EDITOR IN CHIEF MORGAN MARTINEZ MANAGING EDITOR RIVKA YEKER ASSOCIATE EDITOR JACLYN JERMYN ONLINE EDITOR ROSIE ACCOLA EDITORIAL ASSISTANT KENNETH MILLER STAFF JAC MORRISON, ROBI FOLI, BROOKE HAWKINS, OLIVIA SCHROEDER, KAT FREYDL, SARU BHASKAR, GENEVIEVE KANE, ASHLEY JOHNSON, NOHEMI ROSALES, BRIAN MARTIN, ANGELA IMPERATI, ANNIE ZIDEK, JOSEPH LONGO, KEISA REYNOLDS, ANNA BRUNER, IVANA RIHTER, SIOBHAN THOMPSON, RACHEL BELL, GRETCHEN STERBA, CHARLENE HAPARIMWI, DEBORAH KRIEGER. SPECIAL THANKS CABRONA, JULIEN BAKER, 6131 records, chromatic publicity, LUCY DACUS, baohien ngo, PANTEHA ABARESHI, SARAH BOGOSH, jinno redovan.
hooligan mag issue #15
IS HERE FOR ALL THE CABRONAS story by nohemi rosales photos by annie zidek
If you wanna know what’s badass, Latinx, queer, feminist, bilingual, and punk in the Chicago music scene, look no further than Cabrona Band. Having roots in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala, Cabrona’s members are here to make their presence known in a male-dominated, white-washed music industry. Their music style has been described as punkish and similar to Spanish rock but with punk elements, but they aren’t afraid to stray and throw some folk, jazz, classical, and latin styles in there as well. It all started when Jax ‘Loca Malcriada’ Ovalle and Becca ‘Basura’ Perez met in high school when they were teens. “We had actually started a band with one of our friends, who was a dude, and we were like ‘he is so bossy, we just need to start an all-girl band,’ and that was our dream for years,” Becca explains. When Jax went to college at Northwestern, she met Fatima ‘Fatale’ Gomez while playing Mariachi there. “Long story short, the men there were just like sexist assholes,” Fatima says. “We both ended up leaving at different times. Jax had the idea to finally start the band. At first we talked about me joining the band, but we weren’t really sure how a violin was going to fit in. We finally started rehearsing in October of 2014.” Drummer, Javier ‘La Virgen’ Lom, didn’t join the band until August of 2015. He and Jax had met in high school, where they played in the marching band together. But it wasn’t until they matched on Tinder that they started bonding over music. Originally Javier got involved with Cabrona as their tech guy, troubleshooting any and all technical issues, but when their original drummer moved out of the country, they brought in Javier.
During their show at Bottom Lounge in early June, the band played for what was described as a “small, but mighty” audience with a lot of energy. They had previously played all over the city, including Fed Up Fest in 2015. Jax reflected on the Bottom Lounge show, saying, “Fed Up Fest was like playing to a crowd of fresh ears. But at this point, it was mainly only fans in front of us. So when we were like ‘hey, we’re Cabrona’ we got like a huge cheer, instead of being like ‘hey, we’re Cabrona’ and hearing crickets.” Originally called Chemical X, an ode to the beloved Powerpuff Girls, they eventually changed their name to Cabrona to more closely represent their roots. “There was a lot of weird metal bands called Chemical X. And one day my mom was tucking me in and I said something rude to her so she said ‘aye Cabrona’ and I was like ‘WOAH. That’s it, that’s the name’,” Jax explains. The word cabrona, for anyone who speaks Spanish, has a lot of meaning. In English, it means bitch, but the band’s Facebook page offers a definition with deeper significance.
“Bitch: Describes assertive, intelligent, independent, self-confident woman who knows what she wants and struggling to get it without excuses or concessions. Women who challenge and not pleased with obvious answers but always finds the correct answer. Forming relationships and close ties not by necessity but by choice and, consequently, seeks to achieve a better life for herself and those around her.” For all members, being a Cabrona is something unique, but it also binds them together. For Fatima, being a Cabrona means having her own persona that she can embody on stage. “I am a classical violinist and a mariachi violinist,” she says. “Both of those genres and traditions are very rigid in terms of their gender roles, so to me, this is a space where I don’t have to fit into a box.” Javier says that as someone who identifies as male, the meaning is a little different. “It’s about completely subverting my identity when I’m with the band. When I’m on stage, I just think of myself as being me—not a straight cis-male. Calling myself a Cabrona has changed how I think of myself a lot.”
