Artist Interviews 2021
By Johnny Otto
Who or what is The Contaminator Crew? When and Why did it form? And is there a mission behind it?
Jes: The Contaminator Crew is a multi-media art squad of 5 female-identifying beings ( #1The Contaminator,
#5Delilah,) under the same vessel “Jes”.
The Contaminator is the leader of this ethereal crew and each artist has her own aesthetic and undeniable personality, which means they certainly don’t all get along.
These ladies each contain a piece of Jes and are dissected to reach out to more viewers while piecing back together the vessel (Jes) with each piece of raw work made.
Holding nothing back with 16 years of drawing and 28 years of dancing under their belts,the crew offers one of a kind avant-garde art experiences teaching emotion and compassion from a divine feminine light.
The Contaminator: As a messenger I am constantly downloading loads of information. After talking with a professional in Detroit at an open portfolio viewing about my style, he found the works to be so different in aesthetic side by side that they were unrecognizable and therefore unmarketable. When you collect an artist, you will be able to recognize their style immediately, with my raw works that was not the case. The problem was that all this information running me through me was genuine and I knew my art would be unauthentic if I stuck to one style.
So after my meeting in Detroit I drove 3 hours back to the W.W.O.O.F farm I was staying at in east Ohio to take a break from my Downtown Toledo studios, and immediately wrote a marketing plan to devise my team. I started creating "The Contaminator Crew" in 2016 (although I already know Nitris and Cotton Candy before then). One by one I found a badass feline team member that represented an exaggerated part of my soul and aesthetic until I felt whole with the 5 of us. To pull this type of art off, grounding and organizing is key. Like sisters, we may be rough with each other but when it comes to outside threats, you mess with one of us you mess with all of us.
All of my Crew members have a supernatural element to them. We are not only artists, but healers. Some of us do shadow work, some encourage others to just be their freak selves. No matter the exact message, if you can get over the fear of the raw delivery of the art and feel us with your heart you will understand that our messages are always good intentional and designed to help others. By creating a team, I can reach out to more souls. It's interesting to see on their personal instagrams that they are collecting their own "type" of following.
Also by spending time with each crew member, I am also getting closer to parts of myself I lost from many bouts of past trauma. I unawaringly have been in pieces and each new work created from The Crew brings me closer to my true form I lost along the way.
We are many but "we are one". That saying goes way back in my spiritual self, I wanted to bring that saying in a tangible way. Humans are individual fingerprints but at the same fractal-like beings interconnected despite different races,orientations,genders,beliefs. One thing we all have in common is the need for each other, oneness.
My crew is a reminder that we stem from many but are essentially one once the ego is destroyed.
Words matter, and in the last few years we've seen a sort of resurgence of the written word in art of all sorts. Your poetry accompanies your artwork, so how important is it that the words be read and not just the image be looked at?
As The Contaminator: The difficult things I really feel that the words build a bridge of empathy to the viewer that moves people on a soul level. Over the years, every once in a while I meet a person who gets angry at me for whatever reason for my need to include both forms together. I really dont think it's anyone's business to tell me how to create my art. I get that in this fast moving convenient world, that less is more for most. I understand when I print out sheets of paper and display them with my art that people may not want to read it. But by giving in I also feel that I am supporting this constant run that alot of us do in this society when we should really just slow the fuck down and breathe a little bit. The thing I love most about multimedia works is the multi-sensory aspect of it that hits different parts of the human psyche or chakra points. When I go out to eat, my inner libra wants to order 6 dishes and eat a bit a this, a bit a that .Being subjected to one thing has always felt confining. Others describe my energy as wind, and wind does best when it flows free. To contain that energy is to create a monster. It strips away the freedom. If I provide multiple ways of experiencing my art ,you don't have to indulge in everything I offer. But I do know like love languages we all have our own way of learning. Some of us like visuals, some of us text some of us like hands on. If I am feeling it just do it. My art is based mainly on intuition and empathy. I am thinking and less and less and feeling everything, My decisions are based on feelings rather than facts and ego.
It's tricky with the whole visual literacy "art is open to interpretation." I think those angry people felt like our egos were forcing one view of our work, but we don't care how you look at it. These ideas at times do start as thoughts and feelings and if you haven't experienced something similar you won't be able to understand it. I do have something to say and as a concept artist my statements soothe my throat chakra and ease my anxiety.
Perhaps I'll get to the point when I find my art speaks on it's own and I"m OK with that. I have been challenging myself in the last 6 months with the less is more concepts with some of my art entries this past year. Honestly I get it but I freaking hate it. I feel like a shaken up soda with a seltzer in it and noone will open the damn bottle.
