Please visit the Fall 2012 class website project at Queer Arts Los Angeles Website.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Queer Film Summer Sessions Course



LGBTS 183: Queer Film will be offered during UCLA Summer Sessions A. This course will explore the construction of LGBTQIA subjectivities through film, specifically, the films screened during the annual OutFest Queer Film Festival that takes place in Los Angeles within the 6-week period of summer session A; this year, from July 7-17, 2016. We will read about queer cinema, attend film screenings at OutFest, blog about our experiences, and create a final original 3-minute video poem about how sexuality constructs our own subjectivity. As an option, the course will offer a service-learning component to those students who wish to volunteer for OutFest.
About OutFest: Founded by UCLA students in 1982, Outfest is the world’s leading organization that promotes equality by creating, sharing, and protecting LGBT stories on the screen. Outfest builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss, and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. Over the past three decades, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers, and protected more than 36,000 LGBT films and videos. The Outfest UCLA Legacy Project is only program in the world exclusively dedicated to protecting LGBT films for future generations. --From the Outfest website, http://www.outfest.org


Portrait

Recently I've been thinking a lot about post-grad life. The loss of an identity i've carried with me for my entire life. I will no longer be a student, but will have to redefine myself completely as an adult and with the comes a very heavy load of doubt and fear. I am not a person who likes to fail and does everything in her power to succeed. That is who I was raised to be and that is who I am, but even with that I can't help but feeling like I am about to take a jump into unchartered waters and drown because I'm going to forget how to swim. While I was making this portrait I realized that all these anxieties and self-doubt moments I keep having are myself preparing my mind for the worst, but ultimately I have the final say in what happens to me in the future. The world does not get to dictate how successful I am or am not, only I get to decide that. The first time I read Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the places you'll go" I fell instantly connected to it, I was graduating high school, preparing to start a new chapter of my life and even though I was scared I made it, because here I am four years later ready to graduate with a better grasp of who I am and what I want to do with my life. Every experience I have had and will have will not be happy or successful ones, but I will take them on and come out on top one way or another. So to me this portrait I have created is a reminder and ode to myself that I am going places and though the future may be unknown to me it's coming and I can handle it. I am stronger than I think, smarter than I was, and in order to get where I want I need to let my fears and doubts go and thats exactly what I'll do.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Catherine Opie's "Portraits"

Cathrine Opie's “Portraits" is displayed at the Hammer Museum in it’s own small ovular room. It is separated in what feels like 3 distinct sections. Every image but one felt hyper-visible, with extreme picture quality and a dark background that seemed to bring the focus to the illuminate person in every portrait. The picture above is the only portrait in the collection to show no part of the individual face. Yet, me and a friend where stuck reading the image and her individuality for 10 solid minutes. My friend made the comment that “Her hands become her face” and in that statement I began to read the cues of here hand the way I would read the cues of someones face. The strength and ‘worn’ quality the hands possessed implied an intensity of experience, whether in a literal labor sense of just in active use. Being two dancers looking at a portrait of an assumed woman putting her hair up I suggested she looked like a ballet instructor putting up her hair before a lesson, a story that seemed to justify her strong hands and articulate fingers. It is interesting seeing Opie’s work in this context. The last portrait I saw of Opie’s was in the Whitney Museum in New York City, which is now on exhibit at MOCA. The constructed nature of Catherine Opie's, "Self-Portrait/Cutting," 1993 felt so different from the “Portraits” exhibit at the Hammer. It is interesting how she can build layers in an individual in “Portraits” and yet simultaneously abstract her body to build layers in ideology and message in Self-Portrait/Cutting” show her expansive nature as an artist.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Portraits

About a week ago I went to the Hammer to see Catherine Opie's "Portraits" and I was just as amused as I was at her exhibit in MOCA. I really liked the way she captured many very distinct appearances. I saw a vulnerability in the people in the photographs that I don't believe I could have seen if I were to actually see them in person. I really appreciated the dark background because to me it made the person seem as if they were being sucked into a certain darkness. The way the portraits were set up also created an effect for me I feel. The oval shaped frame is different from your usual frame and I feel that that added to the beauty of this exhibit. Also I feel that the artist redefined the idea of a "portrait" due to the fact that even though she does believe these photographs are portraits, she does not center the photograph on solely the face of the person. I like that she did this because the individuality of an artist is probably the most important quality.

La Sonrisa

For my image, I wanted to include several factors that didn't necessarily relate to each other. As you can see there seems to be a a lot going on, but the message I wanted to get across was the fact that even though our mouths may be deciphering a smile, it does not mean we truly feel content. As human beings, we have a tendency to judge others solely by their appearance, when in reality our appearance could not possibly express everything one carries inside. We may see a person smiling and they may be faking it, they might be going through the worst time of their lives, but we won't stop and think about it because that is not what we see. We need to come to the realization that our assumptions are not always correct. We need to see past the smiling, because a persons eyes say more than a smile will ever do. The background depicts something that looks like a starry sky and I felt that background would be appropriate for my image due to the fact that the sky is something so much more than what we know. We see blue, but we don't know what lives in the blue. It is unknown, therefore we can assume, but never truly be right.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Self-Portrait

In my self-portrait, I initially wanted to create a comical representation of religious persecution of homosexuals and need for finding a place of belonging. Initially, I began with an idea of turning away from ignorance in search of somewhere using religious persecution as an initiative. In order to inspire comic relief, I wanted to give the ignorant audience a very literal representation of what it is that they implied when they made homosexuals out to be sinners. In this, I had manipulated my face to be a bit demonic in that it had symbols posters of protesters in the background who were blind to the real world behind them, which was full of color. The poster took a turn towards a direction that I didn't necessarily agree with. Instead, I scrapped the poster and began again with the ideas that were most important to me. Namely, the idea of trying to find a place of belonging. I figured that with all of the negativity that exists in the world, there is no reason why sanctuary could not be found somewhere in the great expanse of the universe. So, in my poster, I took to space, and am planting Queer flag on the moon, an unknown, unclaimed environment. Around my head is a bubble helmet, symbolizing fragility of the search for a place of belonging, but still represents a conviction to search. It also symbolizes a retraction from the hateful dirt that is on the Earth. At my feet, I have brought/found a little companion who is watching me establish this new home.