Similarly to Fatima’s reality, Jax also experienced sexism from the mariachi group they were in, as well as other male-dominated music spaces. For her, being a Cabrona means to be bossy and to take control “It’s kind of like when the Riot grrrl were writing the word ‘slut’ on their bodies. If you’re going to call me that, I’m going to reclaim that word,” she says. Their place in Chicago’s music scene has always garnered positive feedback. Being Latinx or queer are identities that are difficult to carry in society, especially when you’re both. There was one instance during one of their shows at the Mutiny, a Chicago dive club, in which they felt discriminated. They had just played “Jigsaw,” a song dedicated to the undocumented Latinxs in this country, when a white man in the audience started making disrespectful jokes. “But that’s why we do what we do. Though at the same time, it was really infuriating,” Jax says. “Jigsaw” isn’t the only song that Cabrona uses to talk about real world issues happening in marginalized communities. Javier’s favorite song is “Celia,” which is a cover of Celia Cruz’s “La Vida Es Un Carnaval,” just a little bit more punk in style. For Becca and Jax, the song “Queen” is the one they’ve enjoyed working on the most. Written by Jax after quitting mariachi, it was written as a ‘fuck you’ to machistas. It starts off with Jax singing in a very sweet, girly voice and then it grows in intensity. The song ends with a saying Jax’s mom used to tell her if someone was bullying her: “el valiente llega hasta donde el cobarde deja,” meaning, the valiant one will only get as far as the coward allows.
"Both of those genres and traditions are very rigid in terms of their gender roles, so to me, this is a space where I dont have to fit into a box."
Though they’ve all found healing through making music, their songs are not just for them. Having been told that their music has been therapy for their listeners, Cabrona wants to ensure that the feeling remains. As first generation Latinxs, they want to represent others who are underrepresented. “I don’t get to see many Latinx people on stage with guitars singing about machismo and that’s incredibly important,” Jax says. Javier states that he wants their songs to, “put fuckbois on blast.” Can I get a “hell yeah,”? Their music, more than anything, is about reaching out to marginalized people and making them feel empowered. It’s about allowing people similar to them to vibe with them and feel good about themselves in a world that is constantly trying to make us feel bad for being queer, or brown, or different in any way. It’s about loving ourselves and saying ‘fuck off’ to those who don’t agree.
Follow Cabrona on social media and get in touch with your inner Cabrona: Facebook: facebook.com/cabronaband Twitter: @cabronaband Instagram: @cabronaband Bandcamp: cabrona.bandcamp.com
Strength in Vulnerability STORY BY RIVKA YEKER PHOTOS BY MORGAN MARTINEZ
"you can choose to say nothing at all and promote passivity and negativity, or you can choose to actively promote goodness."
Morgan and I sat down with Julien Baker at one of the only independent coffee shops we could find in Madison, Wisconsin, a three hour drive from Chicago. Almost immediately, I brought something up about studying film, and conversation began spiraling into existentialism, growing up in a male-dominated music scene, queerness, and religion. Julien is fascinating. At only 20, she is filled with quotes from books she’s read and stories she’s heard. She has ideas and visions and she always has something to say. She’s the kind of person that you meet once or twice in your life, fully enamored by their existence, as they continue to inspire every single person that is lucky enough to encounter them. Before I heard Sprained Ankle, Julien’s first full length album as a solo artist, I saw it everywhere. I saw it posted up on Facebook, tracks on Tumblr, links on Twitter; people wouldn’t shut up about it. Obviously, I listened to it, and then I couldn’t stop listening to it. But I wasn’t alone in that, because everyone that had listened to it was completely blown away, putting it on repeat day by day. It was mesmerizing, and pure. It was vulnerable, as if it was speaking something that hid in the deepest corners of our brains; something that we were too scared to say. Julien was saying it, and we were hypnotized. The most incredible part about all of it, was the range in her audience. It went from NPR-loving folks who had watched her Tiny Desk Concert and fell in love, to people that had been listening to bands from 6131, a primarily hardcore and punk label. Julien was touching all sorts of people’s hearts, regardless of their age or gender, her words could cut anyone. Knowing a little bit about Julien based on previous interviews and her unbelievable Audiotree session, I wanted to ask the questions that seemed most Hooligan. I wanted to know about her authentic self, the rawest parts of her roots and ideology. We approached the question of identity and what label she claims as an artist along with how she navigates her art with those labels. Julien explained to us, “I didn’t want to be that “annoying” feminist or that “annoying” queer person, and you fall into this trap where you have to make your identity digestible for the dominant culture, and for a long time, that’s why I wasn’t explicit about it.” Although now, after her publicist kept bringing niche publications that heavily focused on feminism to her attention, Julien started realizing that it’s vital to live her truths as an artist and to be vocal about it. Identity can become awfully confusing, especially with growing up in the hardcore scene, which is and was aggressively male-dominated. As a young girl, and especially as a young queer girl, we discussed the overbearing push to defeminize yourself to fit in and be accepted. Julien’s initial response to me bringing up how isolating it is to be a girl in that scene was, “you gotta be like a dude.” Plain and simple. It’s the same when applied to sexual identity, because when Julien came out to her band, they started treating her like a dude, because as Julien jokingly put it, “It’s like the minute you come out as a lesbian, you have to get a mullet and wear cut off flannels.” These stereotypes exist even in alternative spaces, even in those that claim themselves as safe and progressive ones.
