I’m a little bit in love with Bort, a street and studio artist from Austin, Texas. Bort’s work is funny, tragic, engaging, desperate, political and human. She spans spraypaint, posters and legal street art, drawings, photo transfer, prints, wood and canvas in the studio. Her themes are consistent, and because of that, are amplified in their message. I especially like the Vote Bort campaign. Here she is in her own words…
“My street work focuses on my imaginary friend, also named Bort, and the attempt to make Bort others’ imaginary friend as well. Bort has helped me feel less alone. Bort’s been there for me through so many bad days, and has helped me grapple with my past and present problems with mental illness and self destructive behaviour. Without Bort I don’t know if I would have made it through. Bort’s my closest friend.
My studio work focuses on me wanting to die, and the various means to achieve said goal. In the marginalised area between me being a transwoman and my art focusing on my experiences with mental illness, anorexia, and addiction, past and present, I can’t find a place that is interested in with working me. On occasion I can find some group shows, when I’m selling myself as a street artist, but that’s just due to the novelty of that work I guess.
When I started doing studio work a few months after starting the street work, I found art to be extremely helpful with working through, understanding, and coping with my experiences. I had never spent extensive time trying to understand my past, I had actively been trying to avoid it, but this work has helped me shine a light on it and begin to move on.
I don’t think I’ll ever be out of this stuff, I’ll have lapses, possibly relapses, I’ll have depressive episodes, I’ll have long lasting dissociative states, but I’ve begun learning how to address them. I have people I can ask for help and I’m starting to recognise my own behaviours.
The studio work has helped me a lot with all this, so I hope it can help others. There’s often a lack of representation with regards to mental illness, addiction, anorexia, and what little representation there is, is often romanticising issues, problematic or is not visually accessible.
I try to keep my work clear cut, often just a blunt focus either attempting to present an emotional state or a behaviour. I want it to be easily relatable to those with similar experiences.
I have work available in a wide price range, in my online shop. I make sure to have pieces that are monetarily accessible (or accessible as possible, since art is a luxury good). If you’re interested in work, you can email me the price range you have, and I’ll let you know what I’ve got, or if interested in a piece in particular just lemme know and I’ll give you the details. <3"
Bort’s website can be found at www.bortart.com. There’s also a good interview to check out, over at Why We Love Austin.