Divine Artist Bios

Floating on the page there are illustrated fluffy white clouds with grey spots.

Contributing Artists 

A brown-skinned Afro-Latina person with very short black hair is looking straight ahead at you. Their chin is tilted slightly upward and their lips have a glossy shine. The person is wearing glasses with round frames that have a brown tortoise shell pattern. They are wearing a black turtleneck and are in front of a white wall.

Tati Rodriguez

(Discussing Divinity Episode)

 

Tati Rodriguez, creatively known as Honeyshot, is an Afro-Latina writer and performance artist from Chicago. Her professional background includes network television screenwriting, independent film programming, editorial work, and magazine publishing. She is currently an Editor for @pestcontrolmag , an independent arts and literary publication she co-founded this past August. She will complete her BA in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago in December 2020. A well-rounded storyteller, her work consistently centers queerness, Blackness, and Afro-Latinx identities through a joyfully nonlinear and spiritually resistant lens.

A non-binary Latinx person with a neutral expression on their face is looking straight at you from a very close distance. Their hair is pulled back with a black bandana with a few long black curls of hair pulled out and hanging over their forehead. They have blue eyes and are wearing a gold nose ring, gold hoop earrings, and a thin gold chain necklace with a circular charm hanging off the center of it. The person is wearing a black blouse with an off white colored dragon pattern on it. They are in front of a gray wall with green undertones.

Zullay Orozco

(Clothed in Righteousness and Divine Short Film)

Zullay Orozco (she/they) is a queer, non-binary, latinx, multi-disciplinary artist from Chicago. As a photographer, with a B.A. in Fashion Photography from Columbia College Chicago, they are now focusing on photo projects that are close to their heart and figuring out what that looks like everyday. Watching their mother, a beautician, come up with looks before work and also attend school for fashion design is what drove their love for fashion as a child. Whether it’s putting together color combinations or the pattern clashing they fuse into their everyday style choices, Zullay is always gonna dress. Inspired by their mom, their queer community, and babies, they hope to encourage others to take risks in fashion and style themselves however they see fit.

 

Zullay also co-owns @shopbabymilk where they create your favorite kitschy earrings to top off your look!

A brown-skinned Black person with long dark green braids is in a dimly lit room. The area behind them is out of focus so you can only see what appears to be a brown wall and maybe a window up top. You are so close to them that you can only see their face and they have a neutral expression. The person is looking up and off to the side so that only the side of their face is visible. There’s a soft light reflecting off of their lips, cheek, and eyebrow bone. They are wearing a small nose ring and a large hoop earring.

Jasmine Barber

(Community Tarot Reading & Manifesto Writing Workshop)

 

Jasmine A Barber, also known as the rapper J Bambii, is an artist, educator, tarot reader, and cartoon-lover from the Southside of Chicago. She is the founder and creator of The Brown Skin Lady Show & the community healing initiative called “Come Together”. Jasmine has also released a tape called “RETROGRADE” under her alias. She is currently working on another body of music & more community focused events.

A brown-skinned Black person with long red braided hair is standing on the sidewalk under a street underpass structure. Their body is facing towards you and their eyes are looking straight ahead. They are wearing a white knit beanie and an oversized light brown trench coat that’s opened up. You can see that under their coat they’re wearing a cropped black tank top and black jeans with a black belt. The person is wearing a choker necklace with small white vertical beads on it. They are wearing winged black eyeliner. You also see that they are wearing a silver stud in their lip piercing under the center of their bottom lip.

Talia K. Wright

(Altar Building Workshop + Divine Short Film)

 

Talia K. Wright (they/she) was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. They are a poetry/prose writer and 2019 Pink Door Fellow. Their work is informed by blackness, the great migration, and spending summer afternoons dancing under their grandparents’ Mulberry tree. Talia spends most of their time bookselling, hanging out with other people’s pets, practicing textile art, and generally being a Virgo.

A brown-skinned black person with their hair braided back is looking straight ahead at you with an inviting look on their face. They are leaning back on a counter and their arms are extended out to the sides with their hands resting on the counter. There are shelves on the wall behind them filled with jars of herbs and bottles of oils. In front of them you can see a green plant peeking out, slightly blocking part of their left arm. The person is wearing a cropped white tank top and light beige pants. You can see a tattoo on the front of their right shoulder that wraps onto their collar bone. The tattoo is a string of text in black ink that’s not readable. The person’s chin is tilted slightly upward and they are wearing big dangly matching metal earrings with stacked shapes. The top part of the earring is a small flat circle, under that is a flat oval shape that has a face etched on it, and the bottom part of the earring is a line that’s curved downwards like a rainbow.