For my self-portrait, I wanted to centralize my theme around the colorful individual nature of sexuality and desire. I also wanted to draw on my "Queer as Style" Poster to play with the use of color to and stylization to create highlight this individualistic nature. I felt that in this being a self-portrait I had to consider the ways in which I stylize and color my desires. The wig worn in the portrait has a lot of energy and meaning for me. After two years of hair growth I decided to get individual colorful braids and fell in love with my new hair. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I wanted it to last forever, and as this was not my first experience with braids I knew this was not possible. This past November I made the decision to cut each braid at the root and make a wig with some still tightly braided and some unraveled. This wig connects me to my belief in queer stylization, and that exploration in your ideas is the only way to further understand yourself. In terms of desire, I am an expressive and often performative person and I therefore thought to have this feeling of ecstasy in my portrait. However, as mentioned eloquently my by Shane in his self-portrait description, I am aware of my male presenting body. The intention if the nipple tassels is to lighten that intensity and weaken any sense of hyper-masculinity. The result is a playful, colorful, and layered presentation of my sexuality as an example of stylized desire.

Portrait

This portrait was taken on the Normandie hill before getting to the 101 freeway. It spans from Normandie and Melrose to Normandie and Beverly. This hill has strengthened my legs over the years; I've ran from the bottom to the top trying to catch buses, rides, or a dealer depending on the day. Unfortunately, in my portrait, you would not even be able to tell where this is.
You can barely see anything actually, not even my own face. The only thing that shines bright and is visible is the word tortillera, right across my eyes, that translates into lesbian. The first time I ever heard this word, I was with my mother and handful of her girlfriends. They were all sitting down, gossiping about god knows what and I was hardly paying attention because what kid cares about asuntos de adultos(adult matters)...boring. It was not until she said the word tortillera, that I froze. I had never even heard the word before but I already knew it was going to mean something sexual. When I asked my mom, she explained to me that tortilleras are lesbians and that's what people call them in Monterrey, her hometown in Mexico.
I knew at that instant, that I too was a tortillera. I spent years trying to convince myself otherwise however. I did not feel at peace with these feelings I was having towards other women because I knew that my mami would love me unconditionally, it was and continues to be my papa that I worry about. The more I tried ignoring these feelings or hoping it was just a phase, the more depressed it made me.
I committed to just being a drunk and swore off any sort of romantic relationships with any gender. It was all about sex, partying, and crass behavior. Through that period of time, my image of myself, much like the one in my portrait, was almost unrecognizable. I was doing all this damage to myself just to conceal an identity that was so obviously permanent, like the letters across my eyes.
I came to college and began to meet other people who had gone through the same feelings of isolation and pain because of who they were and felt as if I had finally found home. I began to see that there was a world outside of the one I was living in, in which it was okay to be who I was and love who I want to love. I feel that over the past couple of years, I have really began to start flourishing. I am now at peace with myself and love who I am but sometimes, my image and identity still feel a little unrecognizable.
When I go visit my parents, I am comfortable sharing a lot of my personal life with mami because I know I can tell her anything. My papa and I, however, have a different relationship. We talk about college, my plans after, gossip about what our family in Nicaragua is up too, and politics. We never talk about love or relationships but he keeps assuming I will marry a man and even though it is written right across my face, he still can't see it.

Self-portrait - Ronak


For my self-portrait, I wanted to express that everyone comes in different shapes and sizes and that even within ourselves, we change over time. From a very early age, we are shown by TV and films very standard ways of what to wear, how to act, and how to talk. However, this does not mean everyone needs to conform to the Hollywood way of life. Each shape, represents a state of being and this can change over a few years, months, days, or even minutes. Sometimes we are rough around the edges and sometimes we are smooth around the edges. In the end, this piece represents that one size does not fit all and by the wise words of theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Alexandra Atienzo, Self Portrait


        My self portrait was centered around the idea of words, the weight they have, and the impact they can have on our bodies. This portrait involved a bit of vulnerability on my part, as I stripped myself down to biker shorts and a sports bra to pose in front of white curtains. I was hoping to provoke the same medical feeling pre and post-op pictures patients take as part of the process of plastic surgery. Within the surgical marks are words in Spanish often said in "kindness" to family, loved ones, or friends. These words were constantly sent my way growing up, no matter what my body looked like, it was just part of our crude humor. And though I knew my family and friends meant no harm with their words, I couldn't help but let them ring in my head as I delved into a downward spiral of anorexia and body dysmorphia.
      With this piece I want to express just how much weight our words carry on our loved ones, even if our intentions are good. I purposefully chose words in Spanish because eating disorders and body shaming is not something often talked about in Latinx culture. For many women and femmes, hearing words like "Gorda" "Pendeja" "Longas" are just part of our socialization and growing up. Often these words serve as subtle reminders of the consequences of being fat or not fitting into a certain standard of beauty. These words have long lasting effects on everyone, but especially for those suffering in silence with eating disorders.

Self Portrait

My self portrait is centered around the idea of erasure. With black paint, the material that I use most often in my work, I painted over the areas in my self portrait that identified my gender. The image that I painted over is one of me standing proudly in front of one of my installations, claiming ownership of it, and proclaiming myself as the maker of the work. When making this installation, a lot of physical labor was involved, heavy lifting of objects and reworking of space, which made me think of my role as a woman making this work, and how physical strength is not usually associated with women. This gave me the idea of re-working my self portrait, erasing all of the identifiers of my gender, to resist being understood or labeled as a particular gender. This is something that I have been thinking about a lot recently, and how I am interested in resisting being labeled a particular gender in everyday life, and not only in my work. But I am also interested in resisting gender in the art world. As an active artist who is involved in the art world, I don't necessarily want my gender to inform my work. This is why I painted over the elements in this photo that didn't need to be taken into account, and highlighting the information that was more important. I want my work to be looked at and taken into account, not my body.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Giselle Persak, Self-Portrait



In studying David Wojnarowicz's art, I was really thinking about his use of black and white in his self-portraits. I wanted to keep my image really simple, so as to make my message both clear and able to be defined personally by the viewer. In starting this assignment, I considered what a self-portrait means to my generation in this day and time. There has been this transformation from the art of a self-portrait to what we do today - the selfie. While I love the idea of having that connection with technology and others that enables us to share our unique moments, it is the pressures that come with the act of sharing so much of our lives that I was more focused on. Because we are so surrounded by social media and these perfect images of photoshopped people and bodies, we feel this pressure to take a second look at ourselves to see what needs to be changed or altered before uploading. That is the exact idea that was meant to be communicated in this piece. It is the concept that because of social pressures we feel the need to change ourselves based on the influence of others, drawing influence from a perceived idea of others' perfection instead of our own perfection found in our individuality.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lexi's Self Portrait

