Trinity’s Holy Trinities: Wild Summer Edition
Reviews are hard for me to write, in that there are a million things I want to gush over and convince people to read, but only a few hundred words to do so. If you were to ask anyone who knows me, they’d say that I’m the one you go to for recommendations for any type of art. They’d also warn you not to ask when you’re in a rush because I can talk about movies, tv shows, music, and books for hours on end. So instead of writing an entire dissertation on the art I’m obsessed with, allow me to present to you my Holy Trinities (get it?) of music, art and literature in quick snippets.
I haven’t been able to spend as much time in coffee shops as I did pre-pandemic. I swear I spent more time in cafes than I did in my own home. But when I first heard Sarah Kang’s music, I was transported right back to my favorite corner booth with a mocha latte and my journal ready to be covered in illegible notes. Kang is a Korean American singer who blurs the lines between genres with her lofi-like beats, soul-influenced voice, and descriptive lyrics. This is heard in a favorite song of mine, “Cozy”: “The sky turns gray / Against a fiery display / Of red and gold hues / Like the day I met you.” Kang’s music makes me visualize the sky and the changing seasons and feel the love she’s feeling. Her music is like a warm embrace.
Top Three: One, Cozy, A Thousand Eyes
A bad habit of mine is listening to the same five songs repeatedly, so last summer, I decided to mix things up and listen to a radio Spotify suggested to me. That was one of the best decisions I ever made because Erez Zobary’s “Love Me” just happened to play. Erez Zobary is a Toronto-based artist whose music is a mixture of pop and R&B. I literally stopped what I was doing because her voice was so soulful and powerful and drew me into every word she was singing. Her soulful voice and style remind me a bit of Amy Winehouse but remains uniquely her own. Her songs are so versatile and are equally perfect for my dance parties and when I need to wail the lyrics of a song.
Top Three: Before I Knew You, Love Me, Banks of the River
BOYTOY is an all-woman rock n’ roll band made up of Saara Untracht-Oakner, Glenn Van Dyke, and Chase Noelle. I first came across their song “Mary Anne” when featured in The Babysitter’s Club, when the four babysitters are praising the character Mary Anne for her bravery. In her honor, they made a playlist dedicated to her and the first guitar riffs of BOYTOY”s “Mary Anne” starts playing. The wavy rock vibe of the song, the guitar solo, and the lyrics (Mary Anne, Mary Anne, Mary Anne, Mary Anne / You know you got me feeling cool / Summer dew, I wake with you / Mary Anne, Mary Anne) had me convinced that this song was released decades ago. I was shocked when I discovered the song had only been released three years ago on BOYTOY’s album NIGHT LEAF. Even now, as I listen to their music, knowing it’s from current times, they’re still able to transport me back in time.
Top Three: Mary Anne, Juarez, Static Age
Rachel Yumi Chung is a freelance artist who creates paintings, prints, stickers, and more that feature her colorful art of nature and women. On her website, she describes that she sees her paintings as “[V]isions of her colorful world where she invites the viewer to step into the beauty of what she sees: a life that is abundant and full of color.” I spotted a painting of hers in Linh Truong’s apartment makeover video which led me on a rabbit chase of finding who the painting belonged to, and it was ever worth it! Chung’s artwork appearing on my Instagram timeline every day is the splash of color I need to remind me of the beauty that surrounds me.
Marilyn Hightower is a twenty-four-year-old freelance storytelling illustrator. I first came across Hightower’s work on Halsey’s Instagram as a recipient of the Black Creators Fund. The caption caught my eye when describing her aspirations of wanting “[T]o create comics that are compelling, funny, and adventurous, with characters she’s been wanting to see in the spotlight of these genres for years. She works to create Black-led, POC-led, and LGBTQIA led stories and adventures.” I’m always looking for art that includes BIPOC and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and Hightower’s comic Holy Hell, a paranormal mystery, does just that. The web comic follows witch doctor Natasha Nightingale, a failed physician as she meets Angel Amber and together, they discover what’s causing monsters to plague their city. Hightower’s comic has me torn between wanting to find out what’s going to happen next and wanting to start at each drawing for minutes on end. Issue one and two are available on https://holyhellcomic.com/, with issue three soon to come!
