Rare Birds and Wild Creatures

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Rare Birds and Wild Creatures

I ran the craft shack at Art in the Woods, a retreat for queer youth with some pretty tough lives. We were blown away by these young people in a way that feels kinda cliché but is also just TRUE—they were amazing, and it was sort of a miracle to work intergenerationally, particularly as we were borrowing art space from Hunter Reynolds, a deeply compassionate artist who survived the Plague. A lot of good bonding took place.

One of the things that I found inspirational about watching the young people work was their absolute delight in materials like spray paint and tulle. They made a wreck out of Hunter's fancy glitter stashes, and ultimately created some really inventive stuff. So, when I was thinking about how I wanted my images to look on a wall, I wanted to channel the glee that the young people took in discovering new materials. I decided to go crazy with spray paint and splurged and got all the colors and textures I was drawn to. Bought a small mountain of cheap but workable frames from Ikea, and went nuts with it.

As I made the test batch on the roof of a faerie friend's loft, I told her, “this is the life that I dreamed of when I was a teenager, and here we are now.” It really felt that way! What a blast.

Patricia: Isn't this part of healing early trauma? To reclaim childhood/teenage-hood and redirect it on our own terms?  There's something empowering about taking charge of the past like that. That certainly happened for me at one point, does it resonate with you? 

Quito: Yes, absolutely, that is definitely part of it, but also—a way forward.  Reclaiming the exuberance and delight of earlier years is sort of a great way to live regardless of your past, as long as you are also responsible when you need to be.

Patricia: Your storytelling slideshow on Monday night was super enjoyable. Slideshows have this form that reveals sequencing very differently than photographs will do on a wall.  You shared the stories around the pictures, but on Dec 19,  you're reading from new writings. 

Quito: The story I’ll be reading on the 19th is from Through, a zine I recently made. It picks up where the pictures drop off: around early 2011, when I came out as trans, remembered a particularly brutal bit of repressed childhood trauma, and lived through a hellish season of PTSD that brought a lot of changes to the life I had known. I hit the road after that and did a lot of my gender-questioning and transition as I wandered in and out of Brooklyn, and went to some pretty dark and deep places with it.  

The influence of these wanderings have been felt in the work I've been doing publicly as an artist, from the Visual AIDS gallery to the moonlight beach parties to the Forest of the Future this past spring, but there hasn't been a way yet to share the many reflections on queer interdependence, DIY recovery strategies, physical transition, and structural transphobia that have driven them.  With Through, I hope clarify for myself the story of the past 3 years, which have been transformational and complicated; to share a narrative with people who are genuinely curious about what I've been going through; but also…I thought there might be something I learned from what I endured that could be useful for others who face (or seek empathy for) similar challenges. You'll have to read it and let me know what you think.


Quito Ziegler's The Queen of Hearts is on view at BGSQD until Dec. 31. This upcoming Thursday, Dec. 19th, Ziegler will be reading passages from Through at BGSQD, 83A Hester Street, NY, NY.

Lead Image: The Dream of Wild Ponies Dancing, Quito Ziegler, 2011.