Ris Wong

- / Cannon Project Wall

"Trans Lives are Sacred" is an illustration inspired by and in hopeful collaboration with the artist Kait Hatsch's mixed-medium embroidery pieces ‘Sacred Love/Sacred Lives’, celebrating the sacredness of disabled, trans, and queer folks. Trans-ness, as the need to control one's own body, identity, and appearance is defensive, a guard developed to keep from being grabbed and forced into some desired form. This trans reflex of resistant self-definition can extend into an appearance of vicious defense - monstrous tattoos, barbed piercings. 

A quick online search for “vines with thorns” returns mostly questions and advice about how to destroy them, often without considering whether the plant they are part of is native to the natural biosphere, their flower or their fruit. They are considered too complicated to deal with and likely to cause problems. A desire to nurture only expected smooth, similar, and comfortable lives is troubled by a jagged plant growing into an unanticipated shape - an unnerving echo of the ongoing policies all over the world to repress or destroy something not fitting a rigid scheme of boundaries, borders, and binary boxes suitable for data input. 

Trans-ness teaches a jagged resistance to forced categorization and requirements to fit into a fixed spot. Trans people have fought long and sharp for a place in the world to flourish, and so long as grasping hands try to pull them from that place, there will be pricks and

barbs to stop them. Thorns serve a lot of useful purposes. They make plants beautiful, resilient, complicated, and protective - they can grasp and climb and defend themselves and defend others and produce safety for whatever needs that safety. Let them grow their way. 

This exhibition is part of a billboard exchange between Hamilton Artists Inc, in Hamilton, ON, and The New Gallery, in Calgary, AB. For information about Jayden Charles’ work, “Trans Healthcare Saved my Life” head over to imaginarybeasts.net/

Ris (they/them) is a non-binary designer, illustrator, and full-time cat parent. They are an avid learner and teacher (and believer that the dichotomy of those two roles should be blurred) and are always learning how to dismantle power structures that marginalize people and commodify our connections as living beings to each other and to our environment. They are inspired by art and storytelling as a way to communicate our values and history and create community connections.