Non-binary and trans, Detroit based artist Jonah Well has made a powerful statement on a Billboard in their hometown. They posted their message and art on Instagram with the simple message: Trans People Are Sacred.
The message sits on a billboard — Welch’s first installment — on East Seven Mile and Kempa Street in the Sherwood neighborhood, and was curated by Detroit artists Ellen Rutt, Playground Detroit, and Save Art Space, according to TheNeighborhoods.org.
Welch shared the installment on their Instagram page with the caption, “For somebody out there, this could be a rescue flare. All gratitude to my trans/two-spirit/and non-binary indigenous peers esp @infinitedakota for carrying this knowledge through colonization, and for sharing with me this phrase. When I first heard it, it lit my heart on fire.”
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A photo of Bill, my firstborn Billboard – curated by @ellenrutt @playdetroit & @saveartspace // For somebody out there, this could be a rescue flare. All gratitude to my trans/two-spirit/and non-binary indigenous peers esp @infinitedakota for carrying this knowledge through colonization, and for sharing with me this phrase. When I first heard it, it lit my heart on fire. TRANS PEOPLE ARE SACRED: E. 7 MILE & KEMPA ST. / DETROIT
Trans women are disproportionately affected by high rates of violence, and have an average life expectancy of 35 years. Yet, Detroit’s trans community remains a major contributor to the local art scene and beyond.TheNeighborhoods.org
The art on the billboard is simple yet stunning and indelible.
When Welch went to check out their new billboard in Detroit, someone drove by and yelled “what the fuck” at them.
“This is exactly why I made this billboard,” they told BuzzFeed News.
“I just hope people feel free and joyful when they see it, especially trans folks,” they said.
Welch created the piece after being chosen by an organization called Save Art Space, which reclaims public space for art.
Welch said their work delves into abstract surrealism and often goes to a place where trans identities and magic and mysticism meet. The billboard isn’t the first iteration of “trans is sacred,” but it’s definitely the largest.