Like most people, I’ve been reflecting back upon the year and analyzing it as a whole unit, breaking down the challenges, highlights, and oddities. It has been a surreal year, to put it mildly. I wanted to incorporate other voices in this first piece of the new year by asking other writers, artists, curators, “What were they thinking about?” I stole this idea from Gary Indiana’s article, “1988: Some thoughts from 15 Artists,” in the Village Voice. It seemed to be a small insight into the zeitgeist of the time. I particularly loved Dennis Cooper’s contribution:

“I’m thinking about how to fit back into New York after two and a half years in Amsterdam. I seem to be at an age where my friends and I are starting to either make it or not make it as artists, which is pretty exciting because all the hope involved with that coincides with a new determination to live. At the same time, I’m thinking how it’s important not to be afraid to take extreme measures, because that’s what it takes to accomplish great things politically, artwise, and in life.”

So, here are eight thoughts on 2021 from various people working in Indianapolis:

Sylvia Thomas

I thought about preciousness and the revolutionary ways we can be gentle. This summer, I performed at the Garfield Park Art & Music Festival. Afterward, a child approached me and defiantly yelled at me, “You’re not a woman, you’re a man!” I could have yelled back at the youth, disregarded his remarks, or resulted in name-calling. Instead, I lowered myself to his level, looked into his eyes, took his heavy words he threw at me, and gently told him, “What you said hurts me and makes me want to die.” He started crying and apologized. I thanked him for his apology and told him to have a good day.

Malina Simone

In 2021 I was implementing. It’s like I had this reserve of plans in a jar labeled “ideas for a better society” and I just started pulling those suckers out. I was thinking about progress. About leveraging the moment. Leveraging the attention on race. I was thinking ooh I finally have a shot. “Open the jar! Open the jar!”

Nick May

I think back to the opening of my solo show at Big Car Collective's The Tube Factory. My dear friend Jo (who was in two of my paintings) just finished looking at my show. They laughed and had tears in their eyes. They told me how beautiful my paintings were and what a beautiful homage it was to our group of friends. In that moment I really felt like I had achieved something wonderful with my work. I felt quite honored. I hope to take this sentiment into the new year and expand what it means to create art in the present.

Machaila Gray

I found myself thinking a lot about how to adjust to post-grad life. It dawned upon me that although I wouldn’t have to worry about academics, I still had to learn how to be an artist while also balancing being an adult in the middle of an ongoing pandemic.

I’ve had a few setbacks so far but, in 2022 I’m hoping to solidify a place for myself within the art world.

Phil Campbell

I’ve been thinking about keeping my family safe, how horrible divisive our country is, how facts don’t mean anything anymore. What the fuck are the next ten years going to look like? We’re in chaos. How is everything that’s happening going to affect our most vulnerable communities? It feels like we are all on our own. We can’t trust anyone so it seems we are all on our own. I am insanely grateful for the life I have and I do have a lot of hope.

Ozzy Graham

This year I was thinking about the cyclical whiplash of history, using local LGBTQ history as my lens. I examined digitized artifacts of Indy’s gay and lesbian communities and spoke with queer locals from both older and younger generations. These stories enabled me to accurately examine what’s going on today and what’s coming ahead.

Astro Carter

I feel like time has been moving faster so I’ve been thinking about death more often. It’s the one truth I can always count on staying consistent. I’m going to die one day and I hope I can accomplish more than a salary. I hope my hours of life are worth more than $15 an hour. I’ve gradually dedicated myself to a disciplined tattoo practice that has given me a sense of purpose because it keeps me grounded in the fact that it is so important to the other person and prioritizing their body. I genuinely care about others and I feel like tattooing is a vulnerable, intimate experience, which has brought me closer to others and myself. I’ve also been thinking how everything is made up. There’s a lot of rules that covid has exposed like people don’t need to make more than minimum wage to live, which is obviously not true. All these things that capitalism has raised us on is just not true. Nothing is so black and white. So, I’m tired of us as a collective society being held back from imagining a new world.

Luke Miles

I had a lot of experiences this year that led to some great insight. I found myself thinking about so much in 2021. Here are a few highlights: 1. What’s it going to take to bring Club Plex & Grapevine to the next level and make it an even more potent experience, while still maintaining the authenticity, fun & reliability they are known for. 2. How covid affects the curation of a music/dance experience-based event/community towards real growth less and less attractive in the long-term. 3. how much government control, modern media, and hive mind am I comfortable living with and what do I need to do to limit the impact/influence of them on my life and those close to me in the near future. 4. My past and present relations with the woman in my life 5. How lit it is that there’s an actual minicomputer in my pocket and all of the knowledge & tools it allows for such convenient access. 6. The endless and fascinating battle of spirit versus flesh and the esoteric and exoteric ways of interpreting the world around us. 7. How do I further optimize my health and what new habits can I develop to strengthen my everyday vitality and immune system. 8. How grateful I am for the people & experiences that have created who I am today and fuel me forward.

Cover Photo by Taylor Lewandowski of Nick May's "Fag Family" at the Tube Factory.

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