Jun 5th 2021

Water Becomes Blood

@ Woman Made Gallery

2150 S Canalport Ave, 4A-3, Chicago, IL 60608

Opening Saturday, June 5th, from 3PM - 7pM

On view through Sunday, June 27th

Woman Made Gallery (WMG) is pleased to present “Water Becomes Blood,” a group exhibition juried by Aliya Parashar and Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas O’Neal featuring the work of 9 LGBTQ+ artists exploring the importance of non-familial relationships that foster a sense of nurturing, community, and acceptance. The exhibition is on view at the gallery.

When safety is not always promised in blood relations, chosen families can create a space that centers around the security of their individuals. These families host love, joy, and acceptance at their core via unquestioned support. This allows members to explore and self-actualize in the form of true liberation. They also provide room for members to question themselves and the greater community during the process of their journey.

In their jurors’ statement, Parashar and Najeebah Dumas – O’Neal write: “What is the process of garnering a family? Water Becomes Blood explores queer/trans relationships surrounding the theme of “found families.” We have begun to look towards work that explores networks, familial connections, and relationships with blood relatives—further solidifying the environments which constitute a group of identities that have found each other in the domain of building intimate relationships. We have selected a group of works which involve various media to explore these metaphorical connections best; the complications in/with finding families are best represented through a range of materials to fully render a thoughtful and accurate representation of the subject at play.

Woman Made Gallery recognizes the lack of representations of LGBTQ+ folks. While it is a dedicated space for women and non-binary folk, we have also begun to explore the ideas of transness and queerness in all of its representations. In doing so forming intimate relationships with the artists is a beautiful mirroring of the networks we consider as found families. Mysticism, religion, sexuality, mythos, materiality, and intimacy are all explored in their complications of consanguineous relations. Found families are manifested as complicated, non-nuclear, and rejecting hegemonic standards of familial connections. Thus, providing nuanced representations of intimacy and family.

After all, where would we be without our kin?”

Exhibiting Artists:

Vani Aguilar

Arielle Cottingham

Micah Dillman


Sophia Karina English

Haylie Jimenez

Sebastian Olayo

silky shoemaker

Xitlalli Sixta Tarin

About the Jurors:

Aliya Parashar (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist who works in mediums of fibers + materials and installation art in order to communicate the intersection of gender identity, post-colonial theory, and mythology. She strives to strike a balance between celebrating femininity and honoring bodies while creating a vision of resistance through garments and fiber production. Her work has been featured in SHUBA, Paper, Post, Crux, and Posture Magazine with her most recent show taking place at ACREprojects in 2019. Aliya holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago after transferring from Otis College of Art and Design. She is now pursuing her MA/MFA dual degree at the California College of Arts in San Francisco.

Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas O’Neal is a Chicago-based visual artist, educator, and independent curator. Zakkiyyah’s work is most often initiated by personal and social histories related to family legacy, queerness, community making, and interiority. Zakkiyyah’s practice borrows from visual traditions such as social portraiture, video assemblage, and vernacular found family sourced materials. Currently, Zakkiyah’s body of work prioritizes social relationships related to queerness, Black women’s identity formation, family, social architectures, and the desire for connectedness. Zakkiyyah is a Co-founder of Concerned Black Image Makers, a collective-driven project that prioritizes shared experiences and concerns by lens-based artists of the Black diaspora; and most recently has been featured in exhibitions at South Bend Museum of Art, Goldfinch Gallery, Blanc Gallery, Glass Curtain Gallery, ADDS DONNA, and Zhou B. Art Center.

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