Mariah Emerson from hrblgy

(Intro to Ethical Herbology)

Mariah Emerson is a multi-hyphenate healer who’s allowing Spirit to move through her. She utilizes her spiritual gifts and nerdy interests to fuel her as an herbalist, ethnobotanist, oracle, writer, and certified sound healer. Mariah is manifesting this work with her team at Hrblgy — an apothecary and wellness initiative with a mission to bring wellness back home through personal healing, education, and community care.


Hrblgy is an apothecary and wellness brand on a mission to bring wellness back home. This mission is rooted in access, alignment, and reclamation as we cultivate space for the Collective’s conscious remembering. Here, you will find information, services, and stories around plant medicine, wellness, healing, and holistic spiritual care meant to ground you from root to crown.

A brown-skinned Black woman is looking straight ahead at you from a very close distance. The background is out of focus with brown and black colored shapes. Her natural tight curly black hair is pulled up so that it’s sitting on top of her head. She has dark brown eyes and a neutral expression on her face though giving a slight smile. There’s a freckle on her chin. She’s wearing a black tank top.

Monique Marshaun

(Divine Short Film)

 

Monique Marshaun is an actor and writer who was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. Monique’s work is influenced by magical realism and fairy tales, her own healing journey and discovery of Self, and the complexities of existing as a Black woman in spaces that are both threatened and enchanted by her presence. Monique is fascinated with reclaiming and embodying the whimsical and the fantastical. She intends to tell stories that center Black lives in everyday epics of love and adventure, in tales that assert Black people as their own saviors as they embody their innate magic and holiness.

An illustration of a brown skinned angel with curly dark hair, sitting on one of the fluffy white clouds.

Front Porch Oracles

(Divine Short Film)

 

The Front Porch Oracles is a performance duo dedicated to staging stories that honor our cultures and histories with integrity, equity, and love. They aim to transform our relationship with performance to one of healing, in a place where we take care of ourselves, our actors, and our audiences. They see our untapped potential in everything that we do and commit themselves to unleashing our collective magic. 

Kenyetta Johnson

(Divine Short Film)

 

Kenyetta Johnson is a Freelance Creative Producer and Writer with a passion for storytelling! As a black, bisexual woman from the southside of Chicago, she believes it is crucial to tell the stories of the people often forgotten by mainstream and popular media. Currently, she is one of the Creative Producers for the MANIFOLD Docuseries, a series that explores the stories of Black LGBTQ+ folks across Chicago. Kenyetta’s overall goal is to make content that matters to her community and to help those around her meet their full potential, both creatively and personally.

An illustration of a brown skinned angel with curly dark hair, sitting on one of the fluffy white clouds stands in for an artist photo.

Sommer Arielle Rodriguez

(Divine Short Film)

 

Bio coming soon

Dev Michael

(Divine Short Film)

 

Dev is a Chicago based educator and a writer. Coming from a religious (ish) family, they aim to explore and create their own traditions as they explore their own spirituality. Dev’s writing is often inspired by understanding their own identity and its unique intersectionalities, their complicated relationship with religion and spirituality, the relationship they have to their small Midwestern hometown, and their relationship with the city of Chicago. Their work often explores themes of mindfulness, existentialism, queerness, and mental health.

An illustration of a light skinned angel with curly dark hair, flying next to one of the fluffy white clouds.

Zola Chatman

(Divine Short Film)

 

Bio Coming Soon

An illustration of a brown skinned angel with curly dark hair, sitting on one of the fluffy white clouds.

Home

Jackson Margolis’s Scratching the Surface Membrane is a two-volume zine series that covers the life of the artist dealing with chronic pain and isolation over the course of 2019 and 2020. Volume 2 will go up on Thursday, July 7th, so please return to this page to view the complete collection. In these works, Margolis, who has a history with the furry community, speaks to identity politics through fetishism. Scratching underscores a tension between fantasy and the self: each zine is a year-long anthology of honest projections of the artist reimagined as anthropomorphized dragons. By juxtaposing truth and fantasy in this way, Margolis seems to question the very core of how we understand identity and realness. What is more real: how we see ourselves or how others see us? 

 

Many of the images in Scratching are sketches upcycled from the margins of readings and notebooks, simultaneously capturing Margolis’s artistic process and representing intimate and candid moments of self-expression. Even the title, Scratching the Surface Membrane, touches on the sheer spontaneity of this piece, which can be best described as a non-literal, superficial exploration of thoughts and ideas surrounding identity without an outside perspective. As such, the zines are fundamentally diaristic, chronicling the artist’s evolving sense of self over time. This change, for example, can be traced through the difference in style of the dragons depicted in the two volumes. In Volume 1, the dragons grab at their marshmallowy bodies, emphasizing their plushness and roundness. Although the softness of the dragons remains an important hallmark of Margolis’s style, in Volume 2, one can observe a far greater presence of angular snouts and muscular bodies as well as less pronounced breasts. This transformation in the dragons’ forms serves as a thought record narrating the artist’s own journey starting Hormone Replacement Therapy in 2020. 

