teo octavia

Title: Uplift
Medium: Digital Illustration
Year Created: 2021


Artist Statement:

For my piece, I chose to take an autobiographical approach by featuring a self-portrait alongside stylized text. The words “trans Southeast Asians” are specifically crafted using Indonesian batik print. I focus my piece on trans Southeast Asians because due to legacies of war, colonization, and imperialism, trans Southeast Asian people often experience a fragmentation of identity in relation to race/ethnicity and place. Through my piece, I want to communicate the importance of uplifting the fullness of trans Southeast Asian stories, narratives, and voices – apart from what has been imposed upon us by external, harmful forces.

“Uplift” embodies the theme of BIPOC pride & resilience because as an Indonesian American in Oakland, I have found it difficult to find and connect with fellow Indonesians or underrepresented Southeast Asians. Despite this, I know that my community has a lot to express and be recognized for. I know that we are part of what makes the Bay Area and the broader community unique, vibrant, and resilient. This is why it is imperative that trans Southeast Asians are encouraged to connect and foster a space that promotes their creativity, healing, and well-being. The history of the trans Southeast Asian community is tangled in tales of diaspora and displacement due to war, but I counter this by imagining a space where we are uplifted, of belonging and home.

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