Since early in my career,people have cried from reading my writing. Being a natural poet in my early teens before a visual artist, it's' important in my visual and performing arts to add some kind of words to touch people even deeper. There's a reason why when it was my turn to share my poetry to my 12th grade English class my teacher would yell "Fire and Ice!" It would be a shame to throw away that passion to please people.If it's our own personal projects let's just say we don't plan on taming the textual beast anytime soon.
How does Chaos help us as Artists to grow and be free?
As Jes: Have you ever heard of the tarot card "The Tower"? I shit you not in the last 4 years or so that card was pulled 3 or 4 times and extremely accurate. I fathom that fucking card after just facing mutiple towers, yet again another bout of chaos was coming. I was already so tired from the prior transformations. For those who don't know about tarot reading, "The Tower" is a very difficult card to be dealt but is extremely healing. The tower signifies your world or parts of your world are gonna crumble. You are going to have to fight, get extremely uncomfortable, people may die, jobs may be lost, but in return after that tower has crumbled new plants and life emerge. A more evolved you is formed.
After getting off the last of my 16 pills from a misdiagnosis, a powerful clairvoyant in Toledo Ohio (SIrena La Point) who helped me connect to my spiritual self during my aggressive spiritual awakening, informed me that I had a chaotic imprint. Because of this thing I would always need help from others in achieving my goals. As a defiant and fiery soul I would not agree to this prophecy. I no longer wanted to be dependent, I've had it! It wasn't until last June while working Live and meeting an East Indian healer that I was led to confirmation about repressed early childhood incestual abuse. That was the original trauma that caused the imprint and I was soon to learn that where I went so did that shadow tornado that would have me running over and over and fucking up everyones shit in the process. That thing had me fighting to get work, recurring patterns of men trying to take credit and power my lifes work, and my work getting ruined from the constant run to keep up with this thing. Luckily, what emerged is a very powerful and determined group of raw warrior artists. So much of my work was created during these insane "EVERYTHING IS CRASHING" deadlines and that is part of the reason for the raw styles and the rough condition of the work. I have been creating and surviving in very unstable temporary environments. I luckily surrendered the idea of being a neat veristic surrealist. I decided to accept my rawness in every form plus buying frames suck and I feel my art is a chicken confined in a steel cage. It feels much more true melting and ripping off the wall as sculptures. My art is emotion, fragile like the human spirit, easily torn. Over the years I found that to be incredicly beautiful because no matter how many scars I have, I still get up and fucking fight. And even if no one believes in my art and message, I do. At least I have that.
During the 15 years of misdiagnosis,and many bouts of trauma etc in my late 20s I was at home, enabled, and comfortable making OK art but my soul was screaming. After one of my best friends at the time lashed out at me I cried so hard. Not for myself, but for everyone I hurt with my misdiagnosis. I knew I needed to change. After receiving my years of medical files and some information at my most recent hospital stay I noticed something was wrong and dedicated the next 2 or more years getting my life back from adverse effects and pharmaceutical dependency. I knew if I didn't get off these pills I would be living at home as a dependent for the rest of my life, dating POS men, being a POS crybaby and not living my full potential as a dedicated artist. I needed to get my sanity back from these psych pills so I could be independent and fly. I am now mostly straight edge, and do not touch pharmaceuticals.
In the last 4 years it was crash burn after crash burn, escaping that BS tornado. To create this art I had to survive mutliple homelessnesses, losses on all levels, poverty, escaping toxic people including full blown sex cults, telepathic russian roomates in Weho standing over my bed at nightthat also cleans the floor with bleach at a minimum of 9 times a day, being so drained from that experience and randomly meeting a healer then vommitting all of that toxicness outside the healers car while spitting mudras then being taken to a healing faerie tree in the middle of nowhere and gaining about letting go of fear- that is a tiny ass fragemnt of the relentless exhausting crazy events in my life since I decided to let of my comfortable soul wrenching life in 2017 and go onward to build The Chaos Gate Project and launch The Contaminator Crew professionally.
Just thinking briefly about some of those things, I lose some breathing in my lungs. Not many could keep a clear head during that shitstorm, but it has taught me how to let go on the fly and to rebuild. It has taught me how to be independent and the strength I have had all along. That I don't need this sheltered lifestyle around me. That I am more than strong enough despite what the "doctors" said, to live the life I want, to create the grandiose arts I need to on my own. Unfortunately it took all that ridiculous shit for me to shed the Deliliah layers of my soul and to grow fully into the fearless leader so many people have tried to shoot down over the years. Channeling The Contaminato Crew's energy and using them and their unique skills like Nordic runes helps me to adapt to these intense situations I face head-on during this crazy art-valkyrie journey.