For my portrait, I  am illustrating the misplaced and uncomfortable feeling of being raised within a mixed race family and not quite fitting into either side. I often felt too black for my Mexican American side of my family and not black enough for my African American side. Which I was reminded of my failure to “act black” very often throughout my childhood.  I chose to use a portrait image of myself that I look at and feel confident and beautiful in. This says to me that I am allowing myself to stand on my own two feet despite the crippling feeling of rejection and hoping to pass for the sake of my fragile feelings.  I chose to invert one half of my image to further the alien feeling and also incorporate some of the struggle to even accept myself. I used the two sides of my families to illustrate the army of those who have loved me and supported me, but as loved as I was, I often felt out of place and if I was not conforming to their expectations of my behavior, dress, speech or mannerisms, I was lying to myself and and lying to them as well. I have never felt that my loyalties have lied with one group more than the other, rather, I preferred to float by peacefully. I distorted and made my background image black and white to create an almost uncomfortable tension in comparison to the image in the forefront. All eyes on me and for the right reasons.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Jackie's Self Portrait

What I found most inspiring from David Wojinarowicz was the rawness of his artwork. Although at times I found myself cringing, I was still captivated by the range of emotions that were being evoked.
____
I've been thinking a lot lately about who I am. There is the entire me, the way I perceive myself, and the idea of me. I find these entities competing against themselves at times most when I'm trying to find the balance. It's a constant internal challenge for me, but through this project I wanted to showcase this feeling with the change in movement and emotions. 

Through this set of pictures, I intended to capture all three (the entire me, the way I perceive myself, and the idea of me). These shots are candid and paused screenshots of a full length video of me putting on makeup and taking off makeup. The candidness of these photographs illustrate the unedited/raw version of me. As I'm doing all these actions, I'm looking at a mirror reflecting the way I perceive myself. Then finally, actions of me putting on makeup and creating an edited version of me, demonstrate the idea of me that I create. 


Shane Valentine, Self-portrait, 2016


For my self-portrait, I didn't want to follow in the same exact vain as David Wojnarowicz in portraiture in the canon of activism. But what I took from his own portraiture is the vulnerability to place himself in front the lens, whether self-mutalated or buried by the weight of the earth. I sought to discover my own individualism and vulnerability as a cisgender male. Trying to take out the hyper dominance or masculinity documented of the male body. Using transparent materials, colored gels, and using multiple exposures,  as ways to fragment myself, allowing for different variables within the photo to be read. I have this impulsion to imply gender, gender-transgessiveness, gender-materiality, and the performance of feminity within the studio space.

Self Portrait, Jun Zhou




"Pan-ic"

This is a self-portrait of me. On the melting face is the “pansexual pride flag” ( three horizontal bars that are pink, yellow, and blue. The pink symbolizes women, the blue men, and the yellow those of a non-binary gender, such as agender, bigender or genderfluid). 
I use the word "Panic" as the name of this photo, for on the one hand, it accidentally shares the same prefix pan- with word " pansexuality", but most importantly I really want to express the mixed feelings when I find myself pansexual. 
It seems like there is a gill grow slowly on my face and enable me to finally drown myself into the ocean like a free whale, however due to the "land attributes", I feel like there always be a strong string tugging my face, my body and my mind to the warm earth .
 It involves the transmutation of fear, excitement, loss, and pain within me. Just like this melting face in the photo, I glance left then right and never know in which side I should stay. Or maybe it is better to embrace this side of me and stay in the status of “ melting" or " blur".
 I am who I am.




Saturday, March 5, 2016

Something more to say about " Dolores Del Río mural "





" Dolores Del Río mural " (1990) acrylic paint on wall. This mural can be seen as a tribute paid to the famous Mexican Hollywood actress by Alfredo de Batuc. Dominating in the center is a large black and white head shot of the star, and in each corner an oval with scenes from four of her movies: What Price Glory?, 1926; Flying Down to Rio, 1933; María Candelaria, 1943; and The Fugitive, 1947. Her portrait and the oval scenes are in black and white contrasting sharply with the sunset colors of the background that go from fiery oranges to a passionate red to a dusky burgundy. Warmly touched by the sky in the background is the snow-covered silhouette of Ixtaccíhuatl -- the Sleeping Woman -- a dormant volcano that has been the subject of myth and legend since time immemorial. As an offering to this celluloid deity the sides and the center foreground were festooned with flowers. Most of these flowers are native to southern California or to the southwestern deserts as an allusion to this land and to Flor silvestre [Wild Flower] (1942), her first movie after she left Hollywood. Other flowers that hint at movie titles are Bird of Paradise (1932) and Bugambilia (1944.) The two pairs of calla lilies, after Imogen Cunningham, are a reference to the avant garde of the twenties and thirties in its San Francisco expression.

Friday, March 4, 2016

just something to say


Hi, guys, I'm Jun, Zhou. The exchange student from China for just three months and this is the first time I come to America. Two months has passed and I should say this is definitely one of the most amazing time I've ever had. My major here is Gender Studies, but LGBT Studies has always being one of my top interests. Therefore, I feel so lucky to come here and take this course Queer Arts in Los Angeles. At very first I had thought this maybe a very tough course since I'm new to this city and also have no idea about it's profound arts let alone the Queer one. Surprisingly, it turns out very well. I have been introduced to several new skills so far including photoshop, poster designing, webpage designing, however what is most important and also meaningful to me is the way to appreciate queen arts, that is to say, to break through dominant ideas that limit and marginalize queer art, by creating a new concept of queer as a wider platform for excellence in arts, while daring to speak openly about the norms that constitute society and art practice. To me Queer art plays in the space of unreason. It is experimental. It is provocative. Suspicious. Queer art celebrates the failure to adhere to normative expectations and is pleased with itself as a conscious and exquisite transgression. Hence, queer art never fully arrives. It is always, disrupting, refusing, and resisting the ever-shifting power of normaltivity and dominance, in an effort to carve out more material, affective, and aesthetic space for anyone who is brave enough to want it. I still remembered that once in class I said that how brave and talented u guys are to express whatever u want in this artistic way. And two months has passed I am so impressed by the marvelous artworks you have done. I feel so lucky and happy to become one of the brave!

