had been covered up by the police and the Mayor’s office.
I live in Rochester. Like many of my fellow activists, I spent the summer marching in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Stephon Clark, Philando Castille… So when Free the People issued a Call to Action on September 2nd, the community showed up. Since that day, we have been incessantly gassed, hit with rubber bullets, subject to sonic weapons and flash bombs, threatened with dogs and tanks, bullied, pushed, chased, dragged, arrested, and beaten by police. We have continued to show up, organizing under Black leadership, marching in every neighborhood in Rochester, calling for Justice for Daniel Prude.
In late October I bought a plastic bag full of 1950’s paper dolls for 50 cents at the Rochester Public Market. Wearing nothing but undergarments and a pageant-style banner with names like “Jack” and “Judy”, these lily-white paper kiddies radiated a vintage glow of white supremacy. But when I laid them all out together, their potential to transform into something more powerful unfolded. So I radicalized them – removed their names and added gas masks, shields, banners, boots and helmets. Instead of posing for a pageant, these dolls now stand in solidarity, outfitted in the regalia of the resistance movement and carrying the tools of the peaceful protests of 2020.
Tara Nelson is and artist and Curator of Moving Image Collections, Visual Studies Workshop
Rochester, New York
Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer? Will you come closer?
Normalize drug use and create safe spaces to talk about it honestly- I know I’m not alone in losing friends this past year. Carry Narcan and learn how to use it. Practice harm reduction with yourself and others. We take care of us- community care is the only thing that’s gonna get us out of this shit alive.
he first time that I remember doing anything creative with the flag was when I used it as a bedspread while I was in high school. At the time it was a pretty transgressive thing to do, and also a typical hippie affectation. We were at war with Vietnam, (my brother was stationed there). There were huge regular antiwar rallies and protests. Having long hair and a certain style of dress – for “men” especially, were considered strange and freakish. Hippies started identifying as “Freaks” to transform this common epithet into a positive term. I certainly remember being called a freak and faggot for the way I presented myself.
A lot of time has passed since then and a lot has transpired too. Yet things aren’t feeling so different. In some ways they seem worse. We as 1970’s hippies were questioning the flag as a symbol. Flag burnings at protests were very controversial and common. The practice was regularly debated and legislators tried to make the practice illegal.
Now decades later the flag has crept into my artwork in lots of ways that I would not have predicted. I have used them as a backdrop for portraits, as the main elements of installations, and in perforative pieces. Starting this past September on the first, I cut out a star a day from an assortment of American flags that I have collected. I posted a photograph, of the star, online each day and asked others to join me. I continued this though the election.
The flag is and has become, for me, a very important symbol to question and “interrogate”.
I was taught that America was the leader of the free world, and that the flag was a symbol of that freedom. In fact these “freedoms” are actually the trophies of a genocide this country enacted on the original inhabitants of this continent.
What I was taught and believed when I was very young has certainly proved to be false. What I was questioning as a teenager about our war with Vietnam and the patriarchy, was only the tip of the iceberg.
This week has brought a looting mob of white militant extremists to the capital building in DC.
They bought with them the American flag as well as the Confederate flag! Have these two flags now joined forces? Do they now mirror each other? Are they actually the same flag?
The flag for them seems to be a symbol of hate and anger, as well as pride, and remembrance of a time when their privilege was less threatened.
I am wondering what the national flag actually means to me now. I see it as a threat and a regular background of static producing anxiety. My work with this media and subject is an ongoing questioning of my witnessing a time where I feel shaken, and the county is both shaken and is vulnerable both literally (though Covid) and metaphorically on many fronts.
This is also the second time in my lifetime where government inaction during a public health crisis has caused preventable deaths on a large, even huge, scale. The current Covid crisis mirrors the AIDS crisis in the way the government has ignored and minimized the threat and consequences.
My work with the flag is fueled by my anger, sadness and frustration of an American dream that has proven to be a myth in so many ways.
This is a journal entry that conveys the fervor of our current political landscape. I view the people as bodies, mouths and faces that do not contain a singular voice, but a collective mass which merges with each other and dissolves into flames. When I think of Onward for 2021 I do not think there will be resolution; I do not think the echo chambers of a rigid two party system will give way to anything significant. Our county is at such a nadir we will settle for decorum and semblance of “normalcy”. My desire to see great leaps in healthcare, infrastructure, social/economic justice, and our environment will be dashed because the threat of fascism is real. It is at our doorstep if not has already stepped onto the threshold or in all honesty has always lived within our walls. A halo is used in jest as everyone believes their political convictions are righteous and true and we all know that one person that will explain to you why.