An Evening with Anastasio Wrobel

The images in the Nonbinary Coloring Book are crafted in a way that makes it difficult to color “in the lines.” The use of absent space and abstract concept is a result of creator Anastasio Wrobel trying to understand their own art through their process of coming out. Each image is uniquely different, depicting forms with reptilian heads, bodies with one feminine breast and one masculine pectoral and declarations of self acceptance and value. Many of the pictures are, in one way or another, self portraits. One depicts Wrobel with multiple sets of breasts, a play on Wrobel ‘s current painting project titled Dysphoria. Each image is uniquely different.

Anastasio reading from their coloring book. Photo by Lexi Malone

After moving back to Santa Fe following an eight-year period in Seattle, Wrobel was invited to present their Nonbinary Coloring Book by the Colors, Gender, and Sexuality Alliance of Santa Fe University of Art and Design. The event, An Evening with Anastasio Wrobel, will be held at 6 p.m., April 21 in the Fogelson Library and include community coloring of printouts from the book, open discussion with Wrobel and the opportunity to observe Wrobel create illustrations live. While some coloring materials and snacks will be provided, visitors are encouraged to bring their own supplies and to be wary of the more messy mediums. The event will be open to the campus and to the Santa Fe community.

Jonah Rydin, CGAS co-president believes that the event aims to educate. “Anastasio’s perspective, and their willingness to share their art & discuss their identity with the SFUAD community is extremely important,” Rydin says. “This is a valuable opportunity for people who misunderstand the trans community, and non-binary identities especially, to gain a greater level of understanding through art and conversation.”

The Nonbinary Coloring Book began as a much bigger project. “I wanted to develop a short curriculum to help educate people with transitioning to gender neutral language instead of binary focused language,” Wrobel says. After realizing the scope of what they wanted to create could not be contained in a semester-long project, Wrobel created the coloring book, which they consider an anti-coloring book dedicated to trans and non-conforming people. “It was a failed attempt at educating everybody,” Wrobel says. “But it turned into a celebration and a chance for people to see themselves in a piece of media.”

Wrobel believes that every movie, book or medium can be remade into something neutral and inclusive. “[Media] can deviate completely from the gender binary that is the standard of our society.” When Wrobel came into their trans identity, they realized that everything that had been made now excluded them and other non-conforming individuals. The coloring book, which is commonly the first medium of art a child encounters, has been re-popularized into adult coloring books, which inspired Wrobel to change the focus of the medium. “The coloring books that are out there are utilized as a distraction,” Wrobel says. The Nonbinary Coloring Book draws attention to the ideas Wrobel cares about. They never were very impressed by the adult-coloring books. “I needed to create something different.”

Coloring pages from the Non-Binary Coloring book. Photo by Lexi Malone

The book captures many different aspects of Wrobel’s life. When the pages are arranged in a specific order that differs from the printed order, it tells a narrative of the changes Wrobel faced during the time they constructed the book. Wrobel explores people who had been in their life but aren’t anymore, and the pages are littered with eyeballs, speaking to their ongoing feeling of being watched. “Being in a public space, anybody could look at me in a way that is to classify me and decode me,” Wrobel says.

Despite the shifts Wrobel was going through during the creation of the book, the work is joyful, and even though the original narrative is shuffled around, the book ends on the note of “ONWARD,” which Wrobel says is sweet farewell. “Who knows where I’m going next?”

The event will be held April 21 and begins at 6 p.m. in Fogelson Library, but Wrobel will begin live-drawing shortly beforehand.