As in, amulet.
As in, an object of protection in a time of despair.
As in, an object of power, reminding us of ours.
As in, a mirror to peer into, to see yourself reflected back – not in the way you are seen by a capitalist, white supremacist, transmisogynist, ableist system, but how are seen by a tree, by a dragonfly, by a mycelial network, by the stars, by your microbiome, by me.
As in, a message from the ancestors, a channeling of their deepest desires for how we might live our lives, remedy what we can, while we still can.
As in, a thing that contains many things. The body as fetish, as amulet.
As in, an expression of our terror, the residue of our fierceness, of our ecstasy, the wet spot on the sheets, the blood on the sword.
To make this work, I enter into a meditative, trancelike state and let my hand be led until the drawing is complete. I have aphantasia, meaning I lack the ability to picture anything at all inside my “mind’s eye”, so this process is my only way of making visible my inner vision. I am always surprised by what reveals itself. Sometimes I am soothed; sometimes I am terrified. I make these drawings from a place of both deep reverence and lighthearted bafflement at the absurdity of the mess we humans find ourselves in, that I find myself in. But mostly I’m just staying present and laying down the endless evidence of my awe at the profundity of existing here and now, in this corporeal body, in this energy body, in the body of community and the body of the earth. The bliss and horror of existing in this moment, in the body of the universe, and also existing, as we do, forever outside of space and time. I love having a body. I take great pleasure in my body, and in other beings’ bodies, but my body is also often a site of pain and grief and is the place where I experience the wide breadth of felt experiences in all their bewildering complexity.
Drawing like this has carried me through periods of deep grief, through transitions that have been devastating, self-shattering, and at times, sublime. I have grappled with the physicality of being a birthing and nursing parent of a child who struggled almost impossibly to eat, of free-falling through losses and heartbreaks in quick succession, of coming to terms with time’s ravages on my body, of facing acute and chronic illness, of living through my body’s ever-unfolding experience of gender and sexuality, of navigating, with all of you, the minefields of three years of a global pandemic. My quiet, ritualistic habit of rhythmically moving my hand across the paper, viscerally transmuting my lived experience into manifest form, has been a portal, a tunnel safely through.
I lay these drawings down as markers on the trail, to help me remember who I am under my skin, to keep me grateful for the chance to have a body, to live a life. Each drawing becomes a fetish: a divinatory transmission through the body, and a multilayered reflection on what it is to have a body, in its multiplicity. We are all mortal, vulnerable, sometimes visibly wounded, but we are also timeless, perfect and exalted.