I want to forget that girl | An Interview with Seth Katz
If you could sum up your artist “mission statement” in one to three sentences what would it be?
My passion in the creative world lies in intersecting art, design, and the power of the written word. I want to create content and concepts at the point where these forms of communication cross-pollinate. This is my identity as a storyteller.
What makes you passionate to create?
Everyone is constantly creating, whether they refer to themselves as an artist, a writer, a doctor, a lawyer, or all or nothing. As we exist, we are all putting some level of content and experience into the world. We all just curate it differently. I draw my passion from sharing and raising queer and trans voices in the form of visual narrative. The transgender population is at critical mass as we are finding voices and names for identities suppressed for generations under the burden of shame and guilt. We connect in a way that spans time, platforms, and space through storytelling. Reading, seeing, hearing, and overall experiencing the stories of my fellow queer + trans peers has helped me feel connected and less alone even in my darkest times.
How has being a member of the LGBTQ community affected your involvement in the arts?
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Was I an artist before I was queer, or vice versa? Can those elements of my identity be separated from myself?
I was creating in the form of art, writing, and design long before I came out as transgender or queer. But I have always been transgender/queer, even before letting society (or even all aspects of myself) be fully aware of it. Which means all of the content and concepts I was creating were coming from the perspective of a queer/trans individual, even if that identity wasn't fully evolved yet. But as I grow in myself, in my identity, and in the queer community, I hone in on my voice, my passions, and the impact I aim to leave. My identity as a trans/queer person and my identity as an artist are so integral I'm not sure if they can be analyzed as separate parts of myself.
What drew you to submitting to our Suadade issue?
When you stumbled upon my publishing and art and I stumbled upon Curious Publishing, I was/am in a place in both my creative mindset and my identity where I am meditating a lot on the concept of nostalgia and what it means to have experienced the childhood and adolescence of a young woman yet the present and future of a man. A common statement in the transmasculine community is that trans men were never women. This has made me think a lot on my upbringing as someone who was socialized as a young woman: someone who was a girl scout, a daughter, a niece, the only girl on the team, etc. All the lessons I learned from the struggles I faced when I was still being seen as that young girl molded me into the person I am today.
Yes, in all honesty, there are many times that I want to forget that girl. It hurts me to think of her and to know that she is the only face that many remember of me, respect of me, want from me. So my feelings of nostalgia are nuanced. There are moments in the past that I treasure, like playing guitar with my father. Although I hate that in those moments, I was seen to the world as his daughter. I need to remember that if it wasn't for those moments, I wouldn't now be his son.
Why is nostalgia an important theme in your work?
When I explore nostalgia in my work, I am connecting with my past in a way that my subconscious often wants to suppress. Every time I create work or explore concepts about my relationship to my trans identity, it is inherently also about my past as a 'girl' merging with my present and future as a man. The emotions I work through in my art, writing, and design around my identity as a trans individual coexist with figuring out what it means to be nostalgic for a past I no longer embody. In every sense, that person is gone. I've heard that every seven to ten years, our cells turnover results in our body replacing almost every part of our physical selves. Therefore we are all, more or less, a completely separate and new individual than we were a decade ago. But when I look back that far, I cannot even say that girl's name. Like many other trans folks, due to my legal and medical transition, I've changed to a point where I'm unrecognizable in comparison to the person who existed in my place seven to ten years prior. My feelings towards the concept of nostalgia are deeply entwined with my identity and what it means, to me, to be transgender.
Tell us about your submissions to Curious Magazine:
I usually have to curate more consciously based on a theme for a publication such as this. But I've been doing so much mental and emotional labor around nostalgia and my own relationship to my past, that the work that I have been creating recently has naturally reflected such. The way that I chose what I shared was by making sure that each piece of work explored a different way of how I tell stories. I made sure I included work that explores:
+ poetry and how the written word evokes power and emotions,
+ abstract digital illustration,
+ analog glitch work that is experimental/nonlinear and will never appear the same as another piece of analog glitch work (just like the experience of gender and queering through the world),
+ and finally, mixed media collage work that does exactly what it sounds like: collages it all together.