Why the group decided to do what they did:
We worked at our individual homes/studios as we didn’t have access to a convenient shared space dedicated to art making. I offered my studio space across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago, as a free meeting place, but it was difficult to synchronize our schedules especially during Critique Week. Jamila and I were living with a lot of stress due to the nature of the degree requirement that shifts all activities at The School of the Art Institute for the week. I offered for us to meet remotely so we could have tea and make art separately but together. We didn’t limit ourselves to a medium but instead we tried to stay with wood as a surface to work on.
Carol painted, and Jamila painted and collaged, and I sanded, made rope, and braided. Kerry’s work is still in progress, but deals in re-collection. I harvested and dried a witches’ broom, a literal site of trauma. I sanded its rough edges and thanked it for growing. The thing itself is seen as a problem. I identify with this, always already being a thing derided. The hand spun yarn, died with Lavender flowers, and Jamaica tea/Hibiscus flowers are twisted into a rope (the colors of the Transgender flag and Brown), then tied, then braided. It may be a talking stick or a witches’ broom. A tool that facilitates community or a tool that cares for space. Ancient tools of the Original Peoples.
What the process of working together was like:
Working together has been extremely rewarding and difficult at times. Some people need to listen more, and others need to share more. But that is the nature of group dynamics. Elders are a blessing, as is having the space to hold each other’s attentions. Intentionally holding space is reparative in nature. We repaired ourselves because we were allowed to repair ourselves.
What folks learned along the way about each other, themselves, and intergenerational LGBTQ+ relationships:
We learned that we all have inherent value, and when we share our experiences, we collapse the space(s) in between us. We become, Us.
What the final project ended up being:
The final project is four very different pieces of art that each represent Us as unique individuals with infinite wisdoms to share and shoulders to lean and/or to cry on. A painting (Carol), a future photo and fabric collage (Kerry), a painting with collage (Jamila), and a sacred object (Juanx/John). Unique and dynamic, no longer alone in the world.
For My Family/Famlia
Juanx/John Sexton Cornejo
November 20, 2022
We are starlight.
We, are stars.
We are the sand in between our toes.
We, are the land.
We are the dirt, and mud, and worms wriggling.
We are vast, and tough, and soft.
We are so much more than they will ever see. Or know. Or fear.
We have always, already been here.
We aren’t going any–where.