"Just be kinder, spend time being love. I have a unique opportunity that I dont take for granted. I get to wake up in a new town every day, meet strangers every day, and I get to have these conversations every day. This is my job."
It’s the same notion that every young femme person experiences when growing up attending hardcore, punk, and emo shows, like Julien says, “you don’t even realize you’re surrounded by only guys,” and that it takes effort to unlearn your own internalized misogyny, to step outside for a minute and learn that there is something very off. After referencing Jessica Hopper’s new book The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, she admits, “I didn’t realize any of this until I was becoming more aware,” essentially saying that the norm still lies in the presence of men, and we have to unpack the reasons that make this a problem. While we know that the scene we’re so intensely apart of is a boys club, as a queer woman songwriter, Julien Baker decided to take on the responsibility of purposefully creating music that didn’t fall into the cliche lyricism that some of her biggest inspirations did. “When I listened to The Promise Ring or Death Cab for Cutie, I run this risk of doing the Straight-White-Male-Wants-Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-to-Fulfill-His-Romantic-Needs trope, and sometimes I start to see my phrasing emulate those people because they’re huge influences, but I want to be conscious,” Julien tells us, and she is conscious, because she works hard at deflecting those cliches that we’ve seen done over and over again by our favorite musicians and in our favorite movies. “I have to start writing songs that don’t revolve around girls existing to fulfill my romantic needs, I need to be conscious of how I speak about women, how I treat women, as a public figure and as an artist, because that’s a secondary influence,” Julien explains, “and that’s how you construct a new social idea while pushing against the dominant culture.” Julien accepts that it’s easy to fall into the traditionality of songwriting, but she is always checking herself and making sure she is defying the patriarchal standard that lingers above us. Julien says, “every art has a social agenda,” and hers is no different. But what makes her art significantly more interesting is the hints of religion woven through chords and belts. Julien regularly attends a church in her hometown, one that is filled with progressive and kind-hearted people over sixty and queer twenty-somethings. The church is inclusive and supportive of Julien, as she mentions that they have come to her shows, standing in the back, and reminding her that she is loved. Religion in punk scenes is typically frowned upon, often talked poorly about by Atheists who think “God is dead” means that there is no God. Julien, on the other hand, is shameless about her faith and what it has done for her as a being, as someone who has grown with it, as someone who believes that it is her mission to spread Christ-like love in the only way she knows how: with her guitar and a microphone. As MeWithoutYou is a huge influence for Julien, she sees how music and religion can be intertwined and the real purpose behind religion is to promote goodness, to deflate negativity.
“There is something religious about personal revelation,” Julien says, “A girl came up to me at a show once and said, ‘your record made me feel more okay with falling in love with a woman.’ There God is. There God is coming out of her mouth.” God manifests itself in different ways, through actions and energies, through words and melodies, and Julien finds herself starting to view tour as mission. She asks herself, “How can you emulate Christ-like love? Can you be peace to somebody else without going up on stage and saying, ‘raise your hand if you want to get saved!’” With this, she says, “Just be kinder, spend time being love. I have a unique opportunity that I don’t take for granted. I get to wake up in a new town every day, meet strangers every day, and I get to have these conversations every day. This is my job.” In that, Julien redefines what religion means to her, to us, to the people in the crowded venue listening to her voice echo. Music is religion. Speaking your truths is religion. As humans, we have options, or as Julien puts it, “you can choose to say nothing at all and promote passivity and negativity, or you can choose to actively promote goodness.” This is where Julien Baker differs from other singer-songwriters and solo artists. This is why her record sounds like heart-drenched honesty, because it is. Because she has learned that there is strength in her vulnerability, that it’ll inspire people to better understand their identities, their hidden truths. Julien Baker isn’t afraid of exposing her deepest cuts, nor is she scared of bringing them to the surface so people can learn from them and feel confident enough to show theirs. There is something metaphysical about Julien Baker’s music. It is ethereal, like a physical embodiment of a soul, or energy that could bring me to a new state of mind. She is an artist that practices ethics and faith as she embraces her identity purely and confidently something that she hopes everyone can one day do, too.