M.A.


During last week's class, the professor presented us to several artists. The one that caught my attention the most was the work of one of my classmates. I am not sure about their pgp's, so for this post I will address them as they/them/theirs.
I feel that their art is recognizable. The faces in many of their paintings are similar and the eyes seem to have a lot of detail. From what I've seen so far, they also incorporate a lot of color onto their work. As the professor recommend, I went into the Untitled coffee shop to see their work there and it was astonishing. It was a long strip in which he drew a calavera, a self-potrait, a corazon, and a woman amongst many other things. I stared at it a for a while and like mentioned before, the color was what stood out to me the most. I haven't seen enough of their work to determine what topics they focus on, but I really do hope I do.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Laura Aguilar



I first got introduced to Laura Aguilar's work last quarter during Alma Lopez's Chicana Art class. Ever since then I've had a really intimate and personal connection to them because, like a lot of other people do, we both struggle with our appearances to the point where it becomes an abysmal point in our lives. I love the way that she channels all of her emotional turmoil and self-prescribed hate into beautiful, serene imagery where she belongs completely to the world and the world belongs to her. Alma's point about Laura's memories of traveling to different areas with her mom and bringing back a souvenir every time, and that paralleling what she might want to happen to her; she wants someone to pick her up like the rocks she kept within those fond memories. Every time I see her work, I simultaneously feel depressed yet serene and at ease. She feels that the sun and the wind hug and caress her when no one else will, and I agree. There is such a tremendous sense of both comfort and dismay in knowing that one is really alone, whether that's within one's thoughts, out in society, etc. I think it serves as a reminder that we came from our mothers alone into this world, and often times, that's the way it also ends, nevertheless, you can always count on the sun shining down on your body, and the breeze caressing your skin without judgement.

Cristina Harton


I think the artist that one of our classmates presented was Cristina Harton. I really appreciated her different mediums of work while she stayed true to herself and her style. I felt like her pieces really told her story of her individuality and intersectionality. I love how blunt her work is, it shows that she is not afraid to be herself and show it to the rest of the world. I also love how her pieces are unexpected and they really keep you on edge. Her imagination is wild (and I say this in the best way possible obviously). 

Reflection of Last Lecture

   

One of the artists discussed in class presentations last lecture was A.L. Steiner. I had never heard of her work before and was really struck by her artistic style. In each of her portraits, she seems to call into question the role of female sexuality, in her own unique way. More than sexuality, her work comments on the politics of the body - something that I'm really passionate about and am thinking about in regards to our final project. Her photography that I've looked at has such an honest edge that it's almost a little shocking at first. However, upon looking at more and more images, I found that I was shocked because we're trained to look away from anything that discusses women's sexuality and to see it as grotesque and inappropriate. I like that she discusses women being women, and not needing an excuse for doing so. She asks us to call into question what we experience as normal, and to think about our own forms of self-expression. To me, her overt sexual expression in almost all of her pieces is an attempt to bring queerness into a place of normalcy and acceptance and a call to people, women specifically, to embrace their unique form of sexual expression.

Artist Reflection

I found that my classmates artists were all interesting and unique, but the one artist that has stuck with me since the discussion is my fellow classmate, who is working on two websites, one for himself and one for two female artists that he did a portrait of and showed to our class. I feel terrible for not catching his name and not being able to give proper credit where credit is due. I was inspired by his work and how much life, color and depth were put into his work. I love that someone left a sandwich by his installation, which just gives me some hope for humanity and how he was able to pay that love forward to someone really in need. Incredible work and I would love to pick his brain more and have him inspire some of my own work.

Reflection on Last Lecture

Last week's presentation on artists was interesting and appealing because of the focus of artists of color. My favorite was Jose Guadalupe Posada's satirical poster, Los 41 Maricones. I loved it because it is directly addressing and mocking the stereotypes associated with gay men. The bottom of the poster read "Muy Chulos y Coquetones" , which translates into "Very sexy and flirty" and I know that at the time, due to the political rule of Porfirio Diaz, the thought of publishing such a thing was as dangerous as it was controversial.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

700 Nimes Road

                


                       
                          

About two weeks ago, I took a trip to MOCA in West Hollywood to see Catherine Opie's "700 Nimes Road". I did not know the artist or what kind of work she created until the minute I stepped into the museum. For this particular exhibit, the artist Catherine Opie was invited to document Elizabeth Taylor's Los Angeles home. I have never been a fan of Elizabeth Taylor due to the fact that I don't know much about her,  but I fell in love with the idea of her as soon as I saw the photographs Catherine Opie chose to demonstrate in her exhibit. All of the photographs display a graceful femininity that I appreciate very much due to my own identity. I especially appreciated a set of photographs that seemed to be pictures of all the different types of garments hung in her closet. We see denim turn into red and pink silk and then thick fur coats and suede. Her accessories also caught my attention. She had tiaras and diamonds and jewels that didn't lose their shine even when captured through a lens. Her vanity and her shoes are also something that looks so simple because there are no extravagant colors, but there is beauty in that simplicity. I am actually happy that I went on to see this exhibit because I feel that when you see the entire thing, you can learn a few things about a person with just seeing their homes. Honestly its beautiful, the white walls and the wood floors flatter the photographs very appealing.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Changes

Hi everyone,
So originally I was going to do a recreation of Kissing Doesn't Kill but due to multiple set backs, I had to change the direction of it.
I'm happy to share this new poster because of all the last minute help I had from both my homie and my sister.
It is representative of my identity and my love for not just the city but my hometown in particular, K-town. The picture was taken at the intersection of third and normandie, which is where I spent many of my younger days.
Enjoy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

David Wojnarowicz


David Wojnarowicz's famous photo above made me Think directly to my knowledge of Ron Athey. After some googling, I came to learn that they were going just seven years apart and in different mediums were both pushing to create awareness and recognition of the AIDS epidemic. Wojnarowicz's photos express an intensity by altering the portriat of his own face wth the sowing of his mouth shut using needle and thread. Although all the footage from "Fire in my Belly" was shot by Wojnarowicz on his travels, the work presented in the form of a compilation video has a noticeably different tone then the body of work he is famous for. It was also interesting to hear about the controversy that surrounded the film, in the way that is focused on the image of a cross with ants crawling all over it. My first thought to what the social objection would be to Wojnarowicz work would be the video documentation of the self piercing process threading the string through his upper and lower lip. Body mutilation as an act was taboo to say the lease but the relgious right wing parties could clam hate-speech if it defaced the cross and could pushed towards censoring the film. The David Wojnarowicz contravery also started censorship marches in his name and his documentry was shown nationally. I'd love to explore his art practice.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hammer Museum: Catherine Opie - Extra Credit



