One thought on “Jamie Diaz

  1. Dear Jamie Diaz:

    My friends and I were discussing three of your paintings, found on your site. Here’s what came up for me.

    Some critics hold that art must be personal to be original; others believe art must have a social dimension to have an impact. “Trans is Beautiful and Healthy” does both — describes individuals and simultaneously a movement, and that tension between the two was enormously moving.

    It’s bold in its celebration of non-conformity, a gay parade unphased by the scowls from the sidelines. “Art” in the form of a self-portrait, links arms with “Activism” and bespectacled “Literature” as well it might, because activism must be rooted in history and poetry — in literature — to avoid useless repetitions of past strategies while remaining inspired to go forward.

    “Art” and “Literature” are the pillars of empathy, the ability to stand in another’s shoes. In this case, we were invited to stand in the shoes of the three figures. When we did — when we looked into the eyes of the protagonists — we saw beyond the tags at the bottom MTF, FTM, or “Non-Conforming” — If this is the aesthetic of a non-conformist culture, it’s a fine poke-in-the-eye to the dreary conformist culture of the mainstream.

    In “Self-Portrait,” we were struck by the drama — more personal than “Trans” but still with that courage to rally us all. The tension I felt was around the portrait’s futuristic, unadorned, chin-up attitude and the sadness in its eyes; if not sadness, a consciousness of the past hurts in herself and others. While the forces of cold blues and blacks in the background swirl around her, she remains remarkably warm-toned in contrast, showing the nature of the heart within.

    How to convey pain and trauma that is invisible to the eye? “The Self-Portrait” with green hair makes this possible. The face is half-in shadow, soft, pretty, and unperturbed. But below the neck, the scars are plain to see. These were the battle scars visited upon her as she led the gay parade I imagined. It was as though some had attacked her and smashed holes in a mannequin with a hatchet. Was it for the crime of non-conformity, for man-hands combined with a woman’s shape? Drawing upon our empathy, we felt the perilous irony of her universe — how liberation and injury went hand in hand.

    These three artworks will be hard to forget.



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