On interlacing form, drag, sex-work,
queer/crip-ness and genre cinema

Violet Drake X Shantha Roberts

Violet Drake, From Water in Ecdysis: welcome, 2021


I feel you put the multi in multi-disciplinary, how do you decide when and how to expand your practice?


I started writing poetry when I was 13 years old, and around the same time I got into multimedia digital art using images I found online in Photoshop. I was born and raised in a small coastal community on the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland called Lawn. I am from the last generation of my hometown where we didn't have high-speed internet until my later teen years. I am also from a generation where I was the only out queer or transgender person in my school. I was very much a social outcast. I didn't participate in public life or social life outside my own small group of friends who were also a bunch of social rejects. As like most rural queer creatives, we find our community and passions through whatever we have.

As like most rural queer creatives, we find our community and passions through whatever we have.

In my case, being a millennial, it was the internet. Later on in my early adulthood I began an small photography practice to use in my digital art practice. Throughout my first ArtsNL project and this recent residency at Eastern Edge gallery, as part of their Art as a Tool for Change project, I was able to expand my professional visual arts practice once more by foraying into hand painted illustration. As I've aged and matured, I've become more confident at trying new forms and ambitious in my artistic dreams. I'm always thinking ‘what can I do next that I haven't done before?’


You mentioned Leelah Alcorn in one of your poems, and I remember thinking how her story blew up because of Tumblr, but pre-Internet access you probably wouldn’t have known.


That’s true. I mentioned her in my early poetry because she was one of the highest profile cases of transgender youth explicitly declaring their own trauma and agency, whose story I could find myself in. Prior to my university education, I learned everything I knew about trans and queer theory, realities, and history because of Tumblr. In retrospect, it's been quite a significant amount of time since I wrote that poem. A lot of young queers today may not know who she is. I hope many do. Her story and legacy is important for us to remember, so referencing her was some sort of attempt of mine at keeping her in greater public consciousness.