Sebastian was a soldier and emperor’s guard in Rome. In private, he practiced Christianity and was responsible for the conversion of a number of Roman notables. Eventually, the emperor caught Sebastian at his faith and ordered him executed. Young warriors repeatedly shot the man with arrows, leaving him for dead. Miraculously, Sebastian lived and was made whole again. On his return to Rome, Sebastian ridiculed the emperor for his sins and was once again ordered to execution. He was beaten to death.
Trans Sebastian is watercolor, metal foil, and paper fragments on paper. There are thirteen arrows piercing Sebastian in the image, echoing our US American past and highlighting what the artist perceives as a sacred Queer number representative of change (13 or 1+3=4). The strips of paper contain fragments from suicide notes and published studies on Trans mortality. The setting is local to the Los Angeles area, within Santa Clarita. Sebastian is depicted in a tin-based silver foil.
“Saint Sebastian reinterpreted as a Trans Man is the perfect reflection for what I see happening to Queers in the United Stated. The arrows of Rome that nearly took Sebastian the first time are no different than the contemporary arrows of hate and transphobia that permeate US Christianity today. The violent reaction to Sebastian’s Christianity is no less shameful than violence enacted on Queer peoples by the self-claimed US Christians. What is miraculous, is that we—the odd, different, and strange— continue to get up and to thrive.” – Artist K Ryan Henisey