Proviso, a collaborative chapbook between poet Steve Bellin-Oka, and visual artist Kristen Tomecek confronts the inordinate hurdles binational LGBTQIA couples encounter when trying to obtain green cards for the immigrant partner. Steve Bellin-Oka’s poems are built around actual immigration interview questions, and Kristen Tomecek’s abstract paintings respond to the poems. Interrogating traditional symbols of freedom like the Statue of Liberty and the bald eagle, Bellin-Oka and Tomecek explore how “leaving/is to die a little/and arriving/is to never really arrive.”
Steve Bellin-Oka was born and raised in Baltimore. His first book of poems, Instructions for Seeing a Ghost, won the 2019 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize and was published by the University of North Texas Press in 2020. He is also the author of four previous chapbooks, most recently Tell Me Exactly What You Saw and What You Think It Means (SCE Press, 2021), winner of the 2020 Blue Mountain Review LGBTQ+ Chapbook Prize. He has received fellowships from the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and the National Parks Arts Foundation.
Kristen Tomecek is an abstract painter, graphic designer, and multimedia artist from Baltimore, Maryland. She holds a degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and is a member of the Maryland State Arts Council. Active in local movements to exhibit art in non-traditional spaces, Kristen’s work has been shown in unique locales throughout Baltimore.