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Your body is not an anomaly

“These Temporary Homes,” a collection of paintings representing the beauty in queer and trans bodies done by local artist Blaire Sebren, is on display in the Make.Shift Art Space gallery

Close-up of “Tay” by Blaire Sebren on display in the Make.Shift Art Space gallery in Bellingham, Wash., on Jan. 19, 2023. // Photo taken by Tristyn MacDonald

Blaire Sebren, a local self-taught artist, currently has a collection called “These Temporary Homes” being shown at the Make.Shift Art Space gallery that will remain until Saturday, Jan. 28. 

Make.Shift Art Space is an all-ages music venue and art gallery. It has an art studio and practice music studio open to all.

“These Temporary Homes” is Sebren’s first solo art show. 

With this collection, Sebren wanted to capture moments of joy in the lives of the queer and trans people they know and love. 

The title “These Temporary Homes” represents the fluidity of everything in the universe and the idea that our bodies form these shapes for only a moment in time. Sebren captured some of these moments in their paintings.

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“Self Portrait #3” done by Blaire Sebren on display in the Make.Shift Art Space gallery in Bellingham, Wash., on Jan. 19, 2023. // Photo taken by Tristyn MacDonald

Make.Shift’s outreach director, Riley Currie, enjoyed watching people come to view the collection. 

“It was so fun when the show opened up and all the friends that were painted were here,” she said.

Sebren’s collection was made using reference photos sent to them by friends on Instagram. The photos were then cropped to create a sense of closeness with the subject.

“I like to zoom in to a unique perspective so you feel like you can really see the skin, and the way their skin moves and how the light moves around it. It creates an [intimate] feeling,” Sebren said.

Ezra Wagoner, a member of the queer and trans community, viewed the collection on Make.Shift’s website.

“Trans bodies don’t need to be represented in a PG way all the time. Because if you look at ancient history, there’s a lot of nudity and vulnerability," said Wagoner.

The inspiration for Sebren’s collection came when doing one of their self-portraits, which is shown in the gallery. 

“I think a lot of the time I don’t like perceiving myself, and I don’t know how other people are perceiving me. I think it’s been kind of a constant anxiety of mine since I was a little kid,” Sebren said. 

After painting that first self-portrait, Sebren found it refreshing to see themself in a more genuine light.

“That’s when I decided to do this collection because when I can paint other people and create that kind of empowerment for them, that can be really cool,” they said.

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Blaire Sebren’s "Self Portrait #1" and “Reis” on display in the Make.Shift Art Space gallery in Bellingham, Wash., on Jan. 19, 2023. // Photo taken by Tristyn MacDonald

Sebren believes everyone deserves to feel a sense of safety within themselves. For Wagoner, seeing more representation in art makes it easier to embrace his own body.

“It’s easy to feel different and outlandish when you have to check a box that says ‘other’ or when you’re having to explain to people your identity,” Wagoner said. 

Wagoner works at an elementary school, which provides him with the opportunity to teach kids to not be ashamed of their bodies from a young age. 

“I feel it’s important to be open and, especially working with kids, to let them know that it’s OK to be who you are, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “Past, present or future, just be yourself.”

Make.Shift values accessibility and being a creative outlet for all people. They invite anyone to come enjoy the space. 

“Accessibility is something that is really important to us that we try really hard to make a priority in all of our programs,” said Currie. “The slogan we use for things sometimes is, ‘Always all ages, always all experience levels.’” 

Additional pieces from this collection will be displayed in a group show with Allied Arts in November. “These Temporary Homes'' can be seen at Make.Shift Art Space until Saturday, Jan. 28.

Tristyn MacDonald

Tristyn (she/they) is a city life reporter for The Front. They are planning on majoring in visual journalism. This is her second-year at Western. In Tristyn’s free time, they enjoy thrift shopping, being outside, going to music festivals and hanging out with her roommate’s cats. 

You can reach them at 

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