Allegra Zagala is an illustrator based in the Philippines. I was introduced to her artwork when a Youtuber I’m subscribed to commissioned her for an illustration. With the use of pastel colors, Zagala manages to draw profiles in a way that’s both intense and soft at the same time. The backgrounds of her illustrations are neutral colors, which allow the clothes and makeup she includes on the OCs she draws to really pop and get the attention it deserves. Her artwork is something I need to have on my walls and also something I reference for fashion because the clothing she draws her OCs in is influenced by modern fashion and so cute!
A Hole Walked In by Sarah Cavar, Sword & Kettle Press
“Four days bleeding. Feels like fewer. I stand before a dying Hollister inside a cryptfreeze mall. Bleeding not of man or moon but face, in rivulets, so far only from my eyes and nose and mouth.” A Hole Walked In is a surrealist-gothic-body-horror short fiction about a person whose face won’t stop bleeding. This short story gave me chills! It was so compelling. It made me want to know what was going on— why was this person’s face bleeding? As I read on, I began to understand that the story wasn’t necessarily about why the person’s face was bleeding, but instead about the media’s exploitation of people with disabilities. The story starts out with an agent spotting the person bleeding in a mall, telling them that they “have the look” and wanting them to model for a photoshoot. I found it interesting how throughout the story the agent was so fascinated with the character’s bleeding face, but not with them as a person. The agent wants the person for the idea of their bleeding face but doesn’t want to actually understand them as a full individual. When the character coughs up blood, the agent says, “Ugh, can’t that wait?” What makes this story truly horrifying is the ableism that is all too common in the media, which uses people’s differences, not because they actually care for them but for their own purposes. This story was short in length but lingered in my mind for a long time. If you’re looking for something short, surreal, and compelling, Cavar’s mini chapbook is for you.
Content Warning: body horror, disordered eating, descriptions of blood and gore, self-harm.
Orange by Ichigo Takano
I rediscovered this manga last month and was reintroduced to my love for Orange. This Manga series follows a young girl named Naho who receives a letter from her future self. The letter instructs her to watch over a new transfer student Kakeru and save him from a future in which he dies. Throughout the story, Naho tries her best to save Kakeru. This manga is beautiful, not only in the illustrations but also in the storytelling. The friendships between Naho and her friends are so pure and lighten the heavy topics of suicide and depression the manga brings up. Takano breaks the idea that heavy topic and light situations can’t exist simultaneously and instead shows that they can and should. As someone who struggles with depression, showing the group of friends as supportive and understanding of Kakeru’s depression was powerful. After reading the manga twice, I warn you to have a box of tissues nearby when reading this.
The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood
The Bad Muslim Discount follows two characters: Anwar and Safwa, as they move from Pakistan and Iraq to San Francisco. Where to even begin with this book. I went into this novel knowing next to nothing and came out with a new favorite book. The story was so beautifully written, hence the many stickies sticking out of my copy, and blended the tones of seriousness and humor seamlessly. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from this book: “It is a difficult business, uprooting yourself from the soil in which you’ve been planted. Few trees try it, and more than a few never bloom again when they do.” The characters also switch off perspectives at times, which made me love the story even more. I usually struggle with dual perspective books, always loving one perspective more than the other, but this was a rare case where I was equally invested in each character’s story. Masood had a way of making these characters flawed but loveable in a way where I couldn’t help but root for them. This book is fast-paced, well-written, and will make you want to reread it.
These nine art forms are labeled as my Holy Trinities for a reason— they’re not things I’ve heard, seen or read and then moved on from, they’ve followed and comforted me since the day I came across them. Sarah Kang’s music transports me to my cozy coffee shops I haven’t been able to visit in over a year, Rachel Chung’s artwork raises my spirits with her bright colors, and from Ichigo Takano’s Orange I was able to seek comfort in that I wasn’t alone in my depression. I share these with the hope that my Holy Trinities could possibly become yours.
About Trinity Jones
Trinity Jones is a senior at Iowa State University where she is majoring in English with minors in Women’s and Gender Studies and World Film Studies. She runs the Instagram @browngirlblooming_ which is dedicated to her love of books. When she isn’t writing, she can be found reading, listening to music, or spending time with her family.