I honestly had way too much, and I found every excuse not to make my art when I needed my art the most. When shit hits the fan, and you lose everything despite how much your ego planned your life to avoid chaos, and your walking around with just a suitcase, some clothes, 2 pieces of paper and oil sticks there is a humbless you can never achieve until you know what it's like to almost lose what you love the most. I remember all these energetic blocks, I couldn't receive commission money, my passport was missing , the next head-to-toe planned-out 4 months of my life just got disintegrated , friends weren't reaching out all I had was words from a prophet I met in Detroit called Knowledge. He said when times are tough "Just make your art." I sat at McArthur park, I was hungry, I just got used, my resources drained by another women I was trying to help in a similiar situation, I was tired, I just ran out of the last of my money, so I surrendered crying and breathing into a tree. I then put on music from The Prodigy and I just made art. A man named Gustavo came out of nowhere with fresh pomegranate seeds, shared them and enjoyed my drawings. He had the day off due to injury and decided to come to the park. He offered me a place to stay without expectations or sexual shit because he was in the same situation when he got to America, and his grandmother taught him to give without expectations. From then on I could rest and the energy got better. Following my passion saved my life. Not money, not a famiy memeber my fucking art. That's powerful.
Chaos has been a relentless shadow in my life, but it has The Crew to go bigger, badder and harder. Now that I am grounded I am working on healing that chaotic imprint. When it has pushed me in the past I find now it is preventing me from reaching the next stage of my career and love potential. WIth or without the imprint I believe our art will always have a sense of that raw chaos due to the lack of fear we have of the unknown.
You state that Medusa is not a villain, as traditional thought. Why is it important to demystify some of these ancient female characters? How do you incorporate that into your art and performances?
If you read Medusa's full story you'd be surprised on how many women can relate to the tragic life she had. I myself felt heavily related with her traumas. She honestly couldn't catch a break for just existing. I don't remember how it happened exactly but when I got hired to draw LIVE at Living Prism Entertainment's annual "Ritual" show and the theme was "Snake Medicine" I just knew I had to portray her for the female energy. I then read her story and cried tears of empathy, I had no idea it was so dark. From being raped for her beauty, then cursed by her fellow female Athena due to jealousy when she didn't even want it, then just hanging in her snake lair and getting her head chopped off by Odysessus, there's an undeniable consistency with her story. Men feared her power. Men wanted her power. This is a woman despite her constant violation and decapitation who was endlessly powerful. She is an inspiration and an important reminder of how feared powerful women are, and instead of Athena sticking up for her she was tossed as trash. This is a lesson to embrace our inner Goddesses and not to give in to jealousy, envy or the brainwashed views of how women "should" be treated. We must not aim to be the most beautiful in the room. Aim to be the most beautiful you can be and support your fellow females being successful too, because we deal with enough from societal fear, why should we tear eachother down as well? We need each other more than ever, and are stronger in numbers. We need to teach compassion to men that give in to fear. Medusa is known as a "Dirty Goddess" in folklore which stands for forgotten or belittled Earth Goddesses according to book called "She runs with wolves". It's always important that with religion or folklore of any kind to take what we need from the symbolism to help us grow as people instead of reading these stories and believing word for word while fearing consequences. I truly believe the bible is an example of how men stained a religion and set forth an international stigma that lessons women's equality. Pushing that all the power of creation came from a single male source has inflated a lot of men's Egos over the years believing that they are the more powerful gender, when we both be fucked without each other.
In so many of these creation stories one man was celebrated but there was always 2. It is rumored that Eve was targeted to eat the fruit because she was more powerful then Adam the demon knew if they took down Eve, Adam would go down too. Also I believe that Lady Magdalene was the counter of Jesus. It's almost as a yin and yang has reincarnated to many different cultures but someone (besides the Earth religions) thought women were less then. I think it's important during the Earth's current rebirth that we re-read these stories, or expand our education on the matter. Yang Energy, Divine Feminine energy's main powers are love and compassion. And love is the most power emotion in existence because it can heal anything as long it's opposing emotion fear is conquered. Not only that but it also creates life. I feel there is a source that fears Yang energy, and it has gone out of it's way to quiet Mother Earth's power. Inutitive people/mystics have been talking about 2020 for years. They could feel the divine mother was going to act but didn't know what catastrophe was going to take place. We just knew shit was going to get stirred up, there was going to be growing pains and the new frequency was going to be love for all. A non judgemental love to heal the unity that has been lost by fear. I've noticed many artists including myself have been channeling a woman in blindfolds and chains. So many times I closed my eyes and could see her presence trapped in my mind. I believe that blindfold has fallen and those chains are breaking, empowering all the lesser thans into equality. 2020 was fucking rough, but unfortunately needed because I truly belive we are digging in that dark closet and coming out as one. I can already see a more compassionate side of human just by viewing interactions on the street and a need to do better after this year's tragic events.