KEEP UP WITH JULIEN facebook.com/julienrbaker 6131records.com
Hooligan was pleased to get to know Richmond, Virginia singer-songwriter, Lucy Dacus, as she talks vulnerability, her songwriting process, and accessibility in the music community. Having just signed to Matador Records, she will release a reissue of her debut album, No Burden, on September 9th, 2016. Catch her on tour across the country this summer, making stops at Chicagoâ€™s Lollapalooza as well as landmark venue Thalia Hall with Daughter. BY ROSIE ACCOLA PHOTOS BY BAOHIEN NGO
What is your earliest memory of creating music?
When I was a little kid, I would sing instead of talk—probably to the annoyance of everyone around me. If somebody asked me a question, I’d respond in sing-song and this would go on for a full day at a time. My first memory of writing a song was for a contest at my elementary school to honor firefighters. I came in second and got a five-dollar bill which rocked my world at the time. Tell us about your style of songwriting. Do you start with a riff or chord progression and write around it or do you write the lyrics first?
Always lyrics first. Lyrics and melody at the same time. Sometimes I’ll write an entire song without even picking up the guitar. I actually have very little control over songwriting because I can’t just sit down and decide to write a song. Whenever I’ve tried that, it comes out too saccharine or lacks subtlety. I kinda have to wait around and not have expectations. When words start coming, I just listen to them and see them as valuable instead of just humming some gibberish on the streets, which is probably what it looks like to everyone else. You reference being from the South multiple times on No Burden.—has the region shaped your relationship to music in any way?
I wasn’t exposed to specifically southern music much growing up. I’ve been more affected culturally than musically. Richmond is right on the edge of being southern, but it was also the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Some people hold on to this history with pride, and some people want [to be] through with it—want the monuments of rebel soldiers taken down. Because of that, race, racism, classism, historical fact and fiction, and political activism are readily talked about. Despite the tension, there’s a strong feeling of togetherness and familiarity. Creatively, people are supportive and share in each other’s successes. What track on the album did you find the heaviest for you to create?
“Dream State…” and “… Familiar Place” were originally the same song: “Dream State, Familiar Place.” It’s the least hopeful song on the album—just a plain statement of fear, anticipation of loss and the associated loneliness. It’s perhaps the hardest feeling I’ve ever felt, even harder than the loss in question. Where does the name No Burden stem from?
I found some notes from a filmmaking class I took in high school where I had written all the reasons I would ever make a movie, what I would want to communicate, and all I wish people understood about themselves. It’s pretty cheesy, but one phrase popped out at me: “You are no burden.” As a sentence, it sounds like something a crafty mom would paint on driftwood and hang in a bathroom, but I hope No Burden communicates that idea.
"Let your life sink in. Theres a strong tendency to want to immediately translate experience into creative work, but it takes time to see what youve learned and then, even more time to know how to communicate it."
What's the most memorable experience you've had from touring thus far?
It’s so nice to tour with a record! We went on three tours without any records and it was like one long apology. “Sorry, maybe next time!” We would make hardly enough money to pay for gas. Now, people have the chance to listen to the record before coming to the show and I can tell from onstage who knows the words and who really cares. That’s the best feeling in the world. The best compliment is to know you’ve been worth somebody’s time. The absolute most memorable tour experience so far was in Carrboro, NC. This chick came up to us after the show and pointed at her thigh. It was a tattoo of an owl and next to it was the lyric, “Without you I am surely the last of our kind” from “Dream State…”. It took a second to realize what was going on, but I was shocked. I laid down on the concrete ground making guttural noises for second, then got up and thanked her for caring so much. I never imagined something like that would happen. In your music there's this wonderful tension between the brazeness of rock and roll and vulnerability. Has music helped you be more honest about these feelings?
Being vulnerable takes a lot of strength at first, but then it becomes really easy when you realize everyone wants to get to that point, but is waiting for anyone else to jump first. Ideally, being vulnerable in front of a crowd gives everyone else permission to do the same. Who or what are some of your biggest influences in the art world?
Oh man, good question. Recently, I’ve taken a very conscious exit from the art world because I’m disappointed in it’s inaccessible and wealth-oriented infrastructure. However, I will always love Miranda July and Agnes Varda—two ladies who value vulnerability and blunt honesty. I would describe them as fearless, but what’s actually so good about their work is that it contains fear, but looks it straight in the eye. It takes strength to admit fear. I’ve also had life changing experiences with pieces of art [where] I haven’t known who the artist is. For the longest time,
I was obsessed with what I would later find out was the painting Half Caste Child by Arthur Boyd. For years, it didn’t matter who made it or what the context was, I just couldn’t stop looking at that painting. You put out a lot of your music on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Has having access to free music sharing sites helped you as an artist?
