Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-03-13
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Jamaican Fruit and Flowers Bloom in Chicago
by Ana Serna

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Cris Avery's anatomy brought him and Armani Dae together in 2014. The two artists officially met for the first time at a Community Kinship Life conference in Philadelphia, where Dae lived at the time. Avery, a cofounder of CK Life, conducts conferences nationally for the organization that aim to educate the trans community on gender-affirming treatments and surgeries, health and wellness in the trans experience. Their objective is to create a "space for trans people to come into their best possible self," a mission that Avery and Dae have embraced to the fullest.

One of the many types of conferences that CK Life offers members are surgery Show-and-Tells, where people can see how different bodies heal after transitioning procedures. It's done "in a respectful way," said Avery. "Nobody touches [and] there's no catcalling." According to Avery, those conferences are the most beneficial in areas where people who have not had surgical procedures feel more alone or would need to travel several states away to see a doctor. It was in that setting, after Dae had gone to a few conferences led by Avery, where the two began sharing more of themselves with each other.

"I walk in and I get my seat, and the first person up [on stage] showing and telling is Cris," said Dae of one of his first times at a Show-and-Tell conference, "I was like, is Cris taking his pants off?!" The two had been running in the same circles for months but hadn't properly introduced themselves until then. When they found out they were both creative, a friendship blossomed organically.

"As I learned things [about gender-affirmation surgery], I helped other people," said Avery. "I have a background in insurance counseling, so I used that to help people get their procedures covered by insurance." Dae became one of those people.

For Avery and Dae, one thing led to another—helping each other through their individual journeys led to them sharing their art with each other.

Jamaican Fruit is a three-book autobiographical series written by Avery. Jamaican Fruit, Ripe Jamaican Fruit and Real Ripe Jamaican Fruit follow him through his transitional experience up until the gender-affirmed man that he is today. As the titles suggests, growing up with a Jamaican cultural background plays a big part in Avery's identity and personal expression.

"I kept all my art … my writing, in a box for 12 years. I was focusing on my own medical transition," says Avery. "That's what kept me alive," he said, referring to his art. The Jamaican Fruit served as an outlet for Avery to purge all the feelings he was struggling with during his transition.

Similarly, Dae's photography and paintings helped him deal with the body dysphoria that often accompanies the trans experience. "The majority of my artwork is about celebrating our journeys … and our bodies. There's no prototype of person. There's no one way to look," said Dae. "Regardless of race, sexuality, whatever it is, we're all beautiful. It seems like, often, trans bodies are the last on the totem pole."

Dae has four published books: Exposed Truth, which is a black-and-white photo book, and his three-part series titled after wildflowers, Hyacinth, Bachelor's Button and Touch Me Not. Exposed Truth is a compilation of photographs and stories featuring only trans bodies of color. The WiLd series is a more personal project, as it is a collection of poems, lyrics and messages to those who try to censor trans experiences. Dae's visual artworks as well as his writings capture the journey of struggling to, and then finally, embracing the body that the subject lives in.

Dae, who also comes from a Jamaican family, faced rejection from relatives both when he came out and when he came out as transgender "I said to myself, 'you're going to live your truth now or you're going to kill yourself'," said Dae. "And I wasn't going to do that."

It makes sense that Avery and Dae are showcasing their work together, as even though they create pieces in different mediums, their message is the same. Avery brings the Jamaican fruits and Dae brings the Jamaican flowers—blossoming concurrently. "I chose to … be myself out in the open," said Dae. "You can choose to tell people, 'this is my truth; this is who I am. You can either take it or leave it'."

The "Jamaican Fruit & Flowers Artistic Experience" will take place Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m. Mind + Hand, 5400 S. Pulaski Road in Chicago. Admission is free with a book purchase or preorder, or $10 without one at the door. Avery and Dae say to expect a variety of everything: dance, singing, hearing passages from both artists' books, visual artwork, as well as education on the trans experience.

Avery and Dae hope that the audience leaves their exhibition with a newfound appreciation for the beauty of each of their unique bodies. "When you're born, you're naked. Before you have to hide [your body] and layer it with clothes, makeup, wigs—you're naked," said Dae. "Celebrate your body as it is."

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

DINING Free cheeseburgers, Fulton Market dinner, Baconfest coming 2019-03-19 - —To celebrate M Burger's ninth birthday on Wed., March 20, the chain is giving away one free single cheeseburger with any purchase at ...

Gay News

DINING Cochon555 winner, Lent offerings, St. Patrick's items 2019-03-12 - —Chicago "Prince of Pork" Chef Daniel Espinoza, of Cantina Laredo, came out on top at the annual pork-centered event Cochon555. Espinoza will represent ...

Gay News

SAVOR Tuscany on Taylor; Victory Italian 2019-03-12 - "That's Italian!" Besides being the slogan for a popular spaghetti sauce, that was my immediate reaction after visiting a pair of restaurants that ...

Gay News

DINING (Re)openings, Italian culinary cruise, St. Patrick's items 2019-03-05 - —Argentine gelato producer FRIO Gelato will open a new location at Navy Pier later this spring. This will mark the company's fourth location ...

Gay News

Cochon555 returns March 3 2019-02-27 - With an all-star cast of chefs who specialize in whole animal cooking paired with farmers responsibly raising delicious heritage breed pigs, Cochon555 returns ...

Gay News

SAVOR Boleo, The Whistler 2019-02-27 - It's interesting to see the Loop during the week. As soon as five o'clock hits, droves of people leave the office-laden area as ...

Gay News

DINING Walton Street's fried chicken, Blue Door, Mardi Gras 2019-02-26 - —Walton Street Kitchen + Bar, 912 N. State St., is now serving a fried-chicken Sunday evening special. The dinner consists of a three ...

Gay News

DINING Barton G., the place to be 2019-02-26 - Barton G. The Restaurant recently opened its Chicago location, with all of the pomp and circumstance that one expects from Miami-based visionary Barton ...

Gay News

'Chicago Magic Lounge: A Family Show' Feb. 16 2019-02-13 - "Chicago Magic Lounge: A Family Show" will take place Saturday, Feb. 16, 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. The ...

Gay News

DINING New Nico chef, DropShot, Valentine's Day options 2019-02-13 - —Joe Lambert has been named the new executive chef at Nico Osteria and the Thompson Chicago hotel, 1015 N. Rush St. Lambert has ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.