The reason why combining live art with costume and performance is so powerful is because not only can I draw creatures but channel their energy into my body. During my Medusa performance in Portland as mentioned above, I used symbolism in colors to represent the different periods of her life. When I started the performance I wore a grecian looking gown I got in LA that was off white. That represented the purity and beauty of a woman before she was violated. As time went on I took of the dress and had a more sexy dark outfit with little snakes in my hair and snake contacts to represent the time after she was raped and cursed. Just like her story she stayed consistently powerful throughout the performance. Whether pure and beautiful. or cursed and torn. I was able to channel her energy into my body with interpretive dance while drawing raw with oil pastels. The crowd loved it and it felt good to be able to shed some light on different kinds of power and beauty.
Please know that I absolutely love men, and these words are not to change the power in gender but to enlighten those to learn compassion and the importance of equality. I know that there are a hell of a lot of compassionate loving and mature men that have stuck up for women over the years. Thank you for believing and recognizing the importance of our need for equality. When I say men I mean people who were men that gave into fear, not the ones like the story of Jesus who stood up for Miss Magdalene.
It is believed that fungi communicates with the surrounding forest and has a symbiotic relationship with trees. Do you feel that nature has many ways of communicating with us and not just through speech? I mean, we as Artists do not always communicate through speech, so why would the rest of nature?
I've noticed when I do a piece of art involving nature whether it's an animal or plant life, I have gotten some kind of reward in return symbolic to the part of nature I highlighted in the art.. It was almost as the species was saying "thank you". As a part of the Earth we rely on to live that is disginegrading day by day, I wish everyone could feel the relentless love the Earth gives to us that humans don't always return to one another.
I remember one Christmas I unsurprisingly went in over my head with (attempting to) make each of my family on my mom's side a custom paper mache mushroom with individual personified writing explaining the symbolism of each individuals' characteristics in the shroom. Some of my family didn't appreciated the time and effort that went into that and I was also hurt by another family member's actions. So I hopped in my car, ditched the family and headed to the woods to cry out my exhaustion and emotions. When I went into the woods I found a tree covered head to toe with white fungus, it was absolutely beautiful. I just sat across from it, breathing in its beauty. I felt that the tree was saying "thank you, for connecting people back to fungai. When I got back I told everyone about the tree and suggested they go with me to the woods to see it, and no one really cared. That message was for me only because I put the work in to build that bridge. Even if plants and nature communicate to us, not all of us can hear their language. So it's important that artists among other nature supporters continue to build the bridge to the ones that can't hear the trees until they can on their own. That connection with nature, that constantly gives us life is key to existence.
Animal totems from the Native American practices are also a heavy part of my life. I truly believe those energies are constantly there with those on Earth to help us survive, because we all know nature has been here long before we have. It is our teacher, and a good student not only listens to their teachers but practices what they preach.
What are you working on at the moment that you feel is urgent?
The Contaminator: Basically everything I do goes back to strengthen my art. Whether it's my diet to be able to stay healthy, to meet big deadlines, (My art practice is extremely physical) or not drinking to keep my energy and mind healthy to be a better creator. This is a rare time that I am making more room in my life whether it's abundance, love etc rather than jumping to project to project. I didn't realize until recently perhaps I wasn't able to connect to as many people as I wanted to because I was too tunnel-visioned in art. I have been creating non-stop since I got to the West Coast and was unaware of how unapproachable I was. There's more to life than just art, it has been my companion, my safety. I am getting to the age where I desire a partner that is not a bag of oil pastels or Cotton Candy's ass in my face all hours of the night.
I realized I have a lot of negative energy from others that has been weighing me down. Despite my skill, dedication, and innovation, I do not feel I am where I should be. Sometimes when that happens we are doing the wrong life path or we have a block. I know this is what I was born to do, so block it is.