These were just a few of the portraits featured in Catherine Opie's portraits exhibit at the Hammer Museum. As you can see, there's a certain similarity and uniformity to each portrait that almost makes you want to know about each person even more. Each portrait consists of either a rectangular or oval frame, with a black background and an illuminated face. Reading the pamphlet for the exhibit, it was interesting to find out that each individual was a personal friend of Opie's, each somehow involved in the arts. It seems to me that even though Opie knows each of her subjects intimately, she wanted their individual personalities to be rather masked, as each person has the same unknowable look. But at the same time, it is almost this blankness that invites the viewer to pause and stay for a moment with each image. The curator of the exhibit wrote about the way that our culture views a portrait, in the form of a selfie, with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Opie's portraits challenge the way that we look at portraiture, forcing one to consider what the representation in each image means. My favorite portrait is the one of performance artist Ron Athey, who is the man covered in tattoos. I felt as if his facial expression in combination with his appearance really challenges the viewer to attempt to enter and discover his world.

Friday, February 19, 2016

David Wojnarowicz

Fire in my Belly was one of the most unique films I've ever watched. It was both ambiguous but yet, very telling. Each scene was so beautifully crafted together, never staying on the same frame for too long. The scenes switched back and forth between sometimes horrific events and sometimes more subtle and ambiguous events. It was a representation of all human emotions.
I found some scenes hard to watch, but what he recorded was the reality of the world. The film touches on the reality of many cultural issues such as poverty, greed, man-made destruction and corruption, masculinity, and ultimately silence leading to death. The censorship of his work is just one of many examples where people prefer to be comfortable in their ignorance than shown the darkness of reality.
Silence = Death

David used art to be an activist. Sometimes the most telling story and most emotional reactions come from art. Art is such a powerful form of expression that it often speaks much louder than words. Being homosexual and having AIDS in the 80's was far from easy. People in power positions turned a blind eye to the exponentially rising documented cases of AIDS in the US, with thousands of reported deaths. Some people will look at David and think he was some sort of radical activist because of his unforgiving and relentless struggle in the fight against homophobia and AIDS awareness. But is there such thing as a sound person who is willing to face death with open arms? His art depicted darkness and chaos because that is what he and every other oppressed person felt. It's beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

David Wojnarowic



Words cannot express how astonished I was when I watched the movie" The fire in my belly"last Friday. It was like a montage, whose scenes though seems to be in chaos, the nonsensical humor or I say, the creation of a kind of strong irony can be felt profoundly. It seems like a sudden emotional outburst: anger, resentment, helplessness, desperation, pain... but when carefully retrospect, it is not difficult to find every scenes are actually planned and premeditated: beggars, slaughtered animals, displaced bodies and the crucified Jesus... and also the strong symbolism— ants were symbols of a human life mechanically driven by its own needs, heedless of anything else. Here they blindly swarm over an emblem of suffering and self-sacrifice.

I had never seen his artworks before, but I think I shall never forget him and his artworks for the whole life. A positive diagnosis for HIV in 1980s didn't leave you with many options: some turned to holistic medicine; Others to activism. Many just returned to their apartments, curled up in the corner, and waited to die. But some, like David Wojnarowicz, who died in 1992 at the age of 37, used art to keep a grip on the world. A bit of a loner, a bit crazy, ferociously brilliant and anarchic, he is the warrior of HIV, and also the warrior of arts.

I like him; I respect him.

David Wojnarowic


Upon researching David Wojnarowic's work and reading through all of the contributions he made towards Queer activism and AIDS awareness, I couldn't help noticing that his work utilizes a huge range of mediums and often hybridizes them in order to get his message across. Through exposing his most personal thought, he was able to expose many of the emotions and conflicting feelings that individuals of the queer community were anonymously going through together. Another element that I found very effective in his work is his toying with historical events that everyone seemingly knew about, and personalizing it according to his own stories, or those of other's he'd heard before. The raw intimacy that he allowed for viewers to have, the breadth of mediums he used to carry those messages, his relationship with time and place and event, and more importantly, his fearlessness in regards to defending and rejecting those who attempt to censor his creations are the characteristics that make him a heroic artist in the spectrum of revolutionary art, the queer movement, and the historical uprisings caused by AIDS

When We Were Outlaws Reflection

Once I started reading the book, I was thrown off, yet intrigued. Even with the first quote from the author's note, I knew this would soon envelope to be an interesting memoir, "I was not born knowing how to love. It came to me late in life and continues to be difficult. Politics on the other hand came naturally, my mind attuned from birth to the ways of power and survival."Although I admit that I was a little turned off by Jeanne's cocky attitude at one point, my opinion quickly changed. I then saw her as this empowered individual that advocated for herself and her community. What I love most about this novel so far is how the author shows the importance of intersectionality. As a queer female of color, I was able to relate on another level. These layers of oppression are shown through her experience, and yet she was still able to persevere.

David Wojnarowic reflection

It was an interesting experience watching David Wojnarowic's work on my own, it definitely had a disturbingly intimate feel to it. While I've always been keeping tabs on politics and activism surrounding the AIDS crisis, I'd never seen any of David's work. It was slightly disturbing to see the raw reality of AIDS but it was necessarily so. While perturbing, David collects and refines the uneasy elements of AIDS and puts them in more digestible forms for his audience to consume and reflect on later. The censoring of his work is reflective of homophobic views the American audience still holds even in an age such as 2010. Further, it's symbolical of the continuous medicalization of queerness and it's conflation with contagious and deadly diseases, an ideal in need of dismantling still.

When We Were Outlaws Reflection

To be honest, I never read the very beginning of any book because I rather just get into the meat of the work. When I opened When We Were Outlaws, however, I was interested in reading Jeanne's note because I could already feel like the note was really for us. The first line reads "I was not born knowing how to love. It came to me late in life and continues to be difficult. Politics on the other hand came naturally, my mind attuned from birth to the ways of power and survival" and as soon as I read that line, I felt every word of it sink deep into my body. Everything that I ever thought was strange about me , I realized was not so strange because there's people out there who feel just like I do. I think that the level of relatability of Cordova's book is what made it easy to read and really imagine ones self in her position.

