Sunday, November 2, 2014

100 Crushes by Elisha Lim

Butches, sissies, and other gender-fluid folk: Canadian artist Elisha Lim showers love on them all in 100 Crushes. Queer people of colour are individually celebrated and given voice in Lim's single-panel illustrated essays. Simple outline sketch portraits, with added rich colours, are accompanied by hand-lettered text and surrounded with hand-drawn decorative frames.

100 Crushes contains selections from old and new serialized works. Gender expression, sexual orientation and pop culture are explored with dignity and appreciation for the beauty in diversity.

I had never before given much thought to the way the performance of masculinity shifts in relation to ethnicity and cultural backdrop. "100 Butches Number 12" moved to the West and was disconcerted to find that she didn't draw lesbian attention in the way she had in Singapore. Layers of emasculating Chinese stereotypes meant she had to seek out a new style: "I sport fur coats, sunglasses indoors, and bleached tips. Maybe the girls don't get it, but in time they will. Chinese men are sexy!"

Pee-wee Herman is the subject in one of the panels from "Sweetest Taboo: Memoirs of a Queer Child in the Eighties." As a child, Lim thought his show was terrifying and "wished that he would stop drawing so much attention to difference." Eventually, she recognized his courage and learned to love him for it.

Lim's interview with Rae Spoon (First Spring Grass Fire) is included in the section "They." Spoon says, "A nice life is when people get my pronoun right."

By sharing personal stories, 100 Crushes helps us to get things right.

Readalike: On Loving Women (Diane Obomsawin). BTW, Lim also did the cover art for Ivan Coyote's One in Every Crowd.

Check out Lim's website, where there's good stuff like God Loves Queers and bumblebees. I also like her brief (51 seconds) claymation film on YouTube: 100 Butches #9 Ruby. 

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