"The Judas Goat" 36x24
and an Interview with Rebecca Juro
Artist Jackie: Breaking New Ground In Trans-Relevant Media
When you first view the artwork of Boston-based trans-identified artist Jackie Francis, who likes to go by Artist Jackie, you’ll see a fresh take on pop culture, but at the same time, you know it reminds you of something. Her work has been compared to Jean-Michael Basquiat, who’s been called “The Black Artist” and legendary street artist Keith Haring, who’s popularly considered to be “The Gay Artist”. Is Artist Jackie “The Trans Artist”? Some people certainly think so. As a trans journalist and a mediamaker myself, I was very interested when I was asked to interview Artist Jackie about her work, how it’s influenced by modern trans and American culture, and more. The interview was originally done live on my Internet radio show, “The Rebecca Juro Show”. The full interview can be heard here.
Rebecca Juro: You’re a musician as well as an artist…
Artist Jackie: Correct, yeah.
RJ: …but you started getting into this art. Now, I’ve been taking a look and I think it’s really cool. You do it, you do all your art in Sharpie pen is that correct?
AJ: Yes. Markers and all kinds of Sharpies, from fine tip to the chiseled tip. Not the real thin ones and not really pens. They’re more of a marker, kinda.
RJ: The first one, on this page, and you’ve got several examples here, and they’re kind of different and yet very similar because the medium you work in, the Sharpies, it’s very similar in that way, but a lot of what you present is images of popular culture, internet culture, those kinds of things, and so I want to go through a couple of these with you. Now this first one…is called “Catfish Minions Sheeple and Trolls”…I would like you to talk a little bit…and tell people what this piece was about.
AJ: Well as you and probably most of your listeners already know, a few months back there was the big, huge, Parker Molloy [versus] Andrea James, Calpernia [Addams] debacle thing that was going on, and for me being an artist and, you know, I wasn’t really pro-Parker or pro-Andrea or whatever, but as an observer, watching the back and forth and reading the tweets and reading the articles, and everything, I decided to… make a piece of art that was inspired by this whole back and forth, what was going on between both parties…
RJ: Ok and I know you said there’s an image, for example, of I think it’s the Chicago Bears?
AJ: Well yeah. To me, that represents Parker…no, it’s the Cubs, the Chicago Cubs, and she’s a Cubs fans and she has a bunny so there’s a bunny there… and the pirate girl is Andrea James with the patch, you know she has like some eye problems and stuff.
RJ: And I see there’s also a transgender flag in there.
AJ: Yeah…[because] the gay people and everyone would be saying like “It’s the trans agenda! The trans agenda!” so that why you got the whole illuminati-like seeing eye within the flag.
RJ: So did you have an opinion on that whole situation? What you witnessed that you were trying to covey with the art?
AJ: Well, it all started with the word…”trannies”…It’s all context. If someone says something in a hateful way then it’s hate. If it’s not said in a hateful way I don’t find it to be hateful. RJ: So what was your take on that?
AJ: It’s kind of complicated because you think like within a circle is a different opinion, but then as you think about people looking from outside the circle into the circle, so then you’re thinking like “So RuPaul’s show is probably pretty bad because there are going to be people there who don’t really know trans or they might, there’s chances that they don’t even have a gay friend, right? They’re watching this show on TV. So that paints a bad light, but I disagree with the whole approach of both parties. Shit Parker says, “I fucking hate RuPaul”, probably not, but then should Andrea James have even bothered with the hate piece coming back? No. And then if you want to get into the Capernia thing, with whole “Dallas Buyers [Club]” thing (Addams coached Jared Leto on the role of Rayon), then I have an opinion on that whole thing…I had no problem with Jared Leto playing that role, but I come from, I’m 39 so I remember when I used to go to the video store and look at the back of a box and the only thing in the whole entire thing that I knew about a movie was a little blurb on the back of a box. And I’d go home, pop it in the VCR, and I’d get lost in a movie and the characters of the movie. And that’s what became real to me, what I was seeing through the VCR. I didn’t have a little device in my hand where like three minutes in the movie, if I’m watching it at home, I could look up every single aspect of every single person involved in every single thing that anyone ever, ever, said about this movie. I didn’t have that, so when I watched “Dallas Buyer Club” I just looked at it as Rayon and the movie. I didn’t get involved in Jared Leto’s views or what he said or all this stuff…There’s people critiquing Jared Leto playing that role who’ve never even seen the movie.
RJ: I agree with you there. I personally waited until I was able to see the movie before opened my mouth about this, because…the truth is I’m predisposed to be skeptical of non-trans actors in trans roles, but I was willing to give it a shot…I found [Leto] not believable in the role. He seemed contrived, and I never [could muster] my suspension of disbelief…Never for a moment was I not aware, did I lose myself in the character of Rayon enough to forget that this was a man, a non-trans man, playing a trans character, and not a trans person being brought to life. It never crossed that boundary for me as a viewer.
AJ: I disagree. I’ve hung out in bars where there’s the same girl who’s on the corner, trans girl, who’s on the corner and she like wants to smoke pot with ya, and she’s the most friendly girl in the world if she knows a bunch of people, but then the car pulls up and she says “I gotta go” and she hops in. We go in, have a few drinks, see the drag show, go out later, like half an hour later, and there she is again, you know, on the street…So I actually know people who are sort of like Rayon, who are just sort of disaster tragic people like that. So I think that’s why I believed it a little more.
RJ: Fair enough. Let’s move on to another one of your pieces. The next one is called…”Papa Doughboy and the Twerkin Teddy”. Talk to us a little about this one.
AJ: That Teddy is actually the Teddy that was on the shirt of Mylie Cyrus when she…danced with…the “Growing Pains” father’s son, [Robin Thicke]…he was doing a song, the Video Music Awards came on, he was doing his son…and then she came out and had this big teddy bear on the stage and that was on her shirt, so…that’s a Mylie Cyrus reference, and then if you talk about modern art, I’d say the most famous artist right now would probably be that [Banksy]…He’s a street artist guy, and so that balloon girl is actually one of his creations that he put on the wall of Gaza, so I threw that in there. That one really doesn’t have that much more meaning to me in there other than just throwing pop culture things on there…like the Rolling Stones, the scream guy, different things like that…and then I made the Pillsbury Doughboy and I colored him the colors of Papa Smurf.
RJ: Yeah I saw that. And you’ve got Booberry on there, which no one who isn’t close to our age will ever…
AJ: Well, sometimes I’ll ask my friends, “Give me your favorite toy or favorite cereal, your favorite cartoon when you were a kid” and you see what they say, so one of my friends said Booberry. And then, one of my Twitter followers, Paul…that orangey thing at the top, that’s actually a toy from England. It’s like a bouncy toy, you sit…and you bounce up and down on it. I forget what it’s called, but yeah, that was one of his things. I just put that out on Twitter, like “What’s your favorite toy, cereal, candy?” and he sent that. I looked it up and said “Oh that’s pretty cool”.