Arts & Events

‘Sister Spit’ tour brings diverse artists’ narratives to campus community

Juliana Delgado Lopera performing poetry in the Rendezvous Room on March 5 — Photo credit to Alec Dionne

Twenty-two years ago, the “Sister Spit” tour was conceived in order to showcase the artistic talents of people who aren’t straight white males. On Tuesday, March 5, the tour performed in the University’s Rendezvous Room, thanks to the Associated Students of the University of Puget Sound (ASUPS) Director of Student Interests, Qiara Millen ’21.

The lineup consisted of seven artists from a wide variety of backgrounds. Each artist presented selected work over the course of the two-hour event. They explored a range of mediums that were just as diverse as their backgrounds, from cartoons to poetry to tarot cards.

“It started in 1997 by Michelle Tea and Sini Anderson in San Francisco. They were really tired of having a bunch of dudes doing poetry readings so they were like f—-k this, we’re gonna do a girls-only one,” Juliana Delgado Lopera said at the beginning of the event. “It stopped in 2003 and then with the changing landscapes now it’s all inclusive of women, trans people and non-binary people. We started all over again in 2007,” she continued.

Lopera is a San Francisco-based artist who hails from Colombia. She is the current Creative Director of RADAR Productions, the non-profit based in San Francisco that organizes and promotes LGBTQ+ events like “Sister Spit.”

“It’s both Imani and myself, we both run RADAR Productions, the mother organization that puts together Sister Spit,” she said, referring to Imani Sims.

Sims and Lopera both read their raw, politically radical and personal poetry. In addition to being Lopera’s partner in crime at RADAR Productions, Sims is an author and the Curator of “Kitchen Sessions,” a series of shows similar to “Sister Spit” held at Seattle Art Museum, Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas, Bellevue Art Museum and Theater Off Jackson.

Each performance was unique and moving in its own way, and the topics addressed by each presentation ranged from childhood to intersectionality to feminism, with many of the artists confronting multiple themes in one work.

Lopera described the current aim of the event as two-tiered. “We are really retaking and reclaiming the road. Usually narratives on the road are written by white cis men like Jack Kerouac, so it’s definitely a way of reclaiming the space for us,” she said.

The second goal has to do with the audience. “We also bring this to very different places around the country so we are able to engage with other queer people everywhere else and bring the stories to other places,” Lopera said.

“Everybody is at different stages in their career and in their craft so putting us all together is definitely an experimentation on family. It’s both what’s happening with the family itself of the artists and the engagement with the audience itself,” she added.

This year’s performers included Lopera, Sims, Katherine Agard, Baruch Porras Hernandez, Cristy C. Road, Katie Fricas and Austin Hernandez.

Agard, a UC San Diego graduate who currently resides in San Francisco, is a Trinidad and Tobago native, artist and writer. She currently writes for Yes Femmes, Anmly and The Black Warrior Review. Her presentation featured a racially charged poem aided by milk imagery.

Baruch Porras Hernandez is a writer, stand-up comedian and two-time winner of Literary Death Match. Originally from Toluca, Mexico, Hernandez performed a gut-wrenching poetic account of his childhood, describing what it was like for him as a gay youth against a traditional Mexican backdrop.

Road performed a fiery and passionate reading of her hand-drawn tarot cards, “The Next World Tarot,” described on the Sister Spit Facebook page as “a traditionally illustrated Tarot depicting resilience and revolution.” A Cuban-American artist, writer and musician, Road’s tarot deck and readings contained strong themes of social justice for people of color, women and LGBTQ+ people.

New York cartoonist and library worker Katie Fricas presented a moving cartoon about the death of her grandmother with potent intersectional undertones.

The final artist, Hernandez, performed a spoken poem set to music. Hernandez is Mexican-American designer and writer raised in Texas but currently living in Brooklyn. His moving and eye-opening performance revealed his struggles with identity and isolation as a transgender, monolingual mestizo.

Further details about the artists and the tour can be found on the Sister Spit Facebook page.