Maylee and I come from very different familial backgrounds. We are also long time pals who have recently discovered how rich this difference can be for our creative process. We are also very different as artists. Maylee conceptually engages in the action of creating. Whereas, I like to think of ideas that embody our creation. Maylee is an artist/musican and I am an academic/artist. Our language and imperative to creatively use time and space may operate on a different frequency, but our coherency as friends who understand our bond to be familial in nature has given birth to a rich awareness for radical self-making and imagination. We are exploring our family rituals, memories, and process in tandem in order to enable space to grow our feminist politics regarding our self-identification as both women and artists committed to community and art.
Our familial memories are related to different affective energies. Our family herstories juxtapose against positive and negative experiences. Self-making is a creative sense-making process informed by our memories and experiences with relationships that have impacted our developing selves. For me food is associated with memories I have with my family. My father is a big movie buff, so eating popcorn and watching movies remains one of the only positive memories I have with him.
While my mother was notorious for hating the task of cooking, our positive moments in time together involved going out for dinner. Often after Wednesday church ( my mom is a dedicated Christian, while I am a recovering queer and dedicated agnostic ) we would often go to Swiss Chalet after our Wednesday evenings with the big JC. On these nights I would only ever look forward to drinking the swiss chalet sauce, while I’m sure my mom would mostly look forward to deep prayer sessions.
As a 27 year old woman, my ritual with chosen family and food has shifted. I am sure my chosen family know about my deep and unreasonable love for all things popcorn to be slightly idiosyncratic. Popcorn is a snack that I eat as ritual of self-care when I am needing to ground, take time and indulge in space just for me. The process of making it, the smell and the relaxed “down time” that comes with eating it is something both reassuring and comforting.
Another example of sites of affective family ritual includes holidays, specifically Christmas is rife with oppressive imperatives to be happy with family.
So for example, you’re a queer who has a lovely family, who appreciates you, does not oppress you for your gender expression and respects and honours your sexuality. Awesome! Unfortunately, Not everyone is as fortunate. Families are triggering, holidays are triggering, and trying to take care of ourselves during these times can be especially challenging. Many queers and non queers alike do not have what i am referring to as ‘positive family privilege’ during the holidays. Coming out as queer or trans may have had incredibly devestating affects on your ability to experience and belong to a family. As a result the notion of ‘family’ ‘ritual’ and big dinners are sites of morning, loss and sadness.
These sites of morning do not mean I am not happy you have positive familial holiday rituals but instead it means I have a chance to learn from my reaction to your priviledge. But also – I would hope that you have a chance to learn that your privdledge with family is one that is not unconsciously observed. But instead is understood as a site of power that many others do not possess.
June 30th is Queer Pride for Toronto. A great deal of my chosen family will be taking part in this holiday that has increasingly become a site of commodification and assimilation.
Instead of taking part in TD Toronto Pride, why don’t you come and consider the notion of familial tradition’s that inform, engage, enrage or oppress our creative energies?
The traditions we are thinking about include dinners, craft-making, and holidays. We want to engage in various craft making workshops/circles ( sewing a patch or more informally creating a bonfire on the beach and sharing stories ) these workshops or circles of activity will bring us together in order to share in the energy/feelings/activities we remember about our family traditions.
This participatory workshop is about remembering, time, family ( chosen or not ) feelings, and rituals that have guided our ability to creatively express ourself through artistic practice.
Please bring a small object/or sentiment along with a story and feeling that is related to your familial story. - a more formal invite will be sent out very soon -