This exhibition explores the interaction between LGBTQ+ identities and their history. To be visibly LGBTQ+ and to showcase LGBTQ+ identities and their stories is inherently political. The way these individuals live their lives is considered a public matter, while they are also marginalized in law and society. The artists featured in this exhibition document their own stories as LGBTQ+ individuals, creating histories that may otherwise be ignored or erased. These intimate representations of LGBTQ+ experiences, both of the artists and of others, subvert traditional expectations for white, cisgendered, and heterosexual lives. These artists not only fill a void in the art world, but also continue the fight against stigma, oppression, and marginalization. Further, these artists show that LGBTQ+ histories are not only ones of struggle and oppression, but of love, resilience, and joy.
Megan Hancock, Curator of Education and Exhibitions of Denison Museum, shares some thoughts about this exhibition with us:
Tell me about the importance of the exhibit in your eyes. (LGBTQ art exhibit about history and identities).
The “About Ourselves/Inside Ourselves” exhibition has taken over five years to create, in coordination with many departments and faculty across campus. The exhibition is significant in part because, unlike a lot of LGBTQ+ shows, it eschews the typical focus on historic events (e.g., Stonewall or HIV/AIDS), taking a big step back so that the artists can speak for themselves, to tell us their own stories. This emphasis on authentic story and identity encourages us to contemplate questions like, ‘Who do you identify with? What characteristics, beliefs, and connections do you share with those you identify with?’
What classes have been involved in the museum this semester?
The Museum works with faculty and departments to integrate what is happening on campus and in the classroom into the gallery. We have a wealth of knowledge on this campus, with scholars in many fields, doing fascinating and important work. Through conversations and planning, we are able to translate their knowledge into the visual realm, creating a space for rich dialogue around all sorts of ideas and topics. A wide variety of classes and speakers are using the exhibition such as: Queer Studies, Studio Art, Education, Black Studies, Anthropology/Sociology, English, and many Advising Circles.
What other works are in the ‘exhibition’ that you think are important to talk about?
An exhibition around LGBTQ+ topics is something that the Museum and campus has been wanting to do for years. Through generous loans from foundations, galleries, and sister institutions, the exhibition features world-renowned artists such as Zanele Muholi and Anne Leibowitz, as well as historically significant artists like David Wojnarowicz and Felix Gonzalez-Torres. In addition, we also have the opportunity to highlight two Denison Studio Art faculty members: Sheilah ReStack and Ron Abram.
Is there anything that I didn’t touch base on that you would like to add?
Besides the gallery space, you have the opportunity to engage with the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres around campus. His work “Untitled” (March 5th) #1, 1991 is touring campus in a variety of locations. See if you can spot this work up in Curtis dining hall Oct 21- Nov 8th. Perhaps you’ll see a little bit of yourself in it…
Written by Sherry Xu ‘21
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