Dear You, dear border, and hye-phen, and good boi and tranny faggot, and most divine, dear Say Their Name I am learning to love the things about me they call foreign The way my name dances on ten letters and how I carry a border on two backs I thought home was supposed to taste sweet prunes that make a mouth curl into itself and rosewater for exhaling hands In Iran, my mom says, it is custom to give breath to hands In America, everything in the name of redemption Like the way the officer says Iran and then takes my father aside for extra questioning Like the way they say ma’am and I think they mean me What is the name we give for sacrifice, for a rhythm of boundaries or the inhabiting of a space not made Border between what is there and what is not I am beautiful because I sacrificed what was there for what is (not) What is resilient If not the way I tremble before God before Allah before Marsha before Say Their Name before The Next One Dead before those more divine than the blood of our illusions
Artist statement: Colin Laurel
Before visualizing my illustration, I had an eye-opening conversation with Niko, my writing partner, about common ground in our creative practices. I sought to compliment Niko's raw, beautiful prose with a piece where dreams and reality merged into one; I drew from the fantastical nature of reveries and childlike imagination to portray a scene of play between non-binary children of color. This year has been momentous for my work in that I have been granted opportunities to create uplifting imagery for minority groups. In continuing this pursuit, I used our surroundings as a mirror for what we aspire to be--for a youth, that might be a great equestrian; for another, a wild lion. Whichever the cause, I wanted the world around us to reflect positively upon trans dreamers everywhere.
Artist statement: Nikole (Niko) Shahbazian
Resilience is such a difficult concept to express, especially when there is so much hardship and trauma within our communities. I think for Colin and me, our collaboration resulted in conveying the multiplicity of the term resilience, of what it means to describe or portray a resistance that encompasses the variation of our intersections. The result of our collaboration ended up being two distinct depictions of paths, or processes, and also of movement. We both think and sketch in terms of movement, so that was definitely an important theme in the work. For me, I learned that trans liberation is nothing if not rooted in community. I'm also reminded that trans liberation is not an outcome but a continuous process. This collaboration, with Colin and with the other writers and artists, as well as with the supervisors of the project, has helped me realize the influence of this community and the power in this process.