Bandcamp and Soundcloud are great. I have a lot of friends whose [work] is only accessible through these sites [and] some of my favorite music can’t be found anywhere else. I don’t think it has helped me navigate the music industry, but it certainly helped the entry into it. When we were first touring, those were the only places people could find out what we sounded like. We didn’t even have an album at that point. I don’t know how people toured or how audience members decided to go to shows before having access to music on streaming sites. Word of mouth? Were venues more community oriented? Those aspects of touring can still exist, but I’m glad streaming is an option for so many people. Musicians should have the choice to make their music as accessible as possible. What advice can you give to artists when it comes to creating and feeling confident and honest in their work?
I think people put on the title of “artist” or “creator” with too much weight. Once that’s a part of your identity, there’s a pressure keep it up [and] be productive. I know that whenever I consciously try to make music, it comes out flat. I know this advice wouldn’t work for everyone, but if someone was asking, I’d say stop trying for a while. Let your life sink in. There’s a strong tendency to want to immediately translate experience into creative work, but it takes time to see what you’ve learned and then, even more time to know how to communicate it. No one is holding you to it, and if they are, how much of your work is theirs and not your own? There is a misleading mythology around being a successful artist that can strain or demand too much from people. Don’t think of yourself as lesser if you don’t make something for a while. Separate your worth from your work. KEEP UP WITH LUCY DACUS
Sixteen-year-old artist Panteha Abareshi has won the internet over with her bold illustrations of women of color living unapologetically female. For the Phoenix, Arizona resident, illustration became an outlet as she battled Sickle Cell Beta Zero Thalassemia, a genetic disease that causes her chronic pain and physical limitations. In the fall of 2014, the condition had took a drastic turn and led to her being frequently hospitalized for long periods of time. She began to channel her energy into illustration and creating representations of teenage girls of color and mental illnesses. She spoke with Hooligan via email about growing up as a woman of color in Arizona, and finding her footing as an artist. by keisa reynolds all work by panteha abareshi
How have your personal experiences shaped or influenced your artwork?
My art is very much a visual representation of my struggles with mental illness, as well as away of conveying my thoughts and emotions surrounding love, romance and sexuality. All of my work is very personal and the reason a lot of it is so graphic is because I put all of the emotion I’m unable to express verbally into it. From a very young age I’ve been very opposed to the notion that women should measure their worth on their ability to be in a committed romantic relationship, and their ability to be a housewife and mother—being told repeatedly that marriage is the peak of success in a woman’s life and that not wanting to have children is “just how I feel now” before I “meet Mr. right”. So much emphasis and importance is placed on romantic relationships, starting in middle school and maybe even earlier.
keep up with panteha pantehart.tumblr.com instagram.com/pantehart
"The art world is slowly realizing that there is this whole community of artists that have such talent and so much value that they have to share. I am so lucky to be able to join this movement and contribute and work with other POC. It is an amazing feeling of solidarity."
I remember all the crushes I had and the intense pressure I felt to look and act a certain way to get their attention and conform to what they found attractive. I have no desire to be in a romantic relationship. I was never seeking a boyfriend. I personally struggle with intimacy and certainly don’t value it to the extent that the media demands young females do. I convey this through my work. There is a reoccurring theme of intimacy being shut down and of romance being warped and darkened by juxtaposing it with murder and blood. It is exaggeration, but it communicates a strong and clear message about my personal feelings and experiences. You mention media representations of young women and intimacy, specifically how young women are supposed to be crave and value it. What are some sentiments other young women have shared about your art, especially that component?
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from other young women who tell me that they relate very strongly to the notions of the warped nature of romance and intimacy that I convey in my art. One message that stood out specifically was a girl my age telling me that she felt alone and very isolated because of her lack of desire to be intimate and romantic with anyone. The fact that people feel alienated and wrong just because the notion of intimacy and romance holds no interest completely disgusts me. The entire aromantic and asexual spectrum is essentially nonexistent in the media, but individuals who do not identify as asexual/aromantic, but are uninterested for personal or mental health issues need to be shown that they are valid and not figments of imagination as the media would make it seem. I’ve had numerous cases of people, both male and female identifying, tell me that my art provided comfort and validation and it is an unbelievably validating thing. What representations of women of color and mental illness do you see in current conversations about art, culture, and entertainment?
That’s the thing! I don’t see the representation and the representation that I do see is so flawed, stereotyped, and inaccurate to the point of insult. There is no accurate portrayal of what living with mental illness is truly like in the media. The fact that the word "depressed" is used so trivially and the fact that bipolarity is used as an insult illustrates just how warped and painfully inaccurate the understanding and portrayal of mental ill— ness in the media truly is.