David Wojnarowicz



David Wojnarowicz was leading intellectual force for the AIDS and queer activism groups in New York City. Incorporating many mediums, photography; video; collage; and performance; collaborating with other artists too, David sought to push the creative boundaries in activism art. David never ceased to leave out anything that was not personal, he incorporated many of his own personal history into his body of work. Thought his career, he never ceased to politically stand up and protect his art, nor redefined how far art can go within an institution that slightly "follows" the freedom to creatively express through appropriating sacred imagery. I applaud David Wojnarowicz role in his political activism in making art transparent and reflective of the AIDs crisis, also, pushing against religious institutions that called blasphemy on art using sacred imagery.

David Wojnarowicz Reflection

For the most part, art can be very ambitious and commonly subtle, in Wojnarowicz's case, he frankly did not care about making anyone feel comfortable or communicating anything other than his own message. As we watched "Fire in my Belly" in class, I felt kind of weary about keeping my eyes on the screen, but I could not get myself to look away. Although a lot of disturbing images were depicted, I was in awe at the raw expression of this artist. He expressed a lot of emotion unapologetically and I believe that in a way redefined art. Even though audiences did not respond positively, I don't think he expected them to. The AIDS epidemic had no mercy on its victims and I truly believe that Wojnarowicz was trying to communicate just that with his explicit images. He was an advocate for a cause that was overlooked and truly showed how deadly and disturbing this disease was and still is.
 

When We Were Outlaws Reflection

As I began to read "When We Were Outlaws", by Jeanne Cordova I did not know what to expect, but as soon as I read what it said on her dedication page, I knew I'd be able to personally connect to the reading. She dedicated the book to "[T]he queer youth of today whose activism now gives their elders so much pride". To me this was very touching due to the fact that queer folks are usually frowned upon by elders. Even though I do not know whom the author is specifically talking about, it is comforting to know that not everyone rejects us as human beings.

It was very intriguing to know that the author identified as a queer chicana feminist because she would be able to provide real experiences that queer woman of color usually have to deal with. She is such a radical woman and her dedication and passion for activism truly gives a reader a sense of her as a human being. We see her struggle with issues surrounding the Gay Community Service Center, but we also have the privilege to see her deal with a more personal situation throughout the memoir. Alongside her activism, Jeanne had to manage a monogamous relationship with her lover Rachel. Intersectionality is also revealed in the memoir since Cordova believes that the lesbian community had to in a way separate from the gay community in order to truly be represented. This made perfect sense to me since we are all aware that men and women are treated very distinctively. Her autobiography truly captures the reader and allows them to take a journey through every aspect of her life.

Class Discussion Reflection (2/12)

David Wojnarowicz Reflection 


Art can take many forms and also can be interrupted in many different ways. For many, "Fire In My Belly" was a dramatic wake up call to the AIDS epidemic occurring across the United States. Wojnarowicz used captivating visuals to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. In addition, the background music used in the short film further created suspense and anxiety in the viewer. Wojnarowicz wanted to bring attention to a cause and a movement that many people were ignoring. The recent removal of  Wojnarowicz's work in the Smithsonian is further proof that people still have not come to terms with the LGBT. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

David Wajnarowicz

What most intrigued me in discussion last Friday was the differentiation between art that screams in your face with a message, and art that is more subtle and conceptual in its message. That is not to say that art that is more subtle doesn't have as much weight or importance, or isn't dealing with critical issues. For example, the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres was brought up as an artist who deals with extremely painful, difficult, and controversial topics through subtlety and a sort of silence. The piece of his that touches me the most, and even almost brings me to tears every time I think of it is Untitled (Perfect Lovers). A simple gesture of placing two clocks side by side, knowing that one of them will stop ticking before the other, or go out of sync with one another, sends such a strong message to the nature and inescapable reality of life (and death). On the other hand, an artist such as David Wajnarowicz makes art that affects the viewer directly in terms of confronting them with visual strength as well as a powerful content. His piece Untitled (Peter Hujar) is an example of that, a portrait that David shot of his friend right upon his death. This piece is a direct portrayal of the reality of AIDS, and is extremely painful to look at and to think about. It is quite haunting, and affects one on multiple levels. I think that it is important that works on both opposing sides of the scale continue to be made, some reaching out at you right away, and some reaching out at you more quietly and slowly, because there are so many different ways to deliver a message. 


Reaction to Censorship and Artistic Freedom

In response to the image presented by David Wojnarowicz, I was immediately able to see where the shock came from as a spectator of his work. Initially, the video that we watched, "Fire In My Belly," inspired a good deal of anxiety as I watched. Yet, at the same time, it was absolutely fascinating. The combination of sound that was played in conjunction with the powerful images were likely intended to make the audience uncomfortable and try to get them to feel some type of angst (and perhaps inspire a burning in their belly?). Naturally, the criticisms came, as they always do, and manifested in the form of both threats of financial pressure and religious censorship. The fact that such a powerful piece of art that did its job so well had to be censored because of an inadvertent understanding is disappointing. I believe the art piece was strong and showed what Wojnarowicz could do.

Reaction To Class Discussion


Last week’s class was rejuvenating because it was all about rebellious artists who were and are not afraid to bring their visions to life. While they may or may not identify as rebellious, just living your truth is a rebellious radical act in itself. My favorite work was the short film that David Wojnarowicz produced. I loved the video because of it’s shocking and visually stimulating nature. It was an unapologetic expression of pain,anger, and disappointment at the condition of life that people with AIDS had and continue to have live under. I speculate that the reason why it was so controversial had nothing to do with the “blasphemous” imagery and more so what feelings this film brought out in the audience. The pain perhaps, was too raw to handle but it is a necessary pain that the public needs to see. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Reaction to Class Discussion

I found the self portrait to be shocking and haunting. Like one of my classmates said, if your're not doing something shocking to have people discussing your art, then what are you doing as an artist? There was a similar picture that it made me think of Christina Aguilera back in the early 00's of her mouth being sewn shut, but it is definitely more high fashion and meant to be striking on because of her beauty first and then her mouth sewn shut. The original campaign that Christina was representing was for the "Declare Yourself" Campaign: "Ending Violence Against Women", which featured many celebrities such as Andre 3000 and Amber Tamblyn all with something concealing or blocking their mouths from being able to express themselves, each person crying. The declaration is "Only You Can Silence Yourself, each object is something that best represents the celebrity, stating that they are doing this to themselves which the audience can read as regret because of the tears. I get the sense that the image that we were shown in class was very unapologetic and matter of fact. He was not doing it to himself and did not allow for escape from his gaze. There a stripping of anything distracting for the audience to focus on rather than the statement that the artist was trying to make. With your mouth sewn shut, you are unable to eat, let alone survive, rendering you silent is a way of submissively killing yourself.

