‘Fingerspelling Lesson’ for Quaint Magazine

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Quaint Magazine is a quarterly literary magazine that publishes work by female-identified, genderqueer, and non-binary people.

The Quaint team explains why ‘quaint’:

c.1200, cointe, “cunning, ingenious; proud,” (…) Later in English, “elaborate, skillfully made” (c.1300); “strange and clever” (mid-14c.). Sense of “old-fashioned but charming” is first attested 1795 (…) In Chaucer’s usage there seems to be an overlap between the words “cunt” and “quaint” (possibly derived from the Latin for “known”). “Quaint” was probably pronounced in Middle English in much the same way as “cunt”. It is sometimes unclear whether the two words were thought of as distinct from one another.

After reading ‘About Quaint (partly quoted above), I knew Quaint would be the perfect fit for my latest artwork, ‘Fingerspelling Lesson’.

The raised fist is an iconographic and prominent feminist symbol; a powerful sign of resistance in the face of discrimination, violence, and silencing practices. I wanted to create an image reminiscent of the raised-fist salute given by feminist demonstrators at a rally. My artwork had to also convey the DIY ethos, intrinsic to feminist and queer efforts, and its countercultural aesthetics, which informs my own style. The design had to be bold and in your face: An image that would stand in stark contrast to and even subvert the high-gloss culture of today.

I decided to use the manual alphabet to spell out oppression in defiant visualization and in line with the tradition of reappropriation: Reclaiming the word ‘cunt’ individual letter by individual letter; eliminating the pejorative connotations in the word; making use of the word to empower rather than insult women. Allegedly the worst word in the English language, used as a slur against women, I (like numerous other proponents before me) see ‘cunt’ as not only acceptable but as a noun to be worn as a badge of honor. Feminism 101: Forget ‘the c-word’, embrace ‘cunt’!

My design also speaks of dissident dykehood: Fingers and fists (!) Yup, that’s a cheap and easy joke right there. But, hell, I couldn’t help myself. Humor aside, ‘fingers and fists’ are not stripped of political subtexts and historical relevance – as exemplified by the numerous academic and otherwise discourses that surround queer pleasures; discourses that arise from the flesh, its inherent cravings, and the oppression that follows. Along the same homo lines and to bear witness to the persecution that can ensue queer carnal desires, I also chose to include inverted black triangles.

‘Fingerspelling Lesson’ is the cover of Issue 3 of Quaint Magazine.

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