I am convinced it can only be divine orchestration that brought Mia Willis (they/them) and I together as collaborators for Forward Together’s Trans Day of Resilience project. An experience of our own design, as Mia and I both recognize our holiness in our ability to shape ourselves and our realities.
As trans/nonbinary people, we create ourselves along with our art and poetry. We are the divine. Our love of mythology, passion for poetry and imagery, and a desire to push the boundaries of what it means to exist as a resilient trans/nonbinary person made us want to craft new mythologies for the black, trans experience. Rewrite our cosmic birth.
We did this together through sharing resources, and then poetry, which I used to create the imagery for this project. Though we aspire to do more in-depth narrative works in the future, what we created was deeply personal. We were influenced by the other, but also inspired by ourselves and our own tools of resilience through shapeshifting forms, manipulation of time, and collectivity in our voice.
For the execution of the final works, I allowed myself to imagine and receive visions of the trans/nonbinary deities that wanted to be present in these pieces. I gave myself some boundaries as I can get joyfully lost in the realm of possibilities. I wanted to represent a transfeminine elder, a transmasculine parent, a nonbinary child who transcends even the boundries of humankind, and a new god reflected in a transwoman who has not yet transcended her human form.
As I sketched and played, everything became luscious. The roundness of bodies, the swirling of bark, the curling of tentacles, and the softness of sunsets and leaves all create a world of trans/nonbinary resilience that is warm, expansive, and welcoming to all forms of divinity in all beings. I truly believe we cannot carry on if we do not prioritize our rest, our joy, and our unconditional love for ourselves.
The lines that I used from Mia’s poetry are “I am a completely new spirit born from a change in melody,” and “I float in a flesh that define taxonomy, erases binaries.” This reality is a melody, and we are clear notes that redirect the very flow of the song like water. This is the foundational image for my concept. Melody as a biodiverse ecosystem, one we will thrive in. This ecosystem is the place of our birth and its lushness gives us room to birth new forms. Now born, we declare who we are. We are boundless and floating. Like a newly emerged dragonfly, we delight in our existence, the gentleness of plants, and the glisten of our reflection in the water’s surface.
My hope is that people see themselves in these pieces, both in my ink that flows and grows, and in my cut paper piece that further highlights the intricacies of our beauty. Strength in our delicate tenderness. That’s the resilience I crave. One that allows us to be soft and supple and sprouting. May you see yourself and know your divinity. Know you are loved.
About the Artist:
Malachi Lily is a Philly-based, shapeshifting, genderfluid, black poet, artist, curator, and moth. They connect to the collective unconscious via energy work, Active Imagination, mysticism, myth, magick, folklore, and fairy tales. This channeling often takes the form of poetry, illustration, curation, and the aesthetic arts. Malachi is a liminal being of race, gender, artistic practice, and existence reclaiming the spiritual body of black and brown people. Their work offers methods to break these individual barriers and reveals the symbols, archetypes, emotions, and lessons that exist in everyone as a collective consciousness to support in transformation and the remembrance of who we are.