Daze Jefferies is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and researcher from New World Island whose creative and scholarly practice explores transgender histories in Newfoundland and Labrador. Her research-creation (a mixed media assemblage of poetry, sound, theory, and visual art) has been exhibited and performed nationally – including last year’s collaborative exhibition, A Hole So Big It Became the Sky, created with Coco Guzmán and 2SLGBTQ+ community members at Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s. She is co-author of Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands (Palgrave Pivot 2018), and she has recent publications in Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies (2020), Riddle Fence: A Journal of Arts & Culture (2020), and Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice (2020). She loves oceans, archives, and dreaming about fishy futures.
My creative practice is shaped critically and emotionally by water as an archive of feeling. Following the work of artists and scholars like Astrida Neimanis, Dionne Brand, and Eva Hayward, who illustrate how oceans hold histories of gender and sexuality in boundless fishy waves, I think with water in order to creatively explore transgender histories in Atlantic Canada. These pieces are from my recent project, Wading for Whitbourne, which imagines mermaids as transgender ancestors in Newfoundland and Labrador. This playful body of work was influenced by colonist Richard Whitbourne’s encounter with mermaids in St. John’s Harbour on an expedition to Newfoundland in 1610. Misunderstood, physically assaulted, fetishized, and forced to disappear, mermaids are strange figures in the history of our province. Both disposable and desirable, their social worlds queerly mirror those of Newfoundland trans women who fight to live meaningful lives. Reimagining pains and pleasures of difference while the waters around us hold our histories in flux, Wading for Whitbourne honours mermaids as foremothers of resistance and survival for trans liberation on the East Coast.
Brief description of my creative process: This body of work began as a series of mixed media illustrations with lead, marker, and cosmetics on paper alongside cut-outs of circles, waves, and other watery objects from coloured cardstock. I proceeded to make copies of the illustrations and cut-outs with a flatbed scanner before assembling and manipulating them as digital collages using Photoshop CC.