It is astounding how much can change in a year.
At the onset of 2018, I was adrift, stuck in a career I deeply disliked and stung by the loss of my place in two different, yet connected communities central to my sense of self—the small honors college I graduated from in 2013, and academia, which I decided to leave for good in 2016.
I studied international relations and development studies—first at New College of Florida, a deeply formative and complicated honors college, and later at a graduate level. I then went on to a short lived stint in a PhD program, studying globalization and gender studies through a sociological and anthropological lens.
I did all of this with the intent of using my degrees to fight for social justice—but the high stress environment, insurmountable workload and disillusionment building since my undergraduate years finally caught up to me. I was navigating higher education as a first generation college student and as an immigrant, facing down the expectation to move and work for free in internships as a means of facilitating future paid opportunities and suffering from non-profit poverty wages and tackling loads of graduate student work for little pay.
The decision to abandon my plans was gut wrenching. I saw a lot of my personal politics grow, develop and mature in my early twenties as a student, and I met many people that shaped me. As an undergraduate, I hatched my now foiled plans for a career in climate and refugee justice. Pursuing something you consider a dream for nearly a decade, only to leave it behind, is incredibly challenging. I was left flailing.
Becoming disconnected from and disenchanted with academia left a void. But at my darkest moment in 2018, light came into my life in the form of a partner, who in turn introduced me to the vital hotbed of lesbian community and herstory, the journal Sinister Wisdom. I skimmed a few of my partner’s many issues and fell in love with the conversations, support, occasional disagreements and community I found in its pages. I looked to my lesbian forebears and contemporaries, and felt their guidance as I learned to grieve old community while fostering the new.
I will always be grateful for discovering Sinister Wisdom, a microcosm of the larger sapphic sisterhood that has become my community—a place for me to reconnect with myself and my sense of purpose, which I express through my art.
My main medium is collage. I compose each piece of primarily hand-torn fragments taken from magazines and books which I carefully layer for depth and texture. I love incorporating vivid colors—think striking, unique pictures ranging from bombed out ruins to cityscapes, images of space, oceans, mountains and plant life; with a queer, confrontational edge. I find inspiration from the act of reclamation—taking images of women, often nude, captured or depicted by men, and reimagining them into lush, lesbian landscapes.
Through art, I connect with my newfound community. It’s a more organic, effortless way to pursue my passions in absence of an academic frame. My hunger for justice and my desire to speak on matters of identity, marginalization, collective suffering and collective liberation find home in my collages.
The Sinister Wisdom 2020 calendar marks my shift from isolation towards this sapphic communion. Radical calendars are particularly meaningful in this transition for me. I submitted my collage “heavenly bodies” to the 2020 calendar, and I am honored to be published there. I’ll see “heavenly bodies” in print exactly one year after my leap-of-faith career change.
The 2020 Sinister Wisdom calendar is a living document of herstory and stunning art—it intertwines protest, women’s movements, labor disputes, international actions and the long arch towards justice and lesbian visibility. The journal itself is a pillar for generations of lesbians—with over 100 issues of art, politics, essays, poetry and fiction published over the course of 43 years. This calendar reflects that.
I draw strength from the other lesbians and WLW enbies published in Sinister Wisdom, and I am honored to be part of the conversations happening in the 2020 calendar.
Some of the fantastic artists featured in the calendar include Mi Ok Song Bruining, whose style blurs distinctions between women and landscape; Sudie Rakusin, a multi-medium artist and longtime contributor to Sinister Wisdom; ggggrimes, a Black non-binary artist from New York City whose vibrant digital illustrations feature LGBTQ+ people of color of all shapes, sizes and abilities; and Art Twink, a queer artist of color who creates soft, yet bold art that combines whimsy with mystical creatures, animals and humans.
To make the choice to prioritize women, to love women without limits, is to expand our own selves. To make that choice is to find a state of being both revelatory and exhilarating in its potential. My heart swells and bursts when I think about my sisters, our herstory, our struggles and our triumphs. I think about the women who came before me, who fought for a world in which I am free to make the connections that sustain my soul, and I am filled with their visionary love.
Through the labor and communion of sapphic sisterhood, each one of us is a flower given the freedom to bloom, part of a cosmic garden of love and liberation. The Sinister Wisdom 2020 calendar is a true celebration of this, as well as a rallying cry to continue the good and difficult work of justice and liberation.