“To be an artist/activist is to put world-making into my own hands as the normative world closes in on itself. From a young age, I lived through the divorce of my mother and father, I spoke in spite of the severe stutters of my speech, I planted roots in spite of the psychological trauma of separation from a motherland, and I loved in spite of this body of a queer woman of color. The white-supremacist, hetero-normative world was one I could never break into. As I watch the Earth draw nearer to its’ human-driven ecological collapse, I felt like I could relate to the disappearance of our planets’ body, the poison ready to burst just beneath the permafrost of the Earth’s skin, because my own world and family was being destroyed before my very the eyes. The only examples of love I were given were failures, or impossible to achieve. Striving toward model minority examples of “success” “obedience” and “marriage” that my parents aspired of me, made me feel like I was cannibalizing my own art and being for survival. Just because we become naturalized in the country we were othered from, doesn’t mean the “otherness” is ever cleansed. Why strive toward normativity when it becomes impossible? Why own the Earth when the possession of it kills you? Perhaps that was why art became truth, and this “reality” – imaginary.
Perhaps this is why art and activism became the closest metaphor for world-making. Through language, image and storytelling, I build the world I’ve always yearned for but never had. A home where I can love, reclaim, speak, and share.
Bless this colored family, bound not by blood but by a constellation of shared loss. Bless the queerness in our bones. Bless our failures and the entire acceptance of all of them. Without you, a future is unimaginable.”
– Jess X. Chen, May 2015
(Goauche on paper, with digital color)
View more at www.jessxchen.com.