As part of Third Woman Press’s revitalization last year, we enlisted the talent of Cuban-American artist, Cristy C. Road for our Audre Lorde-inspired poster. Learn more about her punk rock roots and how she’s fused them with her art and feminism.
Third Woman Press Collective (TWPC): What is your geographic location?
Cristy C. Road (CR): Brooklyn, NY
TWPC: Tell us about the organization you are part of (for those who are affiliated with a specific collective/group) and/or what keeps you busy.
CR: I’m an artist and I make visual art, writing autobiographical stories and song lyrics, and play music. I mostly illustrate my own zines and graphic novels that self-published. I also have been illustrating in and for the punk and activist communities for over 10 years. Some of these projects have included Incite National, Women and Children First Books, Girls Rock Camp, and Third Woman Press (!); as well as tons of art for bands, zines, books, and event posters. Right now I’m pretty busy with my pop-punk band, The Homewreckers (I’m a Gemini), but even that involves my art in the album cover/inserts, our flyers, and my writing (since I write all the songs). So I tend to see my art as this package that is constantly in flux. Aside from that, I’m working on a Tarot Card Deck with author Michelle Tea.
TWPC: How did you get into creating art?
CR: I’ve been making art since as long as I can remember. I got into drawing my favorite TV shows (particularly Ren and Stimpy), as well as random weird creatures. I would spend hours making up alien universes featuring giant lizards and dinosaurs. My earliest memories involve drawings of dolphins and bats and the Muppets; as well as drawings of women with GIANT eyelashes. Eventually I got into more refined projects such as fan-fiction (hehehe). My sister and I basically invented a television station that featured all these random actors like Jerry Orbach, Raul Julia, and a few Disney cartoon characters here and there (I know, what?). I eventually became a pre-teen, realized I was in the closet, and started exploring my own needs for self-expression, which led me to punk rock. I discovered zines through the subculture and started writing a zine when I was 15. The rest of my life has steadily snowballed–but hasn’t strayed much–from there. Of course my intentions and the communities I work with have expanded, as my message isn’t specific to punk anymore.
TWPC: What is your favorite medium or material that you like to work with?
CR: I make my illustrations with Micron Pens. I color with an array of random tools: AD Marker for the base of most of my drawings, then other random brands for shadows and accents; acrylic paint for backgrounds, and gel pens, paint markers, and white out pens for depth. Those tools end up being my favorite because they really bring everything to life.
TWPC: What is your favorite piece that you have created? (if you have a favorite piece)
CR: I guess my favorite piece is always my most recent one, or one that I’ve forgotten about, and I’ll find it in my stash and hang it up on my wall. This week, my favorite (which I uncovered after it had been on a shelf for a long time) is the 10 OF SWORDS painting, where I drew myself during one of the hardest times of my life. It’s about knowing that there is a new beginning on the verge, but being so exhausted from suffering and/or proving to others that you have suffered. I guess PATHETIC: The Musical, is always a favorite painting, because it’s about getting over heartbreak and moving on (whether or not I’m still angry).
TWPC: What influenced your decision to help fundraise for Third Woman Press?
CR: TWP reached out to me for creating a poster for the revitalization project, and I was totally stoked to contribute my art.
TWPC: In what ways do you think art can help feminism and vice versa?
CR: I think feminism (i.e., ending patriarchal rule) has always been an underlying theme in most of the art that I create as well as the art that has impacted my life. I think that a lot of ideas about injustices like racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia (filtered through a feminist lens) don’t make it out into the mainstream world enough. Art that’s made accessible to the public and ideas that are illustrated through some universal (yet totally angry and straightforward) way can really change society; whereas conceptual work can really change the art/media world, and expand from there. And I think of art in every respect–visual art like Frida Kahlo and performers like Lil Kim, you know? I love seeing the way feminist work and ideas have become more accessible.
TWPC: What advice would you give to emerging feminist artists?
CR: Just be real don’t worry about exposing your truest vulnerability until you’re ready. And if it scares anyone, then they can run or hide but you shouldn’t stop for them. Also, forgive yourself for the things you were unfairly persecuted for. I spent such a long time condemning myself for my promiscuity and my queerness because of both sexism in the punk scene and growing up Catholic, and a lot of this self-persecution regretfully leaked through the early issues of my zine. It took a lot of strength “to forgive myself,” but really I learned to be proud of myself and my sexuality. I looked for that strength in my community of feminists [who I could trust] and eventually found it.
TWPC: Since you helped TWP, what is one thing you are excited about its revitalization or what would you like to see TWP do?
CR: I’m excited to see what happens next! TWP has released some of the most important books (This Bridge Called My Back and Chicana Lesbians, to name two), and the world has gone through a lot since the Press closed its doors. I’m especially excited to see new work by queer people of color that reflects the revolutions happening today.
Rock on! Check out more of Cristy’s multimedia work at croadcore.org and listen to her queer core, pop punk band, The Homewreckers at the-homewreckers.com.