Thankfully, there is currently an amazing movement that is picking up rapidly, aiming to create a space in the art world for POC and WOC specifically. There are zines for only queer women of color and there are galleries only showing POC artists. The art world is slowly realizing that there is this whole community of artists that have such talent and so much value that they have to share. I am so lucky to be able to join this movement and contribute and work with other POC. It is an amazing feeling of solidarity. Unfortunately, I don’t think that there are any current conversations on mental illness that are significant enough to make an actual impact. I really hope to start conversations, and to really bring more people to understand the complexity and truth of what mental illness is. It’s a difficult topic, because it’s virtually impossible to understand the struggles of mental illness to their full extent without experiencing it first-hand. But I find that it’s easier for neuro-typical individuals to understand the emotional struggles when they’re expressed through art.
A lot of people find your work through Tumblr, which is awe— some. Has Tumblr or other platforms influenced how you create your art?
I wouldn’t say that the social-media platforms I use influence the actual creation of my art, but it certainly pushes me to hold myself to a higher standard because I want to maintain consistency in the work I put out into the world. Posting my work on Tumblr and Instagram has given me a bit more confidence in my work and some assurance that choosing to be an artist won’t a regrettable choice. Of course, it’s nice to get positive feedback from people who relate to my art. My blog and Instagram make that possible. Aside from that, what I truly love about Tumblr is that I can find and follow so many amazing artists, many of which attend the universities that I’ll be applying to! It’s great to be able to keep up with the work of people that I admire so much and have the ability to reach out and connect with them. While it doesn’t provide artistic inspiration in terms of actually affecting my technique, seeing the diverse and inspiring array of art from all the artists I follow pushes me to work harder and to improve. How do you see your artwork growing in the future?
I’m completely self-taught. Considering how much my art has changed and improved in only a year’s time I cannot imagine what I’ll learn and how much I’ll grow once I’m receiving a fulltime, formal art education. I’ll hopefully be accepted into a BFA of illustration program, and the possibilities that will open up for me excite me so much. All the growth that I want to make requires small things first—taking an anatomy class to fine-tune my understanding of proportions and the way the body moves. Doing a color study to better grasp shades, and to give my pieces better coloration. I can’t point exactly to where I see my art going, or what I see it becoming because I don’t know. All I can say is that I am always eager to refine myself and practice new techniques, and I can’t wait to learn and grow in my work but also as an artist. I really would love to create bigger pieces, just to have more visual impact, and I’d love to do more visual storytelling—maybe a short comic strip or zine. Ultimately, I want to do larger-scale collaborations and have the opportunity to show my work and speak about all the things I’m passionate about. What are some of your favorite comics and zines?
My favorite comic artist is Adrian Tomine; his book Killing and Dying is one of my most prized possessions. Also, Here by Richard McGuire and Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause—both are a perfect combination of eerie and sentimental which is what I look for in every book I read. I love artists who combine bright colors and weirdness so of course I adore Joan Cornellà and his book Mox Nox. I could honestly go on forever about comic artists I love, but I’ll finish with my absolute favorite webcomic that I’ve read at least twelve times, called Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero by Michael DeForge. In terms of zines, Shade zine means a lot to me, especially because of how much I respect and look up to Ahza and Apryl: the ladies who run it. I contribute regularly to Polyester, and it’s a complete honor to have my work featured with so many other amazing female* artists. I absolutely love making comics, and I’ll hopefully be making a zine by the end of the year!
It's amazing to see young artists work hard at their craft and resist the dominant narrative around their work and how art is supposed to look. Artists are often told they won't succeed. What does success look like for you as an artist and young woman of color?
To be honest I never thought Iâ€™d be doing the things I am today. Success for me as an artist and young WOC means increasing the quality of my work and increasing my visibility to a place where Iâ€™m able to communicate my point and make a bigger impact with it. Success is learning and growing and creating work that is better than I thought personally possible. Success for me is making an impact in the movement to normalize POC in contemporary art and increasing representation of the true nature of mental illness. With every piece I create I find more things that I want to work on and develop. I have a lot to learn, but I know that as long as I keep working and striving to improve, Iâ€™ll be able to do the things I hope for.
sarah bogosh Sarah Bogosh is a Chicago-based illustration artist, who often forgets she’s 26. Her repetitive drawings often deal with the burden and beauty of carrying pain, through animal motifs. More of her work can be found on Instagram under the name @badponies. by annie zidek all work by sarah bogosh photos by jinno redovan
Have you grown with your work over the years or has your work grown with you?
