I wept the day I learned of Shade Schuler’s death. I’d never met her, hadn’t seen her picture until that morning, but I’d just finished the portraits of Lamia Beard, Ty Underwood, Jazmin Vash Payne, Taja de Jesus, Penny Proud, Bri Golec, Kristina Gomez Reinwald, London Chanel, Mercedes Williamson and India Clarke. The quick succession of portraits brought only sadness; death lingers heavily on the United States.
In just weeks, more names were added to the list of those destroyed: K.C. Haggard, Amber Monroe, Elisha Walker, Kandis Capri, Ashton O’Hara, Tamara Dominguez, Jasmine Collins, Keyshia Blige, Keisha Jenkins, and Zella Ziona.
Transgender women face a one in twelve chance of being murdered in the United States; Transgender women of color have a one in eight chance.
#SayHerName is a twenty-one piece set of 18 x 24 watercolor and ink portraits of Trans Women killed in the Untied States during 2015. Each piece is painted in reds and blues with negative white space as a dra- matic contrasting element. This red, white and blue color scheme reflects the citizenship of the women and the culture that produced their deaths. Paint is splattered across the pristine white of each page, representing the violence each woman faced. The backgrounds number their murders as reported (not the order that they occurred).
K. Ryan Henisey is a queer artist in Los Angeles. The art in his #ArtToEndViolence collection celebrates a passion for important and challenging social justice issues juxtaposed against a veneer of pop art. The superficiality of the genre draws attention to the violence perpetuated against communities marginalized by the dominant culture by forcing the viewer to confront what is meaningful. http://kryanhenisey.com
I don’t know what to say to you because the things that you say to others and the things you don’t say to me already ring with the sounds hate, discrimination, and everything you taught us not to be.
I see when you comment on news articles. They trickle through my feed.
I see your posts to each other. They’re difficult not to read.
I can see the things you like and the people in your life.
I can see when you do nothing.
I can see you.
I can see.
Your gleeful support of men and platforms which have clearly stated their hatred for Queers, Muslims, Black Americans, women, and the disabled is confusing and upsetting.
That support echoes: at worst, of the bully-boys on the school yard teasing me to tears; at best, of the silent, sneering children as the others called their jeers.
Would you see me converted through electroshock therapy?
Am I to blame, in my queerness, for the nation’s faults?
Do you believe that our fellow citizens should register based on their religion?
Or that women are objects for men to taunt and abuse?
Do you believe that a publicly operating business should be able to turn me away simply for a perception of queerness?
And for that matter, do you even support my right to marry?
Do you think I’m evil?
Your behavior, your silence, and your support for these men and platforms leads me believe that the answer to each is yes.
Yes to torture and to blame. Yes to abuse and to discrimination. Yes to the perception of evil.
Dear family. I don’t know what to say to you because the things that you say to others and the things you don’t say to me already ring with the sounds hate, discrimination, and everything you taught us not to be.
As an artist, I’m familiar with losing. Showing in today’s highly creative and competitive art market is difficult and often comes with rejection. Indeed, every exhibition I’ve been a part of was preceded by at least ten rejections.
This morning, I’m reminded of what it means to lose — only this time it’s on a national scale. As a vocal Clinton supporter, I’m legitimately scared of the road ahead. Will the progressive strides we made stumble along our new path? Will xenophobia and misinformation become primary values? These are the questions echoing in my heart and on my newsfeed.
But as a frequent loser (which is really the only way to become a frequent winner) I have a few tips for moving forward:
1. List five things that are good. Whenever you feel the world caving in, think of five good things. I’ve found that when I fill my mind with thoughts that bring me joy; there is no room for those that bring me down. On rough days, I may list for hours, counterbalancing negativity with weights of gold. (example: hummingbirds, my memories of Egypt, the glow of neon ink, the way he smells, that sunset from the plane flying home last week)
2. Distract yourself (or ‘idle hands are the devil’s playground’). Nothing steers a downward spiral as deeply as inactivity. Your brain is chemically constructed to solve problems. When it can’t find a solution, your body activates hormones that trigger depression. This is because the chemicals that help your brain solve problems are the same chemicals that produce depressed thinking. So do something! Paint, draw, exercise, go go a walk, call a friend, play a video game, read a book — do anything. The distractions give your brain a chance to rest (and to heal).
3. Be kind to yourself (so you can be kind to others). Part of moving forward is taking care of yourself. This means getting up the next morning, brushing your hair and teeth, bathing, dressing well for the day, and any other ritual to help you succeed. Taking care of your body, your responsibilities, your job, and your health help ensure that you stay balanced and kind, especially when faced with adversity. Being kind to yourself sometimes means leaning in to routine. That’s okay! Living life is the best way to adjust to a new normal.
4. Remember your triumphs. You can’t win everything — not in art and definitely not in life (or politics). And that’s okay. When faced with rejection, I like to remember my triumphs. Wherever you are in life, you have made accomplishments. What are they? Some may be easy to identify, such as degrees and awards. But do you speak another language? Have you impacted the life of another? Have you created something with your hands? Can you cook? Triumphs are all around us; we just have to remember to look.
5. Create a random act of love. Losing is hard. It feels awful — a pit in the stomach or an ache in the heart. Luckily, we are multifaceted beings capable of layered emotional responses. Like a painting, we can conceal or reveal our depths with knowledge and practice. I often find it difficult to hold on to my anger or disappointment when congratulating a friend on their success, when complimenting a stranger, or when helping another. Find a way to be kind. It’ll change your day along with another’s.
I’ll close with this thought: I often see a homeless man on my morning commute. His name is Phillip. He gives a blessing to everyone with passes by, whether they give a dollar or not. He is a barometer to me, reminding that no matter how difficult life may feel, there is always room to bless another. If Phillip can find the goodness in the face of all his adversity, so can I.