Monday, February 15, 2016

When We Were Outlaws Reflection

This memoir flowed like a novel, but I felt like I learned a lot about the feminist and lesbian movements in the 1970s through personal relationships and the interviews/work Cordova does.

For me gay movement is like one of the most beautiful pieces of the "Kaleidoscope-like" 1970s. The book is subtitled "Love and Revolution" for good reason - consistently throughout the memoir Cordova relates her struggle to balance her relationship with her political activism.  Intertwined within the historical and political facts presented in "Outlaws" is the personal, in which Cordova recounts how the multiple (and sometimes contradictory) ideologies of the time affected the lives of herself, her mentors, and her friends/lovers. An incredibly important addition to the body of work that goes behind-the-scenes to share the story of the LGBT movement in Los Angeles. 

As Cordova dedicates the book to"[T]he queer youth of today whose activism now gives their elders so much pride." 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Artist Reflection: David Wojnarowicz

After watching "A Fire in My Belly" in class, I was really intrigued by David Wojnarowicz's work. I love how unapologetic his work was, each piece having some kind of statement that he felt needed to be made. From what we talked about in class, and what I have since learned in doing some reading on my own, his artwork took a severe turn once he was diagnosed with AIDS. His pieces became far more political with the intent of stirring debate in order to engage conversations about medical research, art funding, and censorship of the arts. It seems that each of his pieces, both before and after his diagnoses, were made with the intent of pushing the envelope. I loved that "A Fire in My Belly" was so provocative and almost alarming that you just couldn't look away. It wraps the viewer in and forces them to find their own meaning through making sense of and connecting the images for themselves. In doing some research outside of class, I came across one of his last videos, titled "Beautiful People." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6BvCaTpaAw) It shows one of the male members of the band that Wojnarcowicz was in, as he gets up in the morning and transforms himself into a female. The tone of the video urges acceptance and a sense of contentedness, putting forth a symbol of dual identity that provokes the audience to redefine gender expectations - very much like most of his other work.

Friday, February 12, 2016

When We Were Outlaws

Reading this book really gives me an appreciation for Gay LA. It puts all the history we learned about it Gay LA into perspective and helps give a much better understanding. Reading Cordova's personal experience of being part of the underground lesbian, feminist radicalism was fascinating. I love how intimate this book is, and not only do you get a sense of history like you did in Gay LA, you can actually feel it through the perspective of someone who lived through it and actively participated. I loved learning all the little details about Cordova, from her intimate relationships with BeJo and reasoning for her preference of non-monogamy, to seeing how she confronts day to day lesbian feminist experiences. Learning about her own history with her family was also really cool, and gave even more perspective of how she has evolved as a woman. I can't wait to read on and learn more.

When We Were Outlaws Reflection

Julienne's blog post this week took me back to GAY L.A. the accounts of women "masquerading" as men in historical Los Angeles, and the case of one women who was able to convince a jury that they were just a man in a woman's body, and the case was let go. Also, the focus police had on gay drag queens during the time of entrapment and police brutality in the raids of gay bars. The history tells the tail of the hierarchy of hegemonic masculinity over emphasized femininity. Jean Cordova's When We Were Outlaws brings to light this challenge to normality and normalized life practice that historicized action taken against passing and assimilation. It also brought some alternate perspective to the GAY L.A. depiction of Hollywood, in which Cordova emphasizes the sense of hiding and self-shaming involved in the era. Her emphasis on the importance of lesbians creating their own infrastructure nd community makes me think of a recent conversation I had about Malcolm X, and how he preached for organization by and solely for African Americans.
In my own life, the discovery of the word queer and it's radical potential to establish a new location beyond normalized practice always intrigued me and I feel that Cordova embodies that notion of queer that I hold so personally. It is very clear that Cordova not only establishes herself as an activist but as a community builder, and by doing so played a role in the "gay" movement and/or lesbian movement by having the voice to be radical and inspiring by taken the steps many were too scared to approach.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Poster Project Discussion



As I started my project, I was thinking a lot about what constitutes female empowerment. For me, a huge part of that is body image. I started looking up images and came across the image of the woman - except she had black lines for censorship where there are now flowers. I began to think about what was so "bad" about her body that the image needed two black bars added to it. In adding the flowers, I was hoping to in essence replace those harsh lines with something beautiful - telling her she was beautiful. I love that she's eating a burger and has her hand on her hip, it really conveys both confidence and a "screw you" attitude. The image on her upper leg is a symbol of female, feminist empowerment. All of the images behind her are the covers of many magazines - all body shaming in one way or another. If the media always has a critique, whether it be that these stars are way too skinny or way too fat, how are we supposed to be able to ever love ourselves? So this image is showing that despite the censorship and despite the constant critique, we can learn to be happy with who we are - and that it's really important to do so.

When We Were Outlaws Reflection

When reading When We Were Outlaws, I really appreciated reading a text that was strongly from the point of view of a woman, in particular a lesbian feminist activist. I was interested in learning more about the issues in between the lesbian feminists and the Gay Community Service Center, and through that, the women's liberation movement. When reading the previous text, Gay L.A., the sections from that that I was most drawn to were the ones about the lesbian community, and how they felt in relation to the larger picture of the LGBT revolution. Cordova's When We Were Outlaws definitely brings us back to those issues, and how women felt larger over-spoken for, or not as spoken for in the revolution. Growing up, I feel as if a lot has been left out in my education of the history of the LGBT community and revolution, in particular the stories of women. I realized when reading both of these texts that I didn't know as much about lesbians within the history as I did about other figures. It seems as if there has always been an emphasis on gay rather than lesbian. I was also inspired by how brave Cordova was, and all that she went through. It made me wonder about my role in the world today, and how activism is taking place nowadays. I additionally appreciated how intimate the text was, and how I felt connected to Cordova when reading this, all the while looking up to her and admiring her bravery and strength. 