Recently, I have been clearing nasty energy from gifted items and consuming-people in general. In a short amount of time, it has already opened up new opportunities. In the meantime I have been applying/submitting to galleries, grants,magazines anything I feel that will help me get to the next level of my career. I didn't do this last year because I was waiting for my website to get done. A Lot of the galleries at the level I want to be at won't take you seriously if you don't have a website. After a year of waiting for my web developer to finish, I finally got to the point of letting him go, I lost faith in his completion abilities. Now starting completely over and looking for a new developer, it's overwhelming especially with the cost of developing a website for 5 artists (The Crew) but I know it has to be done right even if it is expensive for people to understand. That aside, I wouldn't risk losing another year in showing because galleries plan for the year ahead. I decided to organize and simplify the best I could instead of comparing myself to more established artists by believing in my work.
I have shows planned for @thechaosgateproject, a solo show for Miss Cotton Candy, but no galleries lined up just yet. If that doesn't open up soon I have live guerilla productions planned because if anyone knows how my career started it was doing a semi illegal performance on a friends business wall during an art walk because if anyone hates waiting for permission it's me.
So I plan on continuing healing and applying until I hear a "yes", then it's go-time. I definitely think I am more than ready to have a manager and agent since my art is a hybrid of performance/entertainment and fine arts. Being my own manager, having help from someone with better contacts will take so much stress off the nonstop work it is to lead The Contaminator Crew.
Is there room in the Crew for more female Artists or how do you grow and expand the mission from here as you move forward?
Jes: One of the most difficult things about the ladies is that their personal stories move on without me. All the obstacles faced while on the journey just to do what I love has taken a toll on the timeline of The Crew member's lives. Plus it is extremely expensive.I am just beginning to gather the resources to appropriately share their stories on a professional level. I am having a hell of a time finding people that do what they say on a consistent and timely level,which has set us back on many projects dramatically over the years.
One plot option that hasn't been shared, is that Deliliah was perhaps going to be killed off. Since I didn't have the resources to make that fan style music video, Deliliah has grown to be a key member of the group.Since then, copyright laws have been getting super intense making this style of art increasingly difficult until I make stronger contacts.
There is a potential of a new 5th member with a faerie energy which means ones will have to go. Having more than 5 according to The Contaminator is an absolutely "No'. An even number makes no room for her to stand her classy feathered-ass in the center making sure the other crazies don't set each other on fire basically. Plus I am not really into splitting my soul into another section but I'd be lying if I said someone from the realm of shrooms with a weird twitch problem hasn't been buzzing around my subconscious this last year. Time will tell.......
If 5 aren't enough for you to handle I suggest following the @thesideegos on instagram. This is the early development of the passing characters that come in and out of The Contaminator Crew's life including Delilah's anthro space boyfriend (or bearfriend) Jilken who is rumored primarily by Nitris to have a giant dick.
Medusa was a woman who had enough pain in her life. She was a beautiful mortal punished for her beauty, framed for her innocence, valued for her power. She was constantly violated, no matter what form she took, where she hid off to, people could not stop violating her.
When you hear about those eyes, you see a monster, but I beg please research her real story. A Gorgan sister, a symbol of strength in the realm of Earth lore a true Dirty Goddess,
Yes Goddess, not a monster.
I highly recommend the book
'Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés' to educate your knowledge about Earthen Goddesses and to enlighten your spirit away from the misogyny that is so often misplaced in mythological/reigious texts.
This piece is made for anyone that no matter how you have tried to keep the peace, keep motivated you somehow can't escape becoming a victim of selfish individuals.
This is a symbol of your strength, of your light. The more light you have the more you are sought after.
So in the times you are hurting and all the painful memories of your trauma are flashing before your mind, do me a favor and remember your strength.
Keep pushing, don't let anyone take your power. There is a time you have to say "Enough is Enough."
Put your foot down, claim your power, claim your Goddess, your inner God, your ancestry to the stores, and tell the Multiverse with confidence "No More"
Transform as the snake. Shed your pain, claim your power.
Mantra: I will not stand to be used. I will not stand to be targeted. My light is my own and I do as I choose. I am not a monster due to the actions of others, I am love and I will love, I choose to love. Revenge is not the key, I choose to rise for I am one. We are one.
"Thorn (See no evil)"
28 in x 23 in
Professional Oil Pastels and Oil Stick
Canson Acid-Free Drawing Paper
Thorn represents stage 1 in a 3 stage process of opening one's heart. This is the stage where the ego self-pities, re-lives painful memories, and enables depression/lower frequencies to paralyze one's mind in an isolated depression. To get to the next stage "Bud", one must accept the need to change. That we are most times the problem and we must make healthy choices taking responsibility in our own involvement of being unhappy and lonely.