“Black trans people need love and support and resources, and that’s what the project is going to bring,” she said. Kerman, a Bay Area resident, is the author of Orange is the New Black — the book the hit Netflix series is based on, chronicling her own experience with incarceration.
Kerman stated that her Black trans neighbor was an important part of her life while she was in prison. LaverneCox portrays this character in Netflix’s series.
Kerman stated that she has a Pansy aunt and one of her great-grandmothers was named Pansy.
Csillagi is the co-owner Diving Swallow Tattoo in downtown Oakland, explained that the word “pansy” used to be a derogatory term and that the choice of this flower is also a nod to the work of another artist, Paul Harfleet, who began planting pansies at the sites of homophobic incidents he experienced in Manchester in the U.K. “The species of plant was of course vitally important and the pansy instantly seemed perfect,” Harfleet wrote, explaining the project on his website. “The name of the flower originates from the French verb; penser (to think), as the bowing head of the flower was seen to visually echo a person in deep thought,” he added.
Csillagi believes that care and thought in action are the main purpose of the A Thousand Pansies Project. It is a way for them to link their politics with something larger. The custom-designed tattoo is part of a vision to spread a physical symbol of “love, alliance, and protection.”
Csillagi is a South-born person who has experienced the impacts of homophobia. They see it as a solidification of the importance to create a shared symbol in the Bay Area, and elsewhere.
“I just started to feel like I needed to do something, anything to help,” Csillagi said.
“Being a tattoo artist is [an] It is a beautiful profession but also very individual. It’s like one person going through grief or a transition. I wanted to open up my job and my skills to be more community minded.”
Csillagi, a highly-sought after tattoo artist, has been booked until 2024. But they will create a weekly time slot to allow those who want to get inked by a pansy. Csillagi and their partner are sharing the design to allow other tattoo artists to participate.
“I feel more and more connected to the image every time I do it,” Csillagi said. “It’s so beautiful to just keep doing it. It’s like I’m reiterating on my own ideals and my own politics around this.”
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