"5 poisons" refers to an ancient Chinese medicinal concept; in particular the centipede, scorpion, frog, snake, and spider. Mid year is said to be an inauspicious time, as poisonous animals emerge from cold slumber; along with them hostile spirits, disease, and often, enemies. During this time, talismans inscribed with these 5 poisonous animals, sometimes with an addition of a tiger to ward them off, were worn as protection. Some ingested tinctures infused with small amounts of poison, with the belief that “fighting poison with poison” could combat the threat of poisoning by one of the 5 beasts or other malevolent spirits. 

It is curious that the antidote to a poison might contain amounts of the poison itself; that medicine, in the right dosage, crosses a threshold into toxicity. Lauren YS and Makoto Chi make, traverse, question, and turn these concepts in their hands in this new combined body of work. Their anthropomorphized, hybrid-mythic figures make tactile and explore a means of thinking about our social realities, bringing up questions and paradoxes of the use of force in our social movement spaces and intimate relationships, the desire toward of violence or revenge in a quest for a just and better world, the fraught nature of community as we attempt to work around each other towards transformation. 

Painting from their respective practices — Makoto in tattooing, and Lauren in muralism — the artists meet and intersect to weave stories soaked with elements of identity, community and heritage. Both drawing inspiration from mixed-race East Asian heritages, each pull from a veritable well of invented and historical symbology respective to China, Japan, Judaism and a new synthesis of these backgrounds. Makoto's intricate line-based paintings present writhing humanoid creatures in both tension and intimacy with one another; speaking to the animalism that underscores every human entanglement. Lauren's drawings traverse between images of dreams, processing therapy, and portraits of queer community translated through mythology, in an attempt to capture all that is ephemeral yet held in blood and memory. Created across the East and West coasts of the US, Makoto and Lauren's work present a multi-layered entry into illustrated psychosomatic universes that seek to question as much as answer--

Whose poison do you drink to ward off the unabating hum of pernicious spirits, beings and forces around you? Will you be aware of when your medicine turns noxious? How do we keep loving each other, in a hostile culture? Will we be brave enough to hold each other close at the end of the world? Can we reckon with the monsters within ourselves? "