Mica Rose is a trans twink Tagala poet who carves queer divinity in breath, word, and movement. They are a cousin & learner to this planet, practicing oral/embodied histories as one ancestral path for growth and organizing within their communities. Mica currently works as Co-Director of Emergence at Arts Connect International.

Crystal Bi is a multimedia artist, community artist, and educator. Her participatory art projects explore themes of radical imagination, storytelling, and community care. As a public artist, Crystal works with community members to co-design creative interventions that address community issues and imagine alternative futures. Crystal is currently the Creative Civic Engagement Design Lead at Design Studio for Social Intervention.

Artist Statement:

Crystal Bi: My art is motivated by relationship building and connection. I believe that creating an environment for deeper connections to take place, as is fostered in creative spaces, is a political act. In our world, there are so many ideas, systems, and arrangements that are designed to keep us separate and othered. In the world building that is public art, these systems can be reimagined and reshuffled to form new ways of being together that are welcoming, liberatory, and nurturing. Creating spaces in public for QTBiPOC folk to remember, belong, and dream together strengthens our communities and allows us to take part in collective imagination work to build a more just society. My process aims to design spaces for interaction and reflection and healing to take place while in community. The artwork is incomplete without participation and co-creation from the audience.

Mica Rose: Intergenerational liberation pulses at the heart of my work and process. I am a Tagala and German memory artist embracing traditions like theatre, story circles, biomimicry, spoken word, and more as pathways for communal care. I believe change is spiral-y and non-linear; I commit my embodiment to change that outlasts this lifetime; I invest in emergent futures by getting in right relationship to change. My work roots in the relational histories that I form through presence with people and worlds around me. I listen and dance with waterways to learn from planet energy. I devote time to rest and pleasure, practicing polyamory as anti-colonial lovemaking. I orbit in collective action, moving at the speed of trust and knowing true transformation is done in relationship. My queer and genderfluid island ancestors (bayoguin, binabae, katalonan) kept their kinship and medicine alive by embedding their ways and essence into us: their descendants—all despite centuries of Catholic colonization. In tending to the legacies that birth me, my art carves out spacetimes for queer and trans people to embrace our selves as deities, as makers and unmakers of our worlds. 

Project Description:

Our concept for this grant revolves around community care and connection through the collective and collaborative building of outdoor altars. Deepening connections within our community and landwaters we share is an act of environmental justice and is imperative to our collective survival. We will cultivate a series of altars in public spaces that will be activated by Queer and Trans+ BIPoC folk as participants, performers, and visitors.

Each altar will center Queer and Trans+ BIPoC imagination and welcome interaction, play, reflection and conversation through the process of placemaking, taking up space, and conjuring spirit. We will create the setting and structures of the altar with natural materials and weavings. Communal foraging journeys—field trips through greenspaces in our neighborhoods—will be part of the multi-step pathway we take to develop every altar. Once an altar’s foundation is laid, we will commune time for participants to add onto the altar through a variety of prompts and guided making-activities. Provocations like “when does your spirit feel free?” “what is the shape of your liberation?” “who are your pleasure ancestors?” will accompany candle-decorating, reed-basket-weaving, and origami-folding. We will fashion various entry points so myriad peoples feel invited and represented by this communal art. Commissioned artists will add to the altars through embodied performances and healing rituals which will activate the altar space and add to the physical structure of the altar.

Every altar will be engaged and activated horizontally by ourselves, artists, performers, passerbys, and visitors to the space alike. These creative disruptions of Boston’s hypercolonial landscape will unplug witnesses from capitalist demands of urgency and disconnection, and engage us in blooming portals for interdependence, rest, and joy.

This project carves out public space for BIPoC to connect through communal making, holistic healing paths, and collective dreaming. Reckoning with the scale of luxury and space that academic, medical, and religious institutions occupy in Boston, our work reclaims public space as ours for envisioning/manifesting the community we want to live in—not just a Who, but a How we want to show up for each other.

There are very few spaces where we Queer and Trans+ BIPoC can gather in public, and even less of these that hold intentional space without substances (clubs, bars, et al). Most rare is any space where we can publicly honor the sacred lineages we come from: two-spirit, two-head, māhu, bayoguin, Obeah, and more. Our ancestries are deeply interwoven with the capitalist/religious colonialism that works to extinctify us from our places of beauty and strength within our indigenous communities. QTBIPoC in Boston today care for and show up to spaces that recognize us in our fullness: as multidimensional beings tethered to energy/spirit, who desire ways to appreciate the divine in each other. Through our histories of collaboration with Pao Arts Center, Asian American Resource Workshop, Design Studio for Social Intervention, Trans Resistance MA, The Theater Offensive, BCYF Grove Hall Senior Center, Arts Connect International, and Liyang Network, we will be accountable to the many peoples our project centers.

Love is our birthright, and we believe these nature immersions with our beloveds will resonate with queer and trans people across generations: we honor chosen family by welcoming BIPoC of all ages to this journey.