For New England Therians/Otherkin
A New England Howl occurred August 5th in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The group met at the Harvard Museum of Natural History and then went out for lunch. There were only 7 attendants and were a mixed group of therians and otherkin. They are keeping in touch via a facebook group called “New England Howlers” and the url is here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/193804347416213/.
Myself and your-deer helped organize it on the werelist, and some others managed to get it on Facebook to find a few more folk. We’ll probably meet up again in the next few months. If you are in the New England area and are curious about making meet up plans, you should visit the facebook page.
Please keep in mind that the group is for meeting up, not necessarily general discussion. Also, remember that minors will always need parental attendance. We’re just some folk from the internet after all.
I thought I should briefly talk about my context as an animal person/therian and why I am making work. Any of what I have written you may ask me questions about or push me to expand upon - I joined this blog and have been slowly becoming more active online again because I believe in communcation and being as much of an open book as I can so that I can do good things with others. I don’t know what that means yet, but, with time I hope it leads me to likeminded folk.
I am a canine person. I understand that my sense of being a therian is due to me being bipolar. I saw a quote recently by someone on the werelist that does a good job describing what I think happened to me while I was dealing with my first bipolar episodes around age 11. Essentially they found out about the idea of therianthropy at a critical time when they were in need of understanding themselves. In my case, I needed an explaination for my mood swings and mental states. Since my earliest memories I have always felt the way my brain functioned and processed emotions was very different from my family and most of my friends at the time. In short, just when I was starting to realize my ‘playing pretend’ outside was as serious to me as my ability to rationally control my emotions was deteriorating, I labeled myself a red wolf. This was around 2002. I more frequently identify with eastern coyote at this point, but, to me it is not taxonomical. I do not mentally shift anymore due to taking my medication for bipolar, and this has ruined my ability to understand what I am feeling as an animal person other than hazard a guess at “canine”. I only experience phantom senses daily. I generally feel as though taking care of being bipolar has stripped away what were my ‘mental shifts’ and sense of knowing myself. I do not feel species dysphoria, but I do feel a longing for my old mental states at times. Taking lithium daily has so far limited my ability to feel extreme emotional states in general. I hope that over time I can recover them safely and perhaps know myself anew with a richer range of emotions.
I wish to make work for animal people, and truly to encompass the non-human identity which in some ways includes the wide spectrum of lives and experiences, because we need it. We do not have fine arts representation, really, by fine artists who are otherkin or therians outright. I have struggled for a decade to write about who I am and I basically have realized this is not the best medium for me to express myself. I feel more me in the photos of myself I have submitted here and the drawings I have made than in the words I am writing now. I hope that my drawings, sculptures, and photographs will inspire others to use their body and craft to explore what we feel. I do not know if I can make work to describe how others feel, but, I hope in tackling the self portrait I can carve a path for others to do the same. Language starts when two people start communicating and I want to use my craft to communicate that which I cannot do in the written word.
I also need to better live my life acknowledging my identity and needs. I have struggled to include my trans identity, therianthropy, and bipolar identity in any of my work even though they are the three most influencial pieces of who I am. Because talking in written word is not the best way for me to communicate, I have largely ignored these things while I have been learning metalsmithing and the world of sculpture and illustration. I hope that by taking on the challenge of forcing myself to tell others who I am through my craft, I will better understand who I am and what I need on a daily level. For now, I barely understand what it means to bodily feel canine. Phantom sensations have been confusing enough that right there I feel I could make years of work in explorations.
I also hope that in learning how to do this, I will meet others who wish to follow a similar path with me. I hope that if they find this blog, they would be willing to meet me in real life and consider making larger art projects about what it means to be an animal person or otherkin/nonhuman.
I make not to necessarily confirm that I am an animal person because there is no need for confirmation. I make because I am a self-made person who believes in invoking and exploring what you are. I make because I want to make in the context of those who are like me and to converse about what similarities and differences we have. I make to communicate. I am trying to communicate not what I am but what I am doing with who I am. I want you to know how I am handling my identity and what part of my life it influences and enriches or hinders and the experiences therein.
What it means to me may not be what it means to others but that does not stop me from wanting to use my skills to speak for a larger group of people who may want to work with others who may understand them better. It may mean that those who are involved in activism may collaborate with me so I can help them spread their message.
If you know of works I should know about, artists, or if you ever want to work with me, please contact me. Email always works: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this helps in understanding why I am making these works.