Dakota McCallister is an illustrator from San Antonio, Texas, whose work focuses heavily on the experience of queer women throughout their lifetimes. Dakota has been a part of SAY Sí for a year and a half, and became a mentor soon after joining SAY Sí. Due to her long history of being mentored by local artists, she wanted to become a mentor to pass down her knowledge and love of the San Antonio art scene. Her work is heavily inspired by art history (particularly the mannerist era), poetry, intersectional feminism, elements of nostalgia, and the modern landscape. She is involved in political activism, and when painting aims to give a voice to the queer narrative that is often silenced. Dakota plans to attend The University of Texas at Austin, double majoring to receive her BFA in Studio Art and her BA in Anthropology.
These three mixed-media illustrations attempt to discuss the queer woman’s experience as one develops relationships with others in the queer community. Following coming out, I began to meet other queer women and experience relationships I had never known existed before. It was all so exciting and new, but despite how euphoric all of these experiences were for me, I never saw anyone else talking about them. All I saw discussed was the suffering of my community. The aim of these pieces is not to discuss the pain of being a queer woman as much queer art does, but to discuss the joy I feel, and how exhilarating it was for me to discover all of these relationships. The illustrations are all multimedia, made of gouache, watercolor, and ink. Each piece is inspired by a different person(s) in a queer woman’s life. I first begin with one woman, “The protector” to discuss how newly out queer people develop a sort of maternal relationship with older queer people, who guide them and protect them through fighting their hardships following coming out. This figure is reminiscent of older queer activists in my life and history, who have supported my exploration of radical queer activism. Following this, I have “The Dancers,” in which two women are dancing, holding each other tenderly in a domestic scene. This piece (Inspired by an excerpt from Leslie Feinberg’s “The Stone Butch Blues”) is showing the joyous, light nature of how new it is to find this sort of tenderness in romantic relationships with other queer women. Finally, I have “The Kinship,” showing three queer women, simply existing in each other’s company. This piece illustrates the value of platonic relationships from other queer people I have had in my life. It is so thrilling to find someone who is like you and say to each other, “I see you.” There is an immeasurable value to feel seen and represented. Knowing other queer people, and developing all of these relationships is incredibly validating. I aim to display these relationships to validate other queer people’s experiences, as these people have done for me.