Featured image: Honey to Touch, by Mol Mir
Two weeks ago, Jack Mejia invited the public into their home to recognize and celebrate the work of both LGBTQIA+ and POC artists. This show, dubbed “Liminality,” featured work from primarily teenage artists and served as a safe space for marginalized creatives. I had the chance to correspond with Jack and talk about disorienting + ambiguous identities, their own relationship to the idea of liminality, and ritual.
Speaking with Jack
Who was behind the show? Who put it together and helped make it happen?
It was primarily my project but I had a ridiculous amount of help from my sister, Metzli, who helped develop the idea many months ago, and friends, like Ezra, who created the submission form, Ela, who created the flyers and Quinn, who hammered nails into my walls at 3am.
So I Wikipedia’d “liminality” and found a somewhat basic definition: the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. What relevance does that have to the show?
My ethnic and racial minorities professor, Fabiola Torres, introduced me to Ronald Takaki, who used the word liminality to describe the experience of American immigrants. American immigrants aren’t fully accepted as “Americans” nor citizens of their own country. They have one foot in the US and one foot in their country of origin. Their existence is liminal. Takaki related liminality to American immigrants but marginalized people in general are liminal. People who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community experience ambiguity and disorientation with their identity and how society views them versus how they view themselves. The ritual is never complete. I wanted to embrace liminality and the many people that experience liminality through this art show.
Does the word “liminality” have significance to you personally?
I am liminal in many ways. I am Xicanx, a Mexican living in America. I don’t particularly like identifying with my nationality, my colonizers, but there is a very unique struggle that comes with being a Mexican person living in America. I will never be claimed by Mexicans because I’m not “Mexican enough” and I will never be claimed by America because I’m not “American enough.”
I am also nonbinary so my gender identity is an additional layer of liminality. I am not a girl, although people perceive me to be a girl. I am Jack. I am fluid. My existence is ambiguous and disorienting.
I only got to see the set-up for the show, but it definitely felt like an open space that prioritized the artists and their representations of themselves. You gave artists a lot of options for their name cards, which was respectful and thoughtful, and of course the diversity of background among artists gave me recognition in my identity (as one of the many people represented), yet also a sense of belonging in a community. What prompted you to craft a space like that?
I crafted a space that I would ideally want as an artist myself. Having my identity recognized is incredibly important to me and I know how important it is to others. I wanted to give artists the opportunity to present themselves in their caption card how they wanted. I think it is important for artists to feel comfortable with how their art is presented in order to create a comfortable, safe environment.
Are there other resources for LGBTQIA+ artists and POC artists that you appreciate and want to share with us?
Unfortunately a huge reason I curated this art show was because of the lack of resources but I can direct you to a few instagram accounts I follow that can be used as resources:
@arthoecollective (The art hoe movement was started by QPOC to provide a space for all creatives of color)
@angelhoodcollective (“a Los Angeles based arts/music collective created for and by teenagers/young people of color” -@u.f.o)
@colorstudyzine (Digital zine focused on POC solidarity and creativity)
@chifladazine (a zine dedicated to creative latinxs everywhere)
@blackgirlmagik (an online and offline platform for women of color)
dark matter poetry: “i’ve been thinking a lot about joy recently. what makes me wake up and look like this when i know that people will try their best to bring me down? what makes me keep going even though i don’t see an expiration date for being harassed, disregarded, shoved, insulted, laughed at. and what i started to realize is that the joy i experience when i look at myself and who i am femmifesting is unparalleled, ancestral, soul-affirming. the joy of not having to define and live my life by imposed standards and borders. the joy of being able to constantly change, adapt, re-invent, shift, transform. and that got me thinking: could it be that the reason we experience so much oppression is because of their repression? could it be that the reason we are harassed is because others too recognize our joy and cannot take it because they have become so thoroughly indoctrinated in their own misery? i want so badly for the world to feel entitled to its joy, to its pleasure, to its delight. i want so badly for people to give themselves permission to transcend. i want so badly to be able to walk down the street without having my joy punished out of me. i want so badly to share this with you. this (un)becoming. this invitation. this joy.”