We've partnered with the Jacksonville Public Library to bring you Art & Conversations, a series of free virtual library programs created in response to MOCA's exhibitions. On May 27, join us for Social Change 101, connected to MOCA's featured exhibition, Romancing the Mirror.
This month's Social Change 101 panel comes together to increase awareness of women and femmes' experiences with art and discusses how community members can make our city a safer place. It focuses on the many sides of femininity, objectification, and fetishization. The panelists represent academia, community activism, artists, and social services. Hear from Elena Øhlander, the local artist taking a stand against AAPI hate; Paige Mahogany, author of Lady Paradox and transgender activist; Lucy Maddox of the Women's Center of Jacksonville; Dr. Jennifer Wesely, a UNF professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice whose research has focused on marginalized populations of women; and Geexella, the beloved local non-binary DJ, singer, and rapper who founded Duval Folx, which are dance events intended to be safe spaces for LGBTQ and POC communities. They celebrated NYE with us in 2019 at MOCA as DJ, and we can testify to their skills in creating an open atmosphere on the dance floor.
We asked Geexella about themselves and the work they are currently doing in the community.
Q: So, Geexella, when did you discover your passion for community curation, or organization? Did it come to you before or after you established yourself as a music artist?
A: I feel I have always been doing community curation and organization ever since I was a kid. My mother always had us volunteering, cleaning, or supporting the community when I was a youth. She is always teaching me to fight for what's right and speak up when I notice folx on the margins not being serviced or cared for. In adulthood I discovered Girls Rock Jax, which is a week-long summer camp for girls, gender non-conforming and Trans youth. That is when I truly had a passion for using music as a tool for liberation and community. Girls Rock really gave me a political stance and taught me so much about myself, giving me language to express a lot of what I was experiencing as a Black, Queer femme living in the South.
Q: What are some projects you are currently working on? What are you focused on at the moment?
A: Currently I am working on my sophomore album “It's fine.” Brok from Friends of Friends Recording Studio is currently waiting on my Mastered Notes. I am in a space where I am feeling sensitive about the work I produced. Homies like Willie Evans Jr. and Rania Wood from LANNDS text me often “PUT THE RECORD OUT!” It's been a process, but I've been focused on being sensitive and patient with myself in this process. I am also focused on doing community work at the Jacksonville Community Action Committee. I am currently on the Comms and Campaign teams. It means a lot to me to be able to be a musician and movement worker. I believe in using my music as a tool to fight for liberation.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about the queer/trans/Black/POC-centered dance parties you put on through Duval Folx?
A: I curated Duval Folx in 2018, Jacksonville had a seemingly never-ending ellipsis after each name as the pandemic against Black trans life continued to rage on. The massacre at Pulse (in Orlando) had rocked our region, just two short years before. This moment charged me to want to create more than just a dance space in the South. I wanted to curate a brave and secure ecosystem for Black, POC, Trans, and GNC folx through dance music. I wanted to create an accessible dance space that centered the lives and experiences for Black, POC, Trans, and GNC folx.
Q: Out of curiosity, who would you invite to BE involved in Duval Folx? Is it a space for allies, as well?
A: I would invite anyone who believes in the Liberation of Black, Brown, Trans and Gender Expansive Folx to come to Duval Folx. Jacksonville has a deep history and current space of being racist, anti-Black, anti-Trans and anti-LGBTQ. We have so much to learn. so much harm to heal, and so much we need to just DO that affects BIPOCQT folx on the daily. This space welcomes allies but under the conditions that you won't cause further harm to BIPOCQT folx. The main reason I created this space was because of the experience I had as a GNC Black Femme DJ'ing and attending night life. It wasn't fun. I was too broke to party, and when I DJ'd at the "gay clubs" I was micromanaged. I was told that rap music could only be played during the "Urban Nights." The club owners would say and do so many micro-aggressive things that I couldn't process or handle it any longer. I am so thankful to my allies Jason at 1904 and Crystal Floyd at CoRK. They allowed me to curate and create a true brave space for Duval Folx and I am thankful for these owners seeing my vision and saying yes!
Q: What does your identity as a gender non-conforming femme mean to you? What does femininity mean to you?
A: For me, I feel my identity gives me power. It rejects the ideas of white supremacy and patriarchal standards. I strive to reject those ideals and use my identity to heal wounds from those systems that try to tell me I am too fat, too dark, not female enough, etc. I try to surround myself with images of people who inspire me to be me. I now have a network of comrades, friends, and a lover who supports my politics and positive reflections of who and what I want to be. Femininity means power to me as well. I think it is defined by the individual. I feel I am also still learning every day what femininity is and how it plays out in my life. I think, most importantly, it's what feels good for me.
To learn more about Geexella, visit their website here.
To register for Social Change 101, you can do so on the Public Library's website.Register Now
The event is free for library cardholders.
May 27 at 7 p.m. Live via Zoom