Digital Illustration (and double self-portrait).
This piece captures my experience as an artist and trans person struggling to survive one of the hardest years of my life, and coming out the other side transformed. In March 2020, I went from “getting by” to truly wondering if I would be homeless, and that combined with my gender transition caused a paradigm shift I struggled to make sense of. Suddenly, I was confronted with the question “is the traditional idea of success in a world so steeped in systemic unfairness a moral cause?”
Just as I had begun to question my gender, I had to examine my preconceived notions about economics, race, and fairness. What was I working for? To be a member of a society that treats wealth as a virtue and marginalizes the different? To conform to a way of life formed by a lifetime of capitalist/corporatist programming? I began to truly see how these ideas had infected how I saw myself and interacted with the world around me.
I have childhood memory of standing in the Officer BigMac jail and feeling let down. I grew up in a small town that did not have a McDonalds and I had jealously imagined how it would be. Here I was, and it smelled like rancid burgers. That might be my first memory of being disappointed with the promise made by advertising but as I sat there in 2020, it came back to me vividly. I felt like my potential had been jailed in some corporate idea of a life.
The self-destructing woman disguise from the 1990 film Total Recall is – as a trans-masculine person – probably a bit easier to understand. The layers of social programming were being violently thrown off so that I could become the self I had always carried within.