Every week, I’ll be doing a mini feature on my site on activists, artists, and educators who are doing important things in the world. Like Levar Burton says, the only thing these folks have in common is that I like them, and I hope you do too.
Today’s crush is karina hagelin.
I first came across their work at a time when I desperately needed to see femme healing in the world. Their zines about caring for femmes, trauma solidarity, and queer ferocity are magnetic, empowering, and vital. They’ve tirelessly created spaces for those in the margins, centering the most vulnerable and disenfranchised among us. They see hard rocks. They see gems.
In their own words:
I think it’s important for there to be work created for survivors, by survivors.
As a scholar, my work explores how survivors of sexual violence resist, challenge, & complicate neoliberal recovery narratives through the use of digital and social medias to create their own counterpublics, ultimately redefining & reclaiming what it means to be a survivor, who gets to identify as such, & what “healing” can look like. Gossip can be a particularly powerful avenue to healing but also serves as a site of resistance and a protective tactic / survival strategy for marginalized communities when other avenues to share their experiences have been historically closed due to structural violence and power imbalances.
As an artist & zinester, my work is grounded in radical vulnerability, femme magic, & survivor solidarity. My most recent zine, FEMME FILTH #2, which debuted at Richmond Zine Fest 2017 this September, engages with protecting one’s magic & energy; interdependence & community care; tangible, concrete ways to support femmes; art, idols, & idolization as a form of dehumanization; & the challenges & complexities of healing from sexual violence. My two previous zines, FEMME FILTH #1 & HYSTERICAL FEMME, address living with borderline personality disorder & ptsd, practicing #radicalvulnerability, challenging rape culture & supporting survivors, creating self & community care resources, & celebrating queer femmes, as well as themes of recovery, healing, resilience, & survival.
I’m excited to announce I’ll be releasing FEMME FILTH #3 in January 2018. FEMME FILTH #3 touches on platonic intimacies, challenging the “cool queers club” / fighting exclusivity & scarcity mentalities in queer communities + spaces, moving from surviving to thriving by creating new intentions & practices, & imagining futures for myself as someone who has felt futureless / experienced chronic suicidality.
One of my favorite artists & Internet friends, Starchild Stela, creates feminist street art about radical cute culture. I have a print of one of their pieces above my workstation. It’s an illustration of three femmes with a banner reading “We support each other”. Survivor solidarity is incredibly important to me – & something I find myself desperately craving. This piece, available on their etsy (softmarket.etsy.com) keeps me centered & grounded in my work.
Where can we find your work?
instagram: @femmesupremacy & @femmehealingcollective
What’s your creative process like? Where do you create?
I used to think that I wasn’t a real artist anymore when I quit shooting dope, invested in my healing process, & became a lot healthier & more stable. I think that was my way of protecting myself from the risk of being vulnerable & authentic & genuine in my self-expression. When I made my first piece of art sober, I knew I had no excuses left & creating was something I had to do for myself.
I am telling this story because I know so many artists think they have to keep using substances, quit caring for themselves, & just like, creating unhealthy & sometimes dangerous situations to make art. I want to challenge that mythology & show folks that art can come from a place of healing, recovery, & self-care.
When I write, I do it in the little Facebook status box, then copy & paste it into a text document. It’s silly but it feels less intimidating than staring at a blank page. Then comes the cutting & pasting; I sit on my bedroom floor, put on music, & allow myself to be fully present with my process.
What work do you do in the world that you feel proud of?
About a year ago, I created a Facebook page, the Femme Healing Collective, which is a collective community space for queer femmes of all genders to reflect on & share their experiences with mental health issues, healing, & recovery. There was clearly a need for it – the page now has over 11,000+ followers on Facebook & several thousands on Instagram & tumblr, growing into a multi-platform social media presence. What makes me proud of it is the stories I hear from fellow femmes, like ” You help me go through my longest and most severe depression. You remind me to love myself, recharge and be patient with the healing process, no matter how long it takes. Thank you.” & ” the genuineness and positivity of fhc constantly reminds me to be mindful, grounded, and at peace with myself when my brain would rather i not be. this space really is healing and inspiring, and i deeply appreciate its existence.” I’ve experienced a lot of violence, abuse, harassment, even stalking, based on my openness about being a survivor & how it informs the work I do. But knowing my work helps other femmes & survivors like this makes the hate I receive feel insignificant in comparison. When I was raped, I was isolated & alone & in unbearable pain. I create this work because I never want any other femme, any other survivor, to feel that way.
Tell us a story.
When I was a small child, my mom found me coughing on hair. Apparently, I had been licking our rescue cat, Puddy, because I “wanted to help her”. So I’ve always been a helper & a cat lover.
And anything else you want to add?
1. I’m a current MLIS graduate student; I graduate in May!
2. My day job is in digital systems & stewardship – I do digitization of special collections at University of Maryland for accessibility & preservation.
karina hagelin is a high femme artist, scholar, and community organizer creating work about femme magic, survivor solidarity, and radical vulnerability. They are a passionate about healing justice, harm reduction, fatshion, and cats (they recently adopted their fourth). karina graduates from University of Maryland with a Masters degree in Library and Information science this May.
Additional note (July here!)– karina’s work is life and world-changing. If you’d like to help support them, send a little cash their way. They’re currently fundraising to attend Creating Change 2018 in DC next year, so that they might better serve queer and trans survival workers in their work. paypal.me/karinahagelin