Say hello to deadname.arts, Philadelphia’s new, exclusively non-cis artists' organization. The brainchild of founder and president Osimiri Sprowal, deadname has been brought to life by Sprowal with founding board members Ronnie, Ari, katbug, Anna Haag, and Tough Gossamer, as well as an additional member whose identity is masked for safety. For Sprowal, deadname is a home: a place of safety, a place for family, and a place for members to be themselves as trans and nonbinary individuals in an art scene that all too often fails to live up to the hype of inclusion and acceptance.
Safety and closeness
“Transphobia in the art scene is violent… If we are in a space, it might not be safe to be there, or to be all the way out there,” Sprowal explains. “There’s a closeness in not having to explain myself... It felt paramount to build a place to really foster and hold that intimacy for trans and queer artists. I want other artists to find a home in their art and in their community that I feel like we haven’t been able to have before.”
Indeed, deadname fills a much-needed space not only in the arts scene but in the queer community as well, which still struggles with intersectionality. In Utero celebrates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (started by trans women of color and one of the most significant landmarks of queer American history) through poetry and music, while also centering trans and nonbinary voices as essential to this narrative and its legacy.
As deadname’s first event, In Utero will serve as an introduction of the artists to the community; “a showcase focused on highlighting trans excellence, the spectrum of transness, trans art, and trans stories; of the way that we use art to create ourselves.” When pressed for more details on how the event relates to Stonewall, Sprowal reveals few secrets. “We have a lot of surprises planned, but the only thing I will say is: Look out for bricks.”
deadname.arts’ show In Utero takes place on Monday, June 24, 2019, from 6:30 to 7:30pm at the Philadelphia Free Library Independence Branch, 18 South 7th Street. The event is free of charge, wheelchair accessible, and inverse-printed text of the spoken works will be available.