Bryan Espiritu On New Exhibit ‘Passage’ And Why He Ended The Legends League


How does this new work serve you?
The biggest difference is the feeling like I’m not fighting my way out of struggle. I’m not fighting my way out of pain. I’m not necessarily using my creativity as a means to get out of something. Right now, the way that this is serving me is landing in a place where I think that I’ve afforded an opportunity to have a voice and a platform that could potentially echo the struggles and traumas of other people as well.

That’s why a lot of the writing isn’t so specific. It’s quite broad. The way that this is serving me is almost like I’ve been able to elevate above the maze and see it from 30 thousand feet and realize maybe I was trying to get out of something. I can’t necessarily find the exit, but all I needed was to be able to elevate above it.

I think being able to write about some of those experiences and write about some of that pain and put it in the artwork has potentially allowed others to look at the work and see that I’m echoing the way that they feel. And that’s probably the biggest response I got from opening night. Even though our experiences are unique, they’re not uncommon.

“Unfortunately at some point Legends League was something that I felt I was doing for the people.”

What’s the overall theme of ‘Passage’?
From when I was very young, I wanted to write. Language in this setting, I wanted to be able to put the words in the forefront. Because writing has always been the most important aspect to my creativity, even in the way that I designed, even for Legends League. I didn’t want to hide behind that anymore. I didn’t want it to be camouflaged. Putting it forward was very intentional. A picture can paint a thousand words, but if I provide the words, people can interpret it in the way that they need.

Thematically, it’s based on difficult childhood experiences, and trauma, and how adults rationalize. I think it’s important, especially as a man of colour and a queer man of colour, there needs to be an ability for people to look at work and say: ‘this individual is not afraid to speak about being a child who’s experienced trauma, and an adult who can make sense of what that space is between those things.’ It’s a voice I feel I don’t always have in real life, I’d rather talk with my hands.