When We Were Outlaws - Reflection

I really like what Allie said in her last post, that in her novel, Jeanne Córdova "brings a sense of nostalgia for a time when radicalism was the norm amongst marginalized people." What stood out to me the most while reading her memoir was how willing and ready she and her comrades were to give and devote everything to their cause. The nostalgia that comes when reading is due to feeling her passion conveyed through the words on every page - a passion that is seemingly lacking nowadays. Córdova talks about the Hollywood Hills being 'a large gay closet,' explaining their drive coming from "a lifetime of hiding and sexual denial to make up for" (58). One event that stood out to me in her memoir was the march that she organized with Morris Knight. They were at first denied the right to march by the LA Police Chief, who said that "It's one thing to be a leper; it's another thing to be spreading the disease" (46). This alone was shocking to me; that a person in a position of power could get away with saying that is alarming. After they finally got the right to march, they began planning the route they would take. Reading the names of the streets they would take, Highland, Hollywood Boulevard, Vine, all streets that I've been on, brought a sense of reality to the words I was reading. As Jeanne described the march, she observed something that brought tears to her eyes, as well as mine. In the midst of the madness, she saw an elderly woman holding a sign that read: "Heterosexuals for Homosexual Freedom" (51). She noted her wish that sometime within her lifetime, gays would be free. Now living in LA, this scene made me compare the scene today versus then. I question our lack of activism. I felt that Córdova's memoir was largely based around something she said early on in the novel: "Besides, my life was about rearranging the very definition of normal...normal was not a good reason to do anything" (34). I think this is something we can all take away from the book. If we all suddenly became aware of and uncomfortable with the normal, maybe we would develop the passion that she and the generations before us possessed.

Turning into Cordova, Reflection

We Were Outlaws, a memoir of love and a radical fight for civil rights, written by Jeanne Cordova, reflects her triumphs and struggles during 1970's. The book reflects her political savviness and turbulence in developing a community of lesbian feminists. The collective memories focus on love, civil unrest, a leftist nazi, and the banishment from the Gay Community Service Center. Cordova's memoir is a page turner, as reading her history, we skim to the importance of her revolution of trying to maintain her own ideology of feminism, whilst struggle to manage a her monogamous love affair with Rachel. There are cameos with famous political activists, such as Angela Davis. But focusing on the importance of Cordova writing to illustrate a time of social upheaval against their gay brothers and the watchful eye of the Nixon Administration. She stated, that her and her lesbian and feminists comrades needed to be split from the gay community in order to establish a community and philosophy that focused and worked for them. Reading her passages provide a vividly surreal anxiety, wanting Cordova relationships to flourish and her push against social injustice to be stomped out. Her will to lead lesbians and feminists to a haven of hope and prosperity in the smoggy sunshine city of Los Angeles leaves us to read each chapter from her stance. Cognitively and physically embodying Cordova in the radical 1970s'.

When We Were Outlaws Reflections

      At first glance, When We Were Outlaws reads more as a novel, it's almost unreal skimming over Jeanne Cordova's words as she relays her memories of the Tanya Harding scandal. This probably has something to do with collective amnesia, and becoming detached from a history I was not a part of. Jean has a way of making her life seem like something out of a movie script, especially with her role in underground radical newspapers, housing people on the run, and her multiple lovers in her non-monogamous relationship with BeJo. Reading When We Were Outlaws inspires a sense of radicalism, especially when cameos such as Angela Davis popping in and out, leaving the audience with a sense of inadequacy with her strict radicalist ideology (Such as alt. sexual orientations being bourgeoise).
    When We Were Outlaws inspires a sense of activism, seeing Jean Cordova constantly on the run towards injustice. Her involvement in multiple sects of social justice brings a sense of nostalgia for a time when radicalism was the norm amongst marginalized people. She captured the last of the radicals in her novel, smack dab in the middle of two eras as she so eloquently described in the first couple chapters. Her autobiography leaves its audience enamored with her radical politics and quick wit in writing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Activist Poster Project Idea: Release

  The main image comes from an artist that i found on instagram oddly. All of her work has to do with empowerment and are simple while also very powerful. I added in the other images of the different women crying and looking sad in the womb of the main women in a sense to being the ultimate releaser of the issues and inequalities that plague women.

Artist Project: K8 Hardy

 The artist I chose is K8 Hardy. The first time I saw her work was when I was living in NYC and visited the Whitney. Her work was being displayed and I felt a sense of empowerment from viewing her image. I later found out that she puts herself in her images and performance pieces to speak on the notion that men objectify women in art. K8 also does not stick to one type of art. She does multimedia, performance, painting etc. art that really also caught my attention because she has branched out not only as an artist but as a female artist.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Poster Idea



  I've been contemplating on what to do for the poster project and I'm pulling a lot of inspiration from Gran Fury's poster because of how beautiful it is. It represents three different unions of love and each couple is "unconventional". While the poster represents a diverse group of people, it addresses corporations and authorities, asking them to take accountability for their negligent attitude about AIDS and HIV. I hope to recreate a similar image and direct it towards the same people Gran Fury did because those same people are still holding major control over public health and their negligent, homophobic attitudes toward illnesses such as HIV has been the direct cause of death for so many.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Gender Definition Poster

This is a rough draft of the poster I worked on. The theme is gender and its definition. I have incorporated the background as one of the landscape works by my artist Wes Hempel. It is a wide prairie with amorphous storm clouds in the sky, unsure of whether it is a storm, but peaceful nonetheless. In the foreground, I have layered multicolored stencil-esque images of Angels. I chose to put angels in the picture because as spiritual beings of light, they were never classified as male or female. Historically, this was changed as artists gave them a sex. Ultimately, I want to express that gender is not something that can be easily defined, that it isn't always as socially practical, and we can disregard it in order to establish respect/acceptance.

Artist Project: Jeff Sheng


The artist I've chosen for my project is photographer, Jeff Sheng. He has done several series, with the photograph on the left being apart of the one that gained him recognition. Called the "Fearless Project," Sheng photographed college athletes who identify as LGBT. The photo on the right belongs to a series called "Don't Ask Don't Tell," which includes images of 80 closeted service members. I really like Sheng's work because he uses his talent to shine a light on very important social issues using everyday people.