The Comfort of Queer Family Wisdom 2013 Calendar
Elisha Lim is a prolific illustrator, curator of the amazing 2-Qtpoc festival in Montreal, co-blogger of Call Me They and has toured as a performer with Michelle Tea’s Sister Spit. Lim’s CV boasts several art exhibits across North America, from Dis-commodify: Lesbians + Queers Unmaking the Word Site Fest in Brooklyn, to their collaboration with their sister Thea in 100% Mixed Race at A Space Gallery. Their calendars and book 100 Butches have been featured in Bitch Magazine’s Store, were covered by the likes of Xtra!, Curve and Now Magazine, and held an illustrious position at FAG (Feminist Art Gallery). Most of all, the name Elisha Lim incites squeals of admiration from fans of their touching and highly political art.
Lim’s most recent calendar for the 2013 year, The Comfort of Queer Family Wisdom, follows the story of their time in Montreal as they contemplate radical racialized queer politics and attempt to find comfort and community. For Lim, the personal is political, and their illustrations speak volumes about their esthetic, politics and intimate life. Filled with images of those who’ve touched their life, of queer icons and brave friends, The Comfort of Queer Family Wisdom is truly a collector’s item.
Of course, here at Come As You Are, we are adoring fans of the lovely Lim, and have gotten together with them to ask them a few questions about their work. Their 2013 The Comfort of Queer Family Wisdom, is available at Come As You Are for $20. Also, make sure to check-out their adorable commercial posted at the end of the interview!
CAYA: Your work lives at the intersection of race, gender, sexualities politics and the very personal, in such a lovely and organic way. You seem to have a knack for interpreting gender and race theory on such an intimate level. How do you come up with the textual content of your work?
EL: First of all, THIS IS SO NICE! You've paid so much attention to my work, I feel all weepy. THANK YOU!
I feel very, very lucky, because it comes so naturally to me to write these stories. It comes down to love. I genuinely love and admire every single person I've ever written about. So in a way it's one big, long gush. I love Sissies for being brave and kickass and sexy. I love butches for being visible and unflinching and fun. I love the queer family members in the 2013 calendar - they truly, truly got me through the day last year.
CAYA: The folks that you illustrate come across as strong, active and interesting, spanning genders, sexual expressions, races and other minority positionalities in the world. They really emanate a legend-like quality and have voices that challenge oppressive norms. Is this an intentional chronicling amazing queers? EL: It wasn't really - hahahahha it was more like chronicling my crushes. Have you ever thought of doing that? It turns everyone into a legend and hero. CAYA: Part of what inspired The Comfort of Queer Family Wisdom, as I understand it, was your isolating experience as a racialized queer in Montreal. To combat this, you make your curatorial debut with the 2-Qtpoc festival, featuring the work of racialized queer artists. Could you perhaps speak to this experience?
EL: I have to say, it was really humbling. I didn't realize how arrogant I was.
I think anyone could relate to say - being in a queer bubble. When you're out of it, whether stuck in some kind of queer-phobic office, reunion, or town, it's kind of amazing how much it changes us. Right? It breaks down our confidence, our self-esteem, all of the truths that we hold to be self-evident.
I had never felt that way for months at a time. I was surrounded by people who were kind and warm, but truly didn't believe that I had a right to be in the province, or neat ideas, or sex appeal. It transformed me into an angry, bitter person. It really, truly blows my mind to think of the queers and racialized folks who live like that for years and lifetimes. They are incredible survivors.
CAYA: In your work, and in The Comfort of Queer Family Wisdom in particular, you often make reference to feminist, queer, and race theorists/activists throughout history, from Mitsuye Yamada to Punam Khosla. Is it this lineage of critical thought and community activism what you mean by “Queer Family Wisdom?”
EL: One of the important messages for me, is 'you are not alone.' Whether you're a racialized queer, or fighting for change, there are many generations of people on your side. YAY! <3 <3 <3
Check out Elisha's website at www.elishalim.com