Two Friends (2020 - 2022)
My current body of work consists of a series of visual 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 if you will. On the x axis I have gay/straight, on the y male/ female. As things stand, I’ve sat myself down somewhere in the middle. This is the point from which I investigate and I argue with myself. 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 series 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 prints and collages are informed by the traditional materials, processes, language and function 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. Non-binary queerness is an area of scientific study and theory which often gets trivialized as being trendy or as some sort of ephemeral phase for millennials. It is not. Ideas of sexuality and gender have troubled human beings for centuries. This is why I utilize the authority of a traditionally acknowledged and respected scientific artistic format, naturalist prints. However, instead of animal or botanical specimens, the analyzed subject in this work is a page from an imaginary book. Notebooks as spaces for private argument and discovery, a context where problems are worked out before being finalized. I lay these work pages out for the viewer to investigate and analyze.
Symbolism is and continues to be important to the queer community. 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. This is apparent throughout queer art history. LGBTQ+ persons were consistently using symbology within “acceptable” works to talk about their inner feeling or socially “unacceptable” queerness. Many of these historical queer symbols appear within my work and are then explained and recognized within the “Index”. I seek to recognize and continue this visual queer history.
Which brings me to deception. Often in my work I have sought to deceive the viewer, or at least hide from the viewer. Symbolism served 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. An index which I was very careful to reveal incrementally and at times of my choosing. In this body of work it was important for me to include an “Index” which removed my ability to hide and also created a space for education about LGBTQ+ art history.