, after Julián


24" × 37.5"

fabric paint, polyester, organdy, jersey, thread, metal components, pearl, lipstick, houseplants, cardboard, and binder clips

filed in: 2018 Fiber Photo Garments Image

Inspired by the 2018 children's book Julián is a Mermaid, “, after Julián” is a practice in the construction of identity and a reflection on notions of representation and embodiment.

The book begins with a young boy named Julián spotting three people dressed as mermaids on the New York City subway. He becomes instantly enamored and a dream-like sequence shows him transforming into a mermaid. Once at home, he utilizes curtains, houseplants, and lipstick to fashion himself into a makeshift mermaid. The story ends on a note of joy and acceptance. I read this story to be a metaphor for the transgender experience.

A story about the full acceptance and celebration of a gender nonconforming child of color is a rare find in the children’s literature world. In the same way that Julián saw himself in the mermaids, I saw myself within Julián in the ways he attempted the manifest the self-image of his daydreams. My career first began as a children's book designer for Candlewick Press, the publisher of Julián is a Mermaid and was able to witness the design and creation of the book. This process came during a time when I had began questioning my own gender identity. I decided to borrow Julián’s techniques to fashion myself in Julián's image.

a black and white photograph hung against a wall with a blue garment draped on it
a seated figure photographed in black and white. They are wearing a headband with ferns and roses coming out of it.
an image of a blue garment with various white painted patterns on it
a pearl necklace
two gold colored earrings. They are similar to the shape of an anchor and have a hammered detail near the bottom