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Feminal Effigy

Polymer clay, cardboard, charcoal dust, kindling, black pearls, chains

This was a big change for me, scary to share but also cathartic to make. Inspired by the show, Inside the Closet: A Queer Bodied Show, in which this piece debuted. I later wrote a short passage titled "The Embarrassing Nature of Trauma and Late-Stage Queer Discovery," that was displayed alongside this work. I went with my gut when assembling this piece, and tried to let the complicated feelings I felt when I was "inside the closet" develop organically as this art.


Being queer feels like something that has to be revealed, and served to others on a platter. I wish to just exist as a queer person and be treated no different. Yet, because of who I am, I was made to feel the need to hide myself away. The entire piece depicts a part of my history where I laid for so long in despair - before my queer rebirth from the ashes. When I was younger this hate became internalized and developed into dark thoughts. It took time for me to reconcile these feelings and come to life again, and find a way out of this metaphorical box and discover who I was fully. The sculpture inside the burned box also depicts a younger version of me, with long curly hair and nothing else but a skirt. This person felt trapped trying to adhere to female gender norms and sexualized by features of their body they didn't even like.  Amongst the kindling, you can see black pearls, chains, and flowers, which felt symbolic of femininity. This also takes inspiration from the historical meaning of the gay "f" slur which meant kindling.


Overall this piece has multiple meanings to me - how hate towards queer folks felt, how I felt towards myself at times, but also how I feel now wanting to burn away this cringey part of my past - this person who wasn't "me." How I desperately want to carry on as the nonbinary queer person I have always been inside, and leave this former outer self behind to burn away from the world, from memory, from time, turned to ash. 

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