Taking shape during summer solstice

Magic goat-insect hybrids in vivid colors. A samurai elf facing down a soot-caked celestial beast. Woodland fawns cut out and laid over parochial scenery.

This is the wonderful, gossamer-swept vision of nonbinary Philadelphia artist and curator of the fantastic, Malachi Lily (who goes by Malachi). Their upcoming event, “Garden of Earthly Delights,” promises to spring to life with the same entropic vigor as their drawings and collages.

“In my visual art, I create loose ink or pencil drawings and cut paper pieces of creatures with bodies reminiscent to what’s familiar but otherwise imagined,” Malachi said. “Bodies that are liminal between shape, like my own, between human and animal or physical and etheric. I try to capture these imaginative forms in other aesthetic projects such as stylizing shoots.”

Malachi’s social media teems with depictions of distended bodies in settings reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic “Zelda” — not quite nightmarish but far from a dream, residing in the space of human consciousness reserved for deciphering the otherworldly.

For Malachi, this fantasy is a lived experience. Their ventures into styling and photography show subjects — and often themself  — adorned like fashionable fairy-cyborg hybrids. The fantastic ephemera of Malachi’s work belies the enveloping politic strata the work possesses.

“My abilities are soaked in imagination, cultivating joy and beauty, the exaltation of others and spiritual counsel. Fear has the same amount of creative force as love or desire. I choose to not live in fear or cultivate fear. I create beauty and joy with my work. I choose to release fear and replace it with self-love wherever I can.

“Many sci-fi and fantasy artists and writers use their abilities to bring to light our fears and collective challenges, or bring energy to people that were previously forgotten in those genres,” added the artist. “There’s creation magick in putting a black person in a story about the far-off future or as a mythical creature of the deep ocean. I believe in the experiential evolution of our people. I believe we will develop to understand there is more to who we are and more than just our reality. I create so that people can know themselves and see the infinite possibilities.”

With events like “Garden of Earthly Delights,” the communities at the intersection of BIPOC and LGBT identities benefit from Malachi’s enterprising.

The event takes place on the summer solstice and will be a menagerie of wildly speculative performances — drag, burlesque, dancing and costume prizes, all in an accessible space at Bartram’s Gardens.

“The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and holds magick for many groups of people,” Malachi ruminated. “It’s clear to me that the sun brings joy to a lot of queer people who experience seasonal depression. This is a way of thanking the sunlight and the summertime and thanking ourselves for allowing this experience of joy and for our own magick.”

Under the name Hawkmoth Events, Malachi’s past curatorial endeavors include “Gaudlike,” an exploration of the divinity within, featuring 14 eclectic artists from a wide range of expressions, and “O:O Our Black Arts,” a celebration of radical black joy by black artists often ostracized by their respective communities.

The creators Malachi brings together venture throughout all possible spectrums, but its Malachi themself who reflects disparate dichotomy in full bloom.

“Perhaps more than identifying along the LGBTQ spectrum, I identify as the spectrum. I am a shapeshifter,” the artist explained. “I am genderfluid. I was assigned a female gender based on the shape of my body as an infant, but I am not a woman, nor a man: I am both and everything beyond these limited concepts. If you must have a defined label, I more often than not feel like a Divine Boy-Mom. I have the capacity to be attracted to all people and a desire to love all kinds of forms. I am not limited and neither is my heart.”

Having often been denied access to both artistic spaces and Black spaces as a mixed-race child, Malachi uses Hawkmoth to give back.

“Hawkmoth Events is a way that I can utilize my ability to organize and channel others’ energies to support people in meeting each other, creating work together and/or sharing artistic space.” 


Find Malachi on Instagram @theholyhawkmoth and @hawkmothevents. For more information, visit maggielily.com