today you think about fear & fear it but you do not die today your black ass walks to the corner store or makes it out of bed & where are the bells? where is the city on fire for you? where the chorus of nigga, you made it? & yes, of course you did today your black ass walks to the corner store & you pour one out with each step & your block becomes ancestor too drunk on the living, which is you today you inspire today your black ass conjure spirit like perennials in concrete & yes you did that shit for to water is to love is to feed & you have been over/flowing of course you have you care & you love & you love & you love so much you hold both a hot thing & nature’s milk for to stay is to carry so much your black back be water & bridge so much your black ass be cargo & like any goddexx you are scorned & become the fire anyway let it be okay to burn without signal flare let it be known the first brick thrown was meant to strike yesterday your black ache swelled but today you are here & what is resilience if not vengeance a heavy stream of salt poured down the throat of all that should oppose your daily bloom those who deserve it who never deserved you for this you feel lighter & for this, endless libation for this, gardens wherever you roam & this block be yours & this world, now yours yea tho you walk yea tho you rise tho bitch you are here & this, too, is a form of resurrection today you are & you are not afraid & what mistake what divine miracle
* note: “black ache” inspired by the work of artist Blache Marie “a hot thing” a line from Toni Morrison’s Beloved
Artist Statement: Amir Khadar
My art creation process begins with reflecting on literature, as my visual art practice grew out of my work as a poet. I get images from the writing I digest, and I turn those images into visual art pieces. In the case of this project, kiki’s poem was my reference, and as their poem evolved, my piece changed to fit our intended narrative. Through working together, we created a symbiotic relationship, mutually inspiring each other to push our creative processes further. Our shared identity as Black trans artists created a connection and a space for unfiltered brainstorming. The star tarot card, water, Oya, and blackness were our central themes because they all brought up questions about the power of change and balance that spoke to the emotional, physical, and mental transitions trans people endure. The star tarot card was a reference for composition and imagery. I wanted to stay away from clichés of depicting black and trans people, mainly emphasis on genitalia, or drawing unnecessary attention to secondary sexual characteristics. I instead focused on the beauty and magic of being Black & trans. After understanding how kiki’s poem was universal to Black trans experience, a choice was made to collage the face, to depict an identity that wasn’t alienating, but allowed the viewer to impose multiple identities onto the figure, a Black trans femme walking on water, juxtaposed with jesus. The rest of the piece flowed around the face.
Artist Statement: kiki nicole
how do we practice a radical acceptance of our Black trans femme rage? as an artist and writer, my work largely feeds off my emotions, piscean and all-consuming. this is my personal practice of witnessing myself and allowing all aspects of a life, all reactions and over/reactions, all love and hurt and pain and contentment to exist without judgement and insist the world do the same. working alongside Amir, we vibed off each other’s work immediately and suddenly the “you” of my poem became the “we” and the “I” and the “they.” behind the scenes, they conjured Oya, I conjured the corner store. we learned and drew inspiration from each other and found the home of our Black Femme with the water. that is, we found our ancestral power in this femme. I became inspired by Amir’s divine drafts and worked my piece to highlight the strength of the visual detail of the artwork.
they are wholly theirs. this femme is Black as hell, unsexed, the beginning and the end—they know that, and are tired of you taking advantage of it. their lineage, a reclamation of breath, a call to action, a call to rest. a Black trans femme, armed and ready. a Black trans femme, alive and well.