Feature: Interdisciplinary Artist Zenebech Demissie
Zenebech Demissie (They/Them) is a queer Ethiopian first-generation interdisciplinary artist residing on Duwamish/Coast Salish land.
With creations that are heavily influenced by the exploration of queerness within the African diaspora and the erasure of Black trans identity both on the continent and around the world, Zenebech is passionate about, "Creating art that holds myself and other trans BIPOC through visual storytelling."
"Visual storytelling to me is visceral, more often than not our stories are appropriated, told by outsiders, and fed back to us at a cost. My work is my experience and one that I hope connects, holds, and heals those who need to see themselves outside of the white gaze."
Persephone by Zenebech Demissie
"This piece was the first one that made me believe I could pursue art as a form of work and lifetime healing.
"While looking for inspiration for an oil painting series I discovered from the book Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power that in greek mythology there was an Ethiopian god named Memnon who was known to be even more powerful than Achilles and was praised by the ancient Greek people.
"Over time, he became whitewashed in books, movies, and became a lesser-known aspect of their lore.
"This inspired me to create a series of well-known greek mythological figures in a way that I could see myself, my family, and my friends' beauty in. This is one of a four-piece series and represents Persephone, the goddess of agriculture."
Currently, Zenebech is really interested in character design and comic creating, textile arts, printmaking, and book making.
Euphoria by Zenebech Demissie - made with printing block and black ink on toned paper
"As an interdisciplinary artist I find it hard to settle in one medium for too long. I use many of these mediums to tell my experience as a Black trans person, or to tell stories that have queerness unquestioned."
"I may create single paintings or pieces that reflect the harshness of my experiences but I don't create longer visual stories and comics that involve characters experiencing pain or conflict due to their identity.
Self-portrait by Zenebech Demissie
"When I am world-building for something outside of myself, I want to envision a safe space and I hope [that gives] readers a [comforting] story in something they can relate to."
Zenebech's upcoming projects include a short queer comic that they are excited to share soon with their community. Otherwise, you can find more of their work at citrinezeni.com and follow them on Instagram (@citrinezeni)!
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