She/They’s Rebirth Art Exhibition at 11:11 Cafe on Saturday was a wonderful and moving display of art, poetry and music.
The collective has put on a few events in the past, the first being July 14th of last year.
As you entered 11:11 Cafe, a variety of art pieces were displayed on the first floor. Artists/performers are always encouraged to submit to the events and there were clearly many involved this time around.
Everyone soon made their way upstairs for the poetry and music presentations. The mass of people who showed up were seated on the vintage furniture scattered throughout the room or just huddled on the floor.
Ash Cheshire began the event by reciting an extended She/They bio. If you aren’t familiar, here is a bio from Facebook: “She/They is a collaborative, multidisciplinary art collective based in Frederick, Maryland, representing womxn, femme, trans, and nonbinary artists.”
The first poem was titled “A Love Letter to the Body After a Miscarriage” (read the full poem here) The emotional heartfelt poem by Anna See-Jachowski recalled the deep, painful experience that no one could ever prepare you for. It set the tone for those who presented after as the main link between every poem seemed to be the vulnerability of the human experience, especially as someone who may not fit into what many deem as a “normal” convention of society.
The audience provided a safe and supportive space for everyone involved – It was noted that you can feel less pain and loneliness by grouping together as life’s difficult obstacles/challenges present themselves.
Another notable presentation was Miriam Julianna Sutton who folded birds while delivering a heartfelt emotional testimony about AIDS/homelessness and human compassion. I’ve posted the whole thing below because of how powerful it was (from the facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/searchingforeon/)
“I fold birds in memory of the first living breathing gay person I ever met.
When they were born their mother said: “Her name is Gabrielle.”
The nurse in the room heard: “Her name is Fabrielle.”
Fabi was the gayest baby on Earth, all the way to when they came out to us as trans and asked us all to can the name Ian.
Ian worked in Chicago with youth affected by HIV/AIDS and homelessness when they started having symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and loss of vision. They had graduated with their master’s in social work, so when it was time to go ask for care, they went to the University of Chicago’s Emergency room. There the doctor at intake looked at Ian, a trans person with no health insurance, and said, “You know, a lot of times trans people are just psychosomatic. Go home, get some sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning.”
A month later, Ian lost consciousness during a house visit and a tumor was found on their brainstem.
Back home in DC, I was working an office job in Georgetown. With my mind on my friend receiving treatment in Chicago I started folding origami cranes to cope with the anxiety I was feeling. Every sticky note and receipt got folded up, and I was able to just get through, day to day.
On my last trip to Chicago, Ian couldn’t speak anymore because of the size of the tumor. I was told to learn ASL lettering. The next day every time Patrice (Ian’s partner) would leave the room Ian became a flurry of hand signs. They were telling me, letter by letter, where in their apartment the engagement ring was hidden. Could I please go find it, bring it to the hospital, and help Ian propose to Patrice?
I went to Ian’s apartment, found the ring, then went to Trader Joe’s where I bought alphabet cookies to spell out W-I-L-L Y-O-U M-A-R-R-Y M-E?
Patrice said yes, and I decided to fold my first 1,000 birds as a wedding gift to Ian and Patrice.
In Japanese culture, you get a wish when you dedicate yourself to folding 1,000 so my plan was to give both the birds and the wish to Ian and Patrice.
On November 9th, 2016- the day after Donald J. Trump was elected President, Ian died.
I continue to fold birds in celebration of them, and with the hope that by sharing their story with you each one will be a seed of empathy that will bring to blossom a world where everyone is seen as they deserve to be seen regardless of gender identity.”
Next was the two musical performances.
Darien Aubinoe – Simplistic indie songs with soulful singing and heartfelt lyrics. Finger picked/strummed clean electric guitar drives while the honest and sometimes fragile voice gives way to genuine emotion. Plenty of oos and hooks. The surprise comes with the slight angst edge in the last song performed.
Model House – A one-off supergroup of sorts – Many members from different local bands (Max Detrich (Gloop), Matt Jachowski (ex Cheshi/Ghost Hotel), Brendan Chittick (Baby Razors), Abby Chapple… Loud New wave with punky vocals. The group all donned some futuristic looking sunglasses as they performed, definitely giving off a Devo feel. High energy music with a rambunctious stage presence from all members. A fun moment was when the band ended one of their songs with a Nancy Sinatra “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” outro.
The event ended in an almost party like fashion which was appropriate given the heavy topics discussed throughout. She/They continues to deliver meaningful shows with diverse creativity on all ends.