 

However, Scratching is just as much a regression as it is a progression. Driven by nostalgia, sentimentality and comfort, Margolis’s work encourages us to connect with our primal child and hug our inner monsters. In fact, this motif is seen literally through the zines where dragons are often portrayed hugging what can be interpreted as their partners, spirits, or twins. At the same time, while Margolis clearly draws influence from contemporary subcultures and the digital age, the artist’s inspirations can also be traced back to antiquity. In particular, Margolis cites the Paleolitihic Lion Man as one of the earliest instances of people showing that they are capable of imagination. So, anthropomorphism becomes a pure form of fantasy that can be traced throughout human culture and time. For Margolis, though, anthropomorphism is not only a way to connect to broader human history but also to the artist’s own past. Margolis recalls being a hyper-imaginative child, obsessed with drawing fantasy creatures, especially dragons, over and over. Thus, the work of Scratching is at once a moving forward and a revisiting. The temporality of the piece becomes jumbled, asking us to consider how memories and histories shape our presents and futures. Similarly, how does drawing the same image over and over for a year represent both the passing and stopping of time? 

 

–Afriti Bankwalla, curator 

Pay attention to this space. What do you notice? What assumptions do you make about the person who lives here? Bedrooms are complicated, intimate spaces that mirror ourselves back to us and anyone who sees them. They are where we feel ourselves (and others) the most, where we smell ourselves the most, and where we see ourselves the most. Literally, we see ourselves in our mirrors when getting ready; more abstractly, we do so in the scattered objects that reveal our styles, hobbies, and pasts. How do we root ourselves in our bedrooms and the objects that fill them? More specifically, how do such objects and spaces evoke performances through which our ever-evolving identity is constructed? What are the performances we play out every day, whether there is an audience present or not? In what way is our identity an extension of these performances? 

 

The artists featured in In My Room approach these questions with works that attempt to track personal growth and changing identities over time. Scratching the Surface Membrane by Jackson Margolis is the artist’s exploration of the self through anthropomorphic dragons; it features two year’s worth of sketches that juxtapose themes of nostalgia and evolution. In ted bourget’s virtual world, Some Sludge, the audience can roam freely through bourget’s life in Chicago over the course of four seasons. Time flows abstractly in this world, as players swim in Lake Michigan, wait for the bus, and walk through UChicago’s quad with bourget. aza’s art film, Chemtrails, presents a collage of photographic bursts from the artist’s private life as a way of playing with the strange and illicit disruption of time that occurs when one stops to look, assess, and take a selfie. Through their own whimsical variations on self-portraiture, bourget, aza, and Margolis address the difficulty of capturing something as in-flux as our perceptions of ourselves. They surrender linearity and narrativity in favor of an understanding of the past, present, and future as something more circular and connected.  

 

Each art object in this exhibit also represents a unique understanding of performance and liveness, and by placing them together, In My Room hopes to underscore and bring light to the performances we encounter every day that shape our lives and selves. In her theoretical text Queer Phenomenology, scholar Sara Ahmed posits the social as an arrangement of space. She explains that, even in a dark, hitherto-unexplored room, we find our way due to a basic familiarity with how the social is arranged. We know a room must have walls and a door, so we reach our hand out and feel along the door until we find what feels familiar to us as a doorknob. Ahmed uses this understanding of the social as spatial to riff on the idea of queer identity as an orientation. In what way is our identity a result of the way we are oriented in space and the objects and people towards which we are oriented? 

 

As you proceed through the exhibit, consider the way you move, consider your activity and engagement with each room. As you click through the pages of Scratching the Surface Membrane, allow yourself to think about the interactivity of flipping through a book. As you explore Some Sludge, think about the ephemerality of playing a video game. Can you ever exactly recreate that experience? As you watch Chemtrails, think about the small spectacle of the film format and of taking a selfie or going out to a club.

 

Please stay tuned throughout the week, as new content will be added regularly. 

 

Enormous thank you to Hot Wheelz Festival as well as Jill, Lauren, Jackie, ted, and aza. 

 

–Afriti Bankwalla, curator 

Jackson Margolis is an interdisciplinary artist who holds a BFA in Drawing from the Pratt Institute and is currently an artist in residence in “parents’ basement”. Jackson’s art is Identity-based work, concerned with themes of tenderness, comfort, regression, fantasy and the apocalypse. Particularly fascinated with American subcultures, Jackson makes use of fetish aesthetics to call attention to online spaces. Depicting what are most easily described as dragons, Jackson’s art asks audiences to connect with their primal child self and hug their inner monsters. Underscored in all of Jackson’s art is a desperate search for energy through color and material. Jackson is currently working on a new project that will deal directly with new-age world hurt, regression during the internet age, and the rabbit hole of the psyche.  

 

Insta: @lamesaltcrystal