I think if you look at the work, and if you know me personally, you can definitely tell that the work has grown with me. It’s always a reflection of the things I’m feeling at that specific moment in time or a reflection of things I’m going through. [That] influences changes in imagery and tone. How have you seen your work evolve over the years?
I’ve worked with a lot of different mediums over the years. I studied printmaking in college at the Kansas City Art Institute and had access to inks, presses, and all kinds of expensive equipment. The year I went to college was the first year that they discontinued the illustration department, so when it came time to pick a major I ended up in the printmaking department instead. It worked out because printmaking is very heavily drawing and pattern based and besides learning the process, we were basically allowed to do whatever we wanted. Sculpture project? Sure. Sewing? Go for it. Which was great because I mostly just wanted to draw and I was also a really bad printmaker. I didn’t have the patience or precision. I would just do stuff and be like, “I know this is the wrong way to do it but let’s just see what happens.” I was definitely influenced a lot by the repetition of the process of making multiples. I was allowed a ridiculous amount of studio space and by my senior year we were all making these enormous drawings. After I graduated the only space I had was the living room of my apartment, so I started embroidering because it was portable and I could watch hours of TV while I worked on projects.
Even once I moved back to Chicago I kept doing needlework because I was living in the suburbs and working two jobs in the city and commuting. It was easy to work on public transportation. Eventually I got impatient with that and went back to drawing and I am a much happier and less irritable person now. I usually work in pen and ink, markers, sometimes paint and pencil. Drawing is a lot more of an instant gratification process. [It’s also] easier for me to manipulate. I am both impatient and a control freak so I think it suits me best and makes me happiest. What got you into creating art?
It was the only thing I was actually good at. I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. I used to have to go to work with my mom and I would sit and color or draw for hours. I was lucky enough to have other artists in my extended family who encouraged me to keep doing it and the support of some really great teachers along the way. Would you consider any of your work confessional?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that of my current work, but when I was doing a lot of embroidery I would give the pieces stupid long titles that had very little to do with the piece but would blurt out my personal problems, mental health issues, [and] guilty feelings about things that were happening in my life at the time. I had titles like, “All the Previous Homes (And All My Laughing Damage Deposits)” or “Signs Point to Yes (But This Headache is Well Deserved)”. Always along those lines. I think if any of that still exists in my current work, it’s much more buried and veiled. I’m big on pattern in my work, partly because I usually dress myself in patterns and partly because the repetition is calming to me. My life and my art are always intertwined. I’m in a band and I write songs that I make drawings of or I make drawings and give them titles that I end up writing songs about and then I tattoo them on my body. I’ve always, always used animals in my work. I’m bad at drawing people and I’m just a scowl-y person. I like animals better than I like people. I think using animals makes some of my themes a lot subtler and beautiful for someone to look at or stomach, rather than using people—especially with the ideas of self-harm that have been pretty present lately. A lot of it deals with pain, carrying it with us and piling it on—just really dealing with over the top mental health issues while still trying to just fucking stand up and keep going. And there’s beauty in that too. I don’t want to be super blatant with it because it’s so personal and I still struggle to be open about those things in general. What inspires you to create?
I’m really inspired by everything I see around me on a daily basis. I’m constantly looking for imagery on my way to work, on the bus, reading— I listen to people speak and catalog things I like to use later. My brain doesn’t turn off very often. Whatever comes out on paper is all of that filtered through my personal feelings and experiences. I’m trying to collage it all together to make sense of where I’m at. It’s sort of a weird way for me to organize myself into the world.
Your work is soft in style while simultaneously gory and heavy in imagery. How do you hope these elements are viewed by your audience?
[That] goes along with trying to be [subtler] about the pieces of myself that end up in my work instead of shouting out my leftover teenage angst to the world. I hope that the softness and beauty draws people in, but once they get closer realize that it’s kind of more fucked up than they could see at first. From there can delve into the details and layers of imagery. I want my pieces to sort of be like train wrecks that you can’t look away from. Do you have a personal favorite piece of yours?
It’s always changing as I’m making more work and figuring out what I’m actually doing. If I had to pick one right now, it would probably be the rabbit with the nails, rope, and bells. A lot of imagery that I didn’t realize I had been thinking about for years came together with some of the more recent stuff I was doing and that was a cool thing to see happen.
