Cat Haines, Digital artwork created in Minecraft, 2021
About the Artwork
Virtual worlds like Minecraft can make us think about the changes we’d like to see in the real world. Cat Haines’ artworks in Minecraft explore a world where transgender people are given more control of their bodies and lives. She explores her identity and experiences as a trans woman, and makes us think about how cisgender people often look at and talk about transgender people in harmful ways. Through altered in-game paintings and writing on note blocks in her Minecraft world, Cat shares many very personal stories. One of these is a loving story about her relationship with her wife, and how their relationship both changed and stayed the same as Cat transitioned. While her artwork can teach people a lot about being transgender, it more importantly makes a space where transgender people can feel comfortable, safe, and in control- something that is often missing in the real world.
Cat’s Minecraft server for Ender Gallery https://ender.gallery/ will be on display from May-June 2021. This artwork explores mature themes; like with all artworks, parents/teachers may want to explore the artwork first and think about ways of discussing it with children/students ahead of time.
About the Artist
Cat Haines is an artist from Regina, Saskatchewan, and the first person to take part in the MacKenzie’s Ender Gallery, a digital artist residency in Minecreaft. Cat’s artworks are meant to be part of bigger discourses, or large discussions being had in the art world. She is challenging how the art world explores topics like gender and feminism. Transgender people are those whose gender identity is different from the one they were given when they were born. Perhaps a doctor said, “it’s a boy!” when someone was born, but as they grow up that person knows inside that they are actually a girl. Or that person may even feel like neither “boy” or “girl” describes them entirely right. On the other hand, Cisgender people are those whose gender identity matches the one they were given at birth. Want to learn more about gender? Cat suggests starting with the website Trans Student Educational Resource- Trans Student Educational Resources – TSER.
Cat is studying Women and Gender studies at the University of Regina. She is an activist for the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ people.
She has also played Minecraft for many years!
Things to Think About
- What changes would you like to see in the world? How would you reflect those changes in a Minecraft setting?
- What are other things that we can do to help support safe and loving environments for all people? How do we create space for and care for others?
Post your artwork online using the hashtag #studiosundayyqr!
Design your own Minecraft block and consider how it could be used to make the world a safer, more caring place. In Minecraft, there are many different types of blocks that represent different materials like rock, sand, dirt, wood, or even water and lava! Artist Cat Haines uses photos to help design her custom block textures.
In Minecraft, there are many different types of blocks that represent different materials like rock, sand, dirt, wood, or even water and lava! Artist Cat Haines uses photos to help design her custom block textures. Design your own Minecraft block and consider how it could be used to make the world a safer, more caring place.
- Paper block template
- Markers/pencil crayons/crayons
- Glue sticks
- Clear tape
- Optionally, a computer to make a digital version
1. Think about what material you want to design a block for. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is missing from the world of Minecraft?
- What materials, designs, and colours would really allow you to show your personality when building things in the game?
- If things were built from different materials, could it make the world a better place?
2. Pick out the colours you want to use in your block design. Colour in each little square on your paper to make a new block design. Notice that there are going to be six sides to your block when you fold it up. Some Minecraft blocks are the same on every side, and some are not. Think about if you will repeat your pattern exactly on every side, or if it will change on different sides.
Interesting facts about the design of Minecraft blocks:
- Standard blocks are meant to represent one square meter. Some special blocks, like slabs, are different sizes.
- The texture on each side of the block is 16 x 16 pixels.
- Blocks can have special effects like giving off light or particles. Can you think of a way to represent a special effect in your block design?
3. Cut out your block, and fold along the dark lines. Put glue on the tabs and use them to connect the sides of your block together. You may want to use clear tape to help keep your block together too.
4. Want to take this even further? There are lots of tools for designing your own blocks and adding them to Minecraft!
- Easy designer (all block sides are the same): https://www.tynker.com/minecraft/creator/blocks/
- Advanced block designer: https://codecrafted.net/blockdesigner
Inspired by how Cat Haines uses Minecraft builds and skins for her avatar to explore her identity, design your own Minecraft skin and think about how you could visually represent yourself in digital spaces.
Supplies: (will vary depending on the version of the activity you choose)
- Pencil and paper
- Markers, pencil crayons, or crayons
- Printed avatar template
- Computer with internet access
1. Write (or type) out some statements about who you are. You can consider your gender, sexuality, interests, background, experiences, goals, morals and more. Some possible sentence starters include:
- I am . . .
- I believe . . .
- I feel . . .
- I dream about . . .
- I am interested in . . .
- Someday I want to . . .
2. Beside each statement you made, write (or sketch) how you could show that thing about yourself visually. For example, if you wrote “I am interested in bees,” you could choose to use yellow and black or stripes in your design, or give yourself wings, or show yourself wearing a bee print on your shirt.
3. Design a Minecraft skin that uses some or all of the visual elements that you brainstormed. You could either draw one from scratch, use our template, or use an online tool to create an avatar that you can upload to Minecraft! Here are a few options for online skin creators:
- Minecraft Skin Editor – Free Advanced Skins Editor for Create & Learn (tynker.com) (Note- use Ctrl+left mouse button to rotate)
- Minecraft Skin Editor (minecraftskins.com)
- Minecraft Skin Editor — SkinMC
4. If you made a digital version of your skin, try uploading it to Minecraft and playing while using the skin. Do you feel any different while playing when using a skin designed to represent who you are? Does this skin change how you play at all?