SBCC students create pop-up shop that transcends gender identity

From+left%2C+Bailey+Holland%2C+Will+Goodnough+and+Ray+Kutcher+wear+a+few+of+the+articles+of+clothing+they+made+for+their+art+collective+brand+called+Swampwater.+%0A

Kevin Ham

From left, Bailey Holland, Will Goodnough and Ray Kutcher wear a few of the articles of clothing they made for their art collective brand called Swampwater.

Alloy Zarate, Staff Writer

Hand-painted thrift store clothes, puffy paint patches and anti-capitalism holiday cards are just a small piece of the Swampwater art collective, with the mission to destroy the boundaries of gender identity.

The collective is made up of Santa Barbara locals and City College students Bailey Holland, Will Goodnough, and Ray Kutcher, who all identify as non-binary—a label that encapsulates being neither fully male nor fully female. 

Goodnough said they created Swampwater as a way to “formalize meeting similarly inclined folks.”

The collective host’s pop-up markets at various locations around town where they sell customized clothing alongside other local artists and bands.

Goodnough describes the group’s aesthetic as “very sci-fi fantasy.” A look that developed from their interest in do-it-yourself punk culture.

Some of the creations include a white t-shirt with the word “neither” painted in swirly orange letters, a postcard of Santa Claus saying he will “personally kick the ass of every landlord, terf, fascist, and cop,” and a purple purse embellished with puffy paint letters that spell out “SWAMPWATER.”

The three first met in high school when they’d go to the all-ages music venue, the FUNZONE, that closed in 2017.

“It was like ok, we’re all still here in Santa Barbara so let’s try and put our brains together,” Holland said. “And create something that actually makes a space where everyone can come and feel safe in and display their creativity.”

Goodnough said that the FUNZONE was great for music but there was never an accessible space for visual artists in Santa Barbara.

“Art is kind of anti-social,” Goodnough said.

The collective aims to make their creations accessible and interactive by letting customers choose what they pay.

“I hate the part that’s the selling,” Goodnough said when asked about the price of a shirt at the collective’s latest pop-up.

The collective creates a visual language that inspires people to express themselves without worrying about fitting into society’s rigid definitions of identities.

“It’s about imagining a future,” Goodnough said. “Whatever that means to you.”

The message has resonated with many people in the community.

A friend of the group, Kate Babcock said that she appreciates the space they created because “there are a lot of marginalized creators in Santa Barbara” who don’t have a place to show their work.

Kutcher recalls seeing someone wearing one of the shirts they made.

“It was like wow they really liked what we’re doing,” Kutcher said. “They obviously needed something like that.”

The first pop-up, which took place last October, was featured the first issue of “Swampwater Zine,” a printed magazine made up of Goodnough’s poetry, photoshop paintings and hand-drawn pages by Kutcher.

Kutcher said that they had previously only done “very modest and controlled art” before meeting Goodnough, who inspired them to “just let things be the way they are,” without striving for perfection.

“We just kind of do what we want to do and don’t think about it,” Holland said.