by Shannon Sotomayor Electric dreams and invisible seams tie us together like needle and thread. If you were a fabric you’d be the darkest of blues in a jazz patterned world, full of wonder and pain. And I would be something of your own creation because I’m not one to trust in stressful situations. When I listen for where you are I feel the breeze running through tall, misty grass I see plaid duvets and rugby jerseys and scripts on scripts for the three studios that I wander thinking of you. You’re the light of Sunday day I hope I’m your girl Friday
by Brynn Crocker
I dug myself a grave Just about as big as my bed It’s dark Smells like smoke It’s all these scribbles never read
Too much nicotine Not enough sleep This bed’s too messy & there’s that spot you didn’t keep
Those waves weren’t as nasty as you and they did less damage The hull took a battering and the sails ripped in tandem with your dial tone But you cut me out to find yourself Now you can’t find your way home
You could try to sell your soul But no one wants it You could strip and you could paint But I can smell the you that haunts it
by Eric Dolan bleed bourbon burn fortunes stamped letters pressed between pages of ink and honesty a roadmap to salvation a foot inside my grave a highway leading nowhere past the ones all doomed to stay the salt of the earth the dawn of the day the coming of Jesus the crying parade check your pockets wash your hair step outside and breathe the air (that’s why it’s there) thick and sweet like St. Germain and summer’s haze i will not be fooled again by warmth
melody ( ii )
by Anna BrĂźner all my best poems are for imaginary women. even in artistic freedom i have intimacy issues. maybe her name was melody and maybe it was pearl and maybe she wore lilacs in her hair and wore scarves like my mother and had a birthmark spread across her face like a feathered mask or the shadow of a flower eclipsing the setting sun. maybe she drank milk at night and sewed patches in her fatherâ€™s jeans. i knew her once in a place where wiser drunks than i had better memories.
by Finn Mancini Purples your toes like afternoon pills You should really see a doctor about that one. It’s more than florescent Even more than the pneumonia colored bulbs in the mall’s medicine shop You dance the short disk-jitter When it skirts your way It’s Like -10, like walking home that day Except without the floor to hide in While the red stings creep along and remind you, you have hands – At least not the familiar blue carpet, that’s been removed. Is that it? The hacking air conditioner Spitting frost until It chilled itself ill. Yeah, starting to get the feeling. Called to the vice principal’s office, The one that taught Latin, With Siberian eyes, the kind a blind person might have. The one whose every mid-tone, highlight, and shadow contained only fog. Getting closer now. The 6:30 a.m. alarm Prematurely unraveled the fleece cocoon Pulled back into the sick cold spit of the gray creeping through the curtains While fresh footsteps are jolted by frostbitten floor tiles. Something like that.
The missed February bus And the left glove, well that’s missing too. Maybe lost in a duel. Teeth rattled until they shattered. Shattered, fell, and made a light dusting of snow. Is that the glance? Tingling my particle’s swings – Splintering my spine like a 40-cent wine glass – Sifting into my senses Pulling the nerves outside my skin, and Tightening a stuttering noose around dry swallows? That makes the stab’s burn sting, But the blade’s cool seem smoother? It is. Shave neck hairs, so they can’t stand on end.
If You Want To Know Why I Go Quiet When I Break Down by Lora Mathis
I get that you’re tired and that this sometimes happens what, like 3, 4 times a week? And I know that you’re thinking I’ll be fine in the morning. Like, I won’t die, but the thing isthere is a part of me that falls deeper into itself each time my crying lulls someone I am sharing a bed with to sleep. Sure, I’ll wake up the next morning alive but is it really a good thing to get better at crying softly? You’re not obliged to do anything, but hey, if you hear me beating myself up next to you and choose to ignore me and go to sleepwell, can you really be surprised when you are awake and ready to listen and my first instinct is to hide?
by Morgan Martinez I am always writing poetry in my head but can never get it on paper, like when it’s beautiful outside and you try not to compare their eyelashes to the ends of tree branches coming to life. My eyes are not a setting sun today they stay open long enough to cry about how much I miss the moments of your drunk serenity. I think I’ll cry myself into a pool of twenty more minutes of sleep, and don’t go, don’t go, like the last time I saw him alive and he wrapped his arms around me in the way roundabouts feel like purgatory. Sometimes I can still feel the hum of his heartbeat. Sometimes you see their hands and all you can think is don’t go.
I WILL NEVER KNOW YOUR LOVE by Rivka Yeker
i will never know your love the way you want me to. i will never know it pure and soft, never in whispers and embrace. i will never know it in warmth, only in sharpened knives barely missing my cheek only in cold shrieks, the chilling movement that acts as our fight. i will only know you in anger. your love will feel like a spiked blanket, both feeding my closure and hurting me at the same time, as if somehow it molded love into a new meaning. i will only know your love as pain and longing. but they say you canâ€™t know good until you know bad, and i donâ€™t know what your love is without my arm being severed into, only for you to stitch up the gash.
Featuring Julien Baker, Panteha Abareshi, Cabrona, Lucy Dacus, Sarah Bogosh, and more.