Art At The Kent Library
Charlotte Tramontana (b. 1990, they/them) is a speculative fiction novelist who likes to doodle what they’re writing about. This exhibit is a showcase of their artwork since 2020 revolving around the Undine Isles series they have been writing and developing since 2008. An earlier exhibit of their work took place at the Kent Public Library in December 2019, after which “Guided Doodles” became a regular program here, and continued online during quarantine for over a year.
Charlotte has worked at the Kent Public Library since 2016, and was program coordinator from 2018-2022. Though they work full time in Poughkeepsie these days, they still frequently visit and occasionally pitch in at KPL because this is where their people are. Charlotte holds a BA in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies from SUNY New Paltz. In 2021, they also began work on a separate project with fellow KPL staff member Theresa Paras, a fantasy series for middle grade readers, and they are very excited and hopeful to share stories and doodles of another world with the KPL community in the future.
Artist Statement | Charlotte Tramontana
I have wanted to be a writer of stories since before I could actually write anything, so the things I draw are people and objects that appear in my two writing projects, the older of which is the Undine Isles series (the world of the gay mermaids).
I accidentally started writing what would become The Undine Isles at the age of 17 and have not been able to walk away from it since (despite repeated attempts to walk away because I am acutely aware that the whole concept is completely bonkers). But as a lesbian, I grew up used to the way that any character who was like me would eventually get punished for it, often with deadly force. All who participate in global pop culture still live under the effects of a historic precedent called the Hays Code, a rule of the motion picture business dating back to the 1930s that calls for all fictional universes to punish their queer-coded characters so that real-life LGBTQ people wouldn’t start getting ideas.
When I wrote the first lines of what would become The Undine Isles in October 2008—the inciting incident in which my disoriented protagonist washes up on the tropical shores of Locust Island, only to learn that she’s a mythological creature now—I didn’t know that I was doing anything more than telling my teenage self a story, as I had done a thousand times before as far back as I can remember. I definitely didn’t know that I was attempting something for which I had never even seen a blueprint. I just did it to feel good.
I draw for much the same reason: because it is a source of joy to physically see some trace of the places and people that exist only in my imagination. I don’t draw—and will probably never do so—because I think that I am very good at it. I believe wholeheartedly in the Queer Art of Failure, a concept proposed by gender theorist Jack Halberstam in his book by the same name. I believe that performing this Art (because as the great feminist theorist bell hooks stated, queerness is “about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live”)—showcasing imperfection while focusing solely upon the joy of it all—is a radical act.
A challenge to everyone who reads this statement: give yourself permission to create or express one thing without falling victim to fears that you’re not good enough, because that’s not what art is about, and it’s not what being alive is about. You can do it.