The Black Vortex (MFA Thesis)
The Black Vortex is a series of essays about my battle with nonbinary queerness. My self discovery of queerness has come through a lot of internal struggle and argument. I found myself at a crossroads, an x/y axis. On the x axis I have gay/straight, on the y male/female. As things currently stand, I’ve sat myself down right in the middle. This is the point from where I investigate and I argue with myself. Then I hang that argument on a wall. The argument? Am I, or am I not a liar? As the topic is multifaceted, it requires a multi-pronged approach. Each piece in this exhibition seeks to approach this debate from a different angle in order to come to a conclusion which takes into account; history, memory, risk, deception and feeling.
These pieces were made utilizing the traditional materials, processes, and language of naturalist prints. Naturalist prints were created as images of scientific study and education. Animals and plants were drawn in order to define and gain understanding of their nature. However, instead of animal or botanical specimens, the analyzed subject in my work is a page from an imaginary book. A book titled The Black Vortex. Notebooks are spaces for private argument and discovery. A context where problems are worked out before being finalized. Within this work, a series of these pages are laid out for the viewer to investigate. Within this page important language, marks, relationships and symbols are presented for analysis.
Scientific language holds institutionalized authority. We trust scientists. Often issues surrounding non-binary queerness are discredited as being trendy or some sort of ephemeral phase for millennials. Within this body of work I subvert the imagery of science to add legitimacy and historic canon to an issue which has been going on for hundreds of years. LGBTQ+ persons in the past may have not been able to speak openly, but they found their own ways to communicate queer feeling.
Symbolism has a deep tradition within queer history. Often double coded, it allowed and continues to allow members of the community to communicate to the “in” crowd while also eluding would be persecutors. I am consistently intrigued by subtext and nonverbal communication. Which brings me to deception. Often in my work I have sought to deceive the viewer, or at least hide from the viewer. Symbolism serves this goal. I could create a work which, much like a page, had two faces. An outward facing confusing landscape of symbols which could only be interpreted by my internal index, one which I was very careful to reveal incrementally at times of my choosing. In The Black Vortex this index can be viewed at the end of the exhibition. The index decodes this symbolism.