This year’s CRUSH Zine is a mini, slideshow version of our annual publication bringing you brilliance, boldness and variety in Bi+ arts and letters. The theme of this year’s call for submissions was “intersectional queerness, the ways different marginalizations impact our queerness.” Thank you to all of our amazing contributors and volunteers for making this issue happen.
Adriana Rolston is a writer, a sex-positive artist and a feminist queer-do. She works in abortion care and believes in reproductive justice and aborting the patriarchy. She creates abstract vulva art and makes way too many puns about cunnilingus.
Vulva Rebel is a bisexual love letter to vulvas, a fan gurl pussy moment and a celebration of something major-a. Vulva Rebel playfully fights pussy shame while spreading body positivity. With a pun on the tongue, Vulva Rebel gets lippy before the pussy altar. Rooted in sex positivity and intersectional feminism, Vulva Rebel specializes in handmade paper mache vulva canvasses and bold graphic prints.
Alyssa Pisciotto is a queer artist from LaSalle, Ontario, and now resides in Toronto. She graduated from OCAD University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Drawing and Painting and minoring in Printmaking. Painting and printmaking are her primary practice. Her current work revolves around themes of colour, line and shape, and how they interact with one another.
Amanda Lederle (they/them) is a Toronto-based artist and facilitator. Amanda has always been interested in life as a journey, and illustrates interiors and exteriors of residences to celebrate the places we call home. Currently, Amanda has explored lips and legs in their paintings as an exploration of expression and relationship with the self. Amanda is also the founder of CreateBeing, a company that focuses on creativity and mental health.
This house was hand drawn and coloured by the artist with a limit of seven colours. The limitations challenge their creativity, and are an expression of their intersectionalities and limitations of access. Using markers and pencil crayons of the colours, the vibrant house opposes the status quo of a typical house exterior, making this house stand out in a typical neighbourhood. This is a reflection of the artist’s view of queerness. Every home is unique and can have a colourful personality that is its own, but the structure of the building (the windows, steps and doors, etc.) are all similar parts to a house. Like a human body, houses have the same structures, but it is the way we decorate, colour and present them that makes us stand apart, making this a friendly reminder that, despite our perceived differences on the outside, we are all made from the same infrastructures.
Andra Ragusila is a Toronto-based queer artist who works with diverse media, such as drawing, painting, ceramics and large-scale installations. She has studied with artists Ed Pien, Brian Smith and Ellie Smallwood. Her work focuses on narratives of identity and reconnecting with the lost parts of ourselves.
My image tackles the question of What does intercommunity solidarity look like? In this piece, I am trying to portray solidarity between the queer community and the Black community. Together, the colours of the two women represent the Pride rainbow flag—one painted in red, orange and yellow, and the other in green, blue and purple. The loving embrace and smiles show the comfort the LGBTQ2SIA community has offered to the Black Lives Matter movement. We all need to embrace the Black community in solidarity at this time, as well as to do our part to undo the societal systems that allow for systemic racism to continue. Black women and Black queer people are particularly vulnerable to violence and do not receive the media attention they deserve. This piece is intended to show solidarity towards Black queer women and to show that they have allies who are willing to stand with them and fight for them.
Jay is a queer and whimsical unicorn who uses his imagination to stir up creative things. He creates children’s books, and is a training art therapist. Jay believes that art, social justice and healing are connected, which he cultivates in his art workshops and community support work.
Maren Kathleen Elliott
Maren Kathleen Elliott (she/her) is an interdisciplinary creative bisexual bipolar gemini who has recently transplanted from Edmonton to Ottawa. Her modalities include illustration, mixed media, movement and music. Maren is passionate about arts accessibility, storytelling, mental health advocacy, and community activation.
These pieces are a selection of works from my ongoing series “Dat Bipolar Lyfe/Scrap Notes,” an autobiographical comic exploration of navigating life as a queer femme with mental illness. In our society, there are illnesses divided by public perception of “safe” and “dangerous.” While any illness is a cross to bear, one that comes with social stigma puts an individual against so many more odds. People love to champion a white, put-together, “safe” middle-class person while they perform a kind of monkey-dance feel-good story about “overcoming” depression or anxiety. Heck, I have been that person. But the support and enthusiasm dries up pretty quickly when more “taboo” and nuanced stories arise. Psychosis. Substance abuse and addiction. Eating disorders (especially experienced by folx with larger bodies). Anger. Sexual abuse. Trauma. Suicide…. Suddenly people become uncomfortable. Maybe it’s confusing or threatening, or maybe they’d rather have the privilege of just not thinking about it. They look away. This drawing series has a two-fold purpose: The first is a kind of art therapy that helps me express my emotions and challenges. The second is to share some of them. Letting others bare eyes on this gritty stuff is kind of gross and embarrassing. But it also gives people to bear witness to some of the more taboo stuff, for a moment, validating its existence as a very (albeit often steered-around) real thing.
Mārta Ziemelis is a Toronto-based emerging poet and established literary translator. Her Latvian-English translations include “Do you exist, or did my mind invent you?”, a poem by Gunta Micāne (TransLitVolume 11: An Anthology of Literary Translations, 2017), two short stories in the anthology The Book of Riga (Comma Press, 2018), and Narcoses, a poetry collection by Madara Gruntmane, co-translated with Richard O’Brien (Parthian, 2018). She is proudly bi, enthusiastically nerdy, and would not be a functioning human without coffee, chocolate and trees.Mārta Ziemelis is a Toronto-based emerging poet and established literary translator. Her Latvian-English translations include “Do you exist, or did my mind invent you?”, a poem by Gunta Micāne (TransLitVolume 11: An Anthology of Literary Translations, 2017), two short stories in the anthology The Book of Riga (Comma Press, 2018), and Narcoses, a poetry collection by Madara Gruntmane, co-translated with Richard O’Brien (Parthian, 2018). She is proudly bi, enthusiastically nerdy, and would not be a functioning human without coffee, chocolate and trees.
Mon (Mace) is an immigrant Latina. “The path to understanding all the pieces that make me who I am is just beginning. There is a multitude of facets that make up my humanity and I am on a journey to discover them and the relationship to my expression and queerness. All I know is I want to experience all there is, in the most honest way, with kindness for myself and others.”
These are just our vessels, they come and go, but our energy is universal – how beautiful is it to have found you in this lifetime – how amazing is it to see you again in this form. Pieces of ourselves through time, though I’m different now, you feel familiar and I am at peace with you. I am happy with you – with you I can be myself – beyond what I have been able to before. I gave you my heart, mind and body; every kiss, touch, and embrace was yours, all that I am I gave you.
My eyes belonged with you, my smile to light up the darkness, I know we’ve been hurt before, I know it is scary to trust so, but with you in silence was the most beautiful symphony.
Our souls danced through the ages, against all odds I found you again my love … I know you don’t remember me, nor do I remember our full selves, still I feel you more than words can tell. Fly away from me life of mine, I see you going, dancing in red, moving effortlessly. Beautiful life of mine carry our memories, maybe in this lifetime we aren’t fated to hold each other under this river of stars. I’ll see you again my love, I will be patiently waiting, and hoping the next time our energies converge and dance to a symphony of silence, we remember us.
Until then I will be patiently waiting my love, for our light is worth waiting for.
I will look for you in a thousand eyes, I will look across time.
For now, though, our vessels will move on, for destiny has caught on.