Chelvanaya Gabriel (they/them) is a queer trans non-binary disabled multidisciplinary artivist and resilience facilitator. They currently work at Hampshire College as the sciences lab manager and graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Chemistry & Asian Studies. A prolific self-taught visual artist, they found an Audre Lorde-inspired form of self-care and healing-survival through painting after the 2016 election.
Current exhibitions have included a curated group show “Emergence: QT/BIPOC Aesthetic Abundance” at Pulp Holyoke and a solo show “The Emergent Imaginal” at 50 Arrow Gallery.
They create space within their work, and in community, where stories of wellness, trauma, disability, and neurodiversity, especially of QT/BIPOC folx, can be witnessed and collectively processed. Decolonizing contemplative practices and embodying ancestral knowledge are key elements of their work. With an afroqueerfuturist/disability justice lens, the inquiry “Whose stories aren’t being told here?” informs them as they seek new ways to hold space for all the complex stories that must be told.
Featured in the Boston Globe, their Creative Resilience Dialogues are art-based workshops exploring ideas about wellness, identity and resilience. With funding from Mass Development/Barr Foundation and Art Angels among others, this work is expanding into a BIPOC-centered artist mentorship project and community arts space (Creative Resilience Lab) in the City of Holyoke, merging liberatory art practice and relational community-building work.
Their public art projects include a full-sized portrait of Gloria Anzaldúa on Dwight Street in Holyoke (part of the El Corazon/Heart of Holyoke project) and a BIPOC youth mural collaboration along the Norwottuck Rail Trail Bike Path. And they performed twice in Diana Alvarez’ latest Quiero Volver: A Xingonx Opera staged at Creative Resilience Lab.
Image Description: a photo of myself wearing a red knit sweater. I'm facing forward with both hands on my hips, darkened glasses, a red and orange hand knit headband made by Sarah Steely, and a short curly afro. Behind me, out of focus, is part of a bare tree to the left of the image, blue sky and a nearby mountain range. At the top of the page above the photo is the category heading “Wellness” in caps followed by the article’s headline in bold text: "Artist creates a space for healing on Zoom: ‘You’re stepping into resilience just by showing up’ By Cate McQuaid Globe Correspondent, Updated April 9, 2021. 3:19 p.m.