Lynx Sainte-Marie talks Performance, Feminism and The Feminist Art Conference

 

Lynx, one of the performers at this years Feminist Art Conference in Toronto

Lynx, one of the performers at this years Feminist Art Conference in Toronto

“I think the Feminist Art Conference is necessary because it is a way for artists to speak to their feminism[s] and their own experiences of oppression in nuanced and creative ways. I also see it as a way for all of us to do the work in re-examining our society from a very human, emotional standpoint.” -Lynx Sainte-Marie

Lynx is a performer in this year’s Feminist Art Conference, and we took some time to speak to them on their background, art and feminism.

Can you give me a little background on yourself?

I am a goth, (gender)queer, Afro-Jamaican-Canadian feminist, half-time student and poet from a little  village in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario.  I am also the creator and curator of QueerofGender.com, a new tumblr site I created to honour and showcase  marginalized and multi-issue folks with nontraditional gender identities & expressions. The site serves as a safe space for queer/trans* folk, genderbenders, genderfucks, crossdressers and the people who love us to celebrate, affirm and archive our own stories and achievements.  The site has been up and running for the last two weeks, profiling a new person every Thursday!

I am passionate about all forms of art (with my first love being poetry and spoken word), [online] activism, social justice and all things feminism. I am also chronically ill with autoimmune issues and have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  In terms of my personal gender pronouns, I am fine with “they” or “she”. However, “lady”, “girl” and “woman” are terms I do not use to define myself. Though I was assigned female at birth, I am merely myself, nothing more. And as a Jamaican of the diaspora and a goth, I love the macabre, the surreal and appreciate darkness in all forms, especially those darker and more gothic parts of Jamaican and Afrikan mythology.  My writing at times will heavily reflect my sub/cultural leanings and I am inspired by artists, poets and activists like Staceyann Chin, Sunni Patterson, d’bi young anitafrika (Who will be the keynote speaker for the conference this year!), Audre Lorde, Suheir Hammad and the many, many, MANY other folks from my area and around the world that leave me breathless in their awesomeness.

Feminist Art Conference Header (Photo courtesy of the Feminist Art Conference at factoronto.org)

Feminist Art Conference Header (Photo courtesy of the Feminist Art Conference at factoronto.org)

What kind of art do you create? Tell us about it! Why is having an feminist art conference important for feminism?

I am a poet in that I write about my life experiences and the experiences of those around me. I used to be very reluctant to call myself a poet or a writer because I felt that my poetry was restricted to a very small audience (Or sometimes, no audience at all). But I have slowly realized that whether you are celebrated in the mainstream or love to jot down anecdotes in a diary, you are a writer. I write to honour my existence in this life, to analyze the circumstances around me and to meet new people who have similar life experiences.

I am so ecstatic and proud to be performing at the Toronto Feminist Art Conference this year in March.  I wasn’t able to attend its first year last year and told myself when this year rolled around, I would either be present as a member of the audience or performing. I think the Feminist Art Conference is necessary because it is a way for artists to speak to their feminism[s] and their own experiences of oppression in nuanced and creative ways. I also see it as a way for all of us to do the work of re-examining our society from a very human, emotional standpoint. Art has always served as a platform to push complex ideas and theories out into the world and bring about social and political chance. However, the mainstream only seems to concentrate on a certain type of artist – artists who have special training or schooling; those whose voices reflect the privilege society that we live in (The white or white-passing, the “straight”, the able-bodied, the “healthy” and the “thin”, to name a few). Having a feminist art conference that reflects the experiences, ideals and struggles of the marginalized, speaking to their intersections and truths, is necessary in a society that looks to hide its hxstory of oppression and violence against us. The dialogue that it creates can not only teach us how to critically examine the lives of others, but how to love others that are different from us. Hats off to the amazing Ilene Sova and the many other organizers and names behind the conference. It is going to be a HUGE success.

How does art affect your activism? In what way do your intersections of oppression play into your art? Is it part of your activism? Your self care? Both?

My art shows the ways I am negotiating the many experiences I have as someone who is black, queer, sick and trans*. My art speaks to the way I love; it speaks to the systemic prejudice and stigma I deal with on a daily basis. It is very much a part of my self-care in that it gives me a chance to socialize and share with other individuals who have these experiences in common with me. I started performing poetry and spoken word many years ago in Ottawa, Ontario so I am no stranger to the stage. However, after coming out as queer/non-binary gender trans*, losing many friends and having been sexually assaulted at the hands of a loved one, I felt I had lost my voice. Almost 10 years later, I use my words to fight against those systems that want to challenge my existence in this world; systems that exist to render me silenced and voiceless. I cannot stay quiet about my hxstory any longer, especially after meeting so many of us who have gone through similar things. And though at times I deal with intense bouts of  anxiety that seems to want to swallow me whole, Audre Lorde’s words “Your silence will not protect you” always rings in my ears as I stand very proud (And extremely nervously!) to speak my truths in front of all.

What else do you want to tell people about feminism, art and yourself?

I encourage everyone to create art in their lives to celebrate themselves. For some of us, it is a revolutionary act to merely exist in this life. So whether you sing in the shower or dance for your lover; whether you believe your art is “good enough” to share (ALL art is worthy because it is yours) or whether you busk in front of crowds in the streets, art is an important tool to communicate to the others (Or to yourself) how you feel about the world, YOUR world. I believe art can save the world because art saved me.

Also, because I want to dive head first back into performing, I encourage anyone who feels my work or my words to reach out to me. I want to continue to write and perform as long as I can. So get at me!

You can find Lynx on twitter, LynxSainteMarie on wordpress, queerofgender and on March 8th at the Feminist Art Conference

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