With X-aMEN-ing Masculinities, Freewaves extends its multi-year engagement with themes of gender acceptance, diversity, and transition into the often-criticized but under-explored sphere of masculinity.

A NIGHT OF Visual, Video and PERFORMANCE ART at LA State Historic Park on October 6, 2022, 7:30-10:30pm

about masculinities with Cassils, Paul Donald, Alex Donis, rafa esparza, d. Sabela grimes, Asher Hartman, Sarah Johnson, Sean Milan, Phranc, José Guadalupe Sanchez, Austin Young, and MORE!

With Voguing, a BALL, drag kings and more!

Curated by Anne Bray, Marcus Kuiland-Nazario and Anuradha Vikram, the series will compare paradigms of masculinity including male bonding rituals, trans masculinity, masculine models of care, and uses of power.


Introducing a new chapter of our ongoing XaMENing Masculinities project! We’re excited to announce our collaboration with a group of talented artists who will be developing a series of illustrations graphically inspired by interactive print media (comic book strips, storyboards, coloring books, connect the dots, fill in the blanks, etc.) to explore the themes, scenes, and scenarios derived from the data of our live survey on masculinity.

Tapping into their inner child and drawing from their own experiential knowledge, these artists are imagining creative and playful ways to explore the themes and perspectives shared through anonymous responses to the questions, “Who taught you about masculinity? What did they teach you?”

Over the next few months, we will be sharing 3 illustrations from each artist weekly — embedded with interactive elements that prompt us to reflect on and challenge our own understandings of gender expression and embodiments of masculinity, more specifically.

Get to know the featured artist of the week below.
View all illustrators and click-to-download the printable illustrations here.


jie en is a taiwanese-american illustrator who loves to play with shapes and colors to create wonky, dreamy imagery.

Reading through all the different types of responses [from the X-aMEN-ing survey] was interesting and relatable. Though I could sadly relate to plenty of the experiences with toxic ideals of masculinity, I really enjoyed seeing all the less limited perspectives being taught to so many. I hope everyone who engages with these illustrations see them as something to put on the wall, and adjust based on mood (like if you’re in a workout mood, you swap to workout Arnold).

Cut out the monster, and the little heads, and you can put the heads in the empty spot on the monster, switching to whichever guy you like most!
Cut out the TV and the hole where the screen is. Then cut out the two screens, and you may switch between workout Arnold, and crying Arnold.
Cut out the camera and polaroid. Add a slit at the top of the camera mouth, and you can slide the photo through like it’s printing out!


Working with a racially, generationally, and gender diverse group of artists, X-aMENing Masculinities brought together works that consider and compare paradigms of masculinity including male bonding rituals, trans masculinity, masculine paradigms of care, and the uses of power. Artists whose lives and work challenge expectations of masculinity, such as those assigned male at birth who identify as nonbinary or femme, also participated. Together, we staged an interactive space where emotionally positive and socially constructive elements that we identify as “masculine” can be reclaimed from the “toxic” paradigm that both dominates and flattens public discourse. Masculinity, which is often though not exclusively represented by men, is the lingua franca of power in a patriarchal social structure. Artists, especially those who use performance, are adept at making power relations both apparent and absurd, a tactic that those who we invited to participate employed.

Why talk about masculinity when everyone else appears to have it far worse? Without a healthy, critical conversation, masculine-identified people can be made to feel like the conversation about gender parity and power-sharing doesn’t need to include them, because it isn’t about them. This reinforces the unequal power dynamics that already exist. On the other hand, while the options and opportunities available to women and gender nonconforming people are perpetually increasing, masculinity appears limited and stagnant in its scope. Many young people suggest that we might improve the future of our species and our planet by eliminating men altogether. What would we lose? What have we already lost, when we make masculinity the enemy instead of making male-identified people into allies?




In anticipation of our October event, we will offer conversations on IG Live throughout the summer of 2022 about masculinities with Buck Angel and Marval A. Rex rafa esparza and Laura Gutiérrez and others