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GSC Spring 2022 Virtual Exhibition: "Envisioning Ourselves as Creator"

Message from the Co-Curator Heading link

Welcome to the Gender and Sexuality Center’s (GSC) Envisioning Ourselves as Creator online exhibition!

This exhibition highlights five original poems from Iana Amiscaray and six featured artworks from three artists: Shaunie Berry, Henry Hung Chang, and Symphonnii Smith-Kennedy. The birth of this exhibition began as an exploratory project about Queer & Trans culture in the arts when Iana was working with the GSC over the summer of 2021 as a graduate assistant. During her time with the GSC, she reconnected with her own creative spirit and intersecting identities.

The exhibition is intended to be explored at your own pace. Each art piece inspiring each poem. At the end, there are some reflective questions for you to meditate on. You can also learn more about our featured artists and support their work.

I hope the poems and artwork inspire you to create and, most importantly, remind you that you are a beautiful creation.

Moisés Villada
GSC Associate Director

About the Poet and Co-Curator Heading link

Iana Amiscaray is a second-generation Asian American poet and multi-disciplinary creative whose work deals mainly with Queerness, spirituality, and her cultural roots. Ever since middle school, she has gravitated toward poetry as her main outlet for creative expression and she has found joy and purpose in writing as a personal, spiritual practice. Iana is currently completing her master’s degree in Education Policy and Leadership, and upon graduating, plans to dedicate her service to creating positive and sustainable change with and for LGBTQ+ communities in Chicago and beyond. Iana is a Chicago native and now lives back in her home neighborhood of Rogers Park. She is a Sagittarius sun, Taurus Moon, and Cancer rising who is always eager to connect with others on all things astrology.

Pictured Left: Iana Amiscaray

Artist Statement Heading link

Maraming salamat sa mga Babaylan ng nakaraan, mga ninuno ko. Thank you to the Babaylan of the past, my ancestors. Envisioning Ourselves as Creator is a series of poems and visual art pieces that depicts two journeys; the first journey about my transition from Christianity to a pre-colonial spirituality rooted in cultural inheritance, and the second journey about remembering the transformative and creative power we hold (individually and collectively) as Queer people.

Queerness and spirituality have always been intertwined personal experiences for me—I think it comes back to the conflation of Queerness with sinfulness and the ways that it is demonized in popular culture. To defend myself from that constant, oppressive messaging, I sought out the divinity in Queerness. That’s when I began to learn about the Babaylan (pre-colonial Filipinx/a/o shamans, healers and leaders) and heeded a calling that showed me that my Transness is an honor, an invitation toward godliness.

CALLED Heading link

Shaunie Berry   ♦   Title: Spirit   ♦   12″ x 12″   ♦   Medium: Marker and Oil Pastel on Paper
Symphonii Smith-Kennedy   ♦   Title: Creation of UC   ♦   Dimension: 9″ x 12″   ♦   Medium: Acrylic Gouache and Acrylic Ink

Interlude I Heading link

red leaves on bottom left and top right with poem text
Symphonii Smith-Kennedy   ♦   Title: Is Heaven on Earth?   ♦   Dimension: 18″ x 24″   ♦   Medium: Acrylic Paint

FALLEN Heading link

A blue figure rests beside a body of water holding a lotus leaf. There is a sculpture of a head floating on the water besides the figure. On the sculpture stands a three-legged bird. Its one leg grabs bamboo flowers. On the other side of the blue figure, there is a bell. A hand holding a lotus flower emerges from the water. Another figure sits in the background on a bamboo culm appearing from the water, and beads pearl-like seeds into belts. The culm is engraved with Mandarin manuscripts. There are giant lotus plants behind them. Both figures and the bird wear a beak-like mask. Further in the background, there is a headless figure making Varadamudra gesture, which symbolizes compassion and boon-granting. The color of the sky progresses from blue to warm red.
Henry Hung Chang   ♦   Title: When Bamboo Flowers   ♦   Dimension: 18” x 22″   ♦   Medium: Watercolor and Gesso on Paper

Interlude II Heading link

Red leaves on bottom left and top right with poem text.
Lotus plants are woven into a shape of a circle. Koi fish and Cicadas are hidden among the plants. Two figures are sitting in a meditating position in the middle of the image. They hold and raise one another’s hand; wrists hanging at eye-level. One figure is the color of violet and the other is light blue. There is a stem growing into one figure’s chest cavity from the side of their body. Both figures are sealed with a spell on their chest. With their second hand, each figure holds a budding lotus flower. One Lotus appears to be double-floored (chongtai 重台), which happens when the pistil of the flower grow into another flower.

Henry Hung Chang   ♦   Title: Roundness   ♦   Dimension: 18” x 18″   ♦   Medium: Watercolor and Paper Cutout Collage

INVOKED Heading link

Shaunie Berry   ♦   Title: Pride   ♦   Dimension: 18” x 24″   ♦   Medium: Oil Pastel and Watercolor on Paper

Shaunie Berry

Picture of Shaunie Berry

Learn About the Artist

Henry Hung Chang

Henry Hung Change picture wearing round black glasses with white shirt and white background.

Learn About the Artist

Symphonii Smith-Kennedy

Symphonni with orange eye liner and head wrap.

Learn About the Artist