Pride Month kicks off with the Queer Art exhibition

The Multipurpose Room of the Trotter Multicultural Center was lined with art Tuesday evening to celebrate Queer artistic expression. The University of Michigan’s Spectrum Center hosted an exhibition on April 2 for Queer artists to express themselves through mediums such as literature, paintings and sculptures. Spectrum Center program board members organized the event in collaboration with other organizations including the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and the Rackham Graduate School. The Arts Initiative and the School of Music, Theater and Dance sponsored the event. Guests also had the opportunity to contribute to the art world at a craft station.

The theme of the event was “Colour in the Gaps”, a message to show that artistic expression and Queer identities have no limits. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, LSA freshman Noemie Durand, a program board member, said the theme was chosen to celebrate a variety of creative works.

“We have a 16-page story, we have poems, we have two sculptures, we have regular paintings, we have digital paintings, we have a bunch of different things,” Durand said. “The idea is that queer people should have a space to share their artwork and feel like they have a voice.”

LSA senior Leo Velasco presented his creative writing “Asi Fue,” which is a work of fiction that deals with elements of gender identity. Velasco said the exhibit was an opportunity for Queer artists to share their ideas and celebrate each other.

“Events like these can really help lift up all voices and show other unique perspectives,” Velasco said. “All these different identities have different stories to share and they are all equally valid and equally deserving of being heard. It’s always nice to see other people’s art and give other artists a chance to showcase their work.”

Durand said the program board had two goals in mind when planning the event: to help inspire creativity among viewers and to celebrate the joy of being Queer.

“A lot of times being Queer can be difficult and there’s a lot of questions that happen or discrimination or difficult conversations with family, so I think I have time specifically to find joy in being Queer and joy in that community and in the things that can come from it, I think are really important,” said Durand. “I also hope that people find inspiration in things like everyday life, how you can create art all the time, anything can to be art.”

Engineering freshman Keating Dinsmore presented mixed media work. In an interview with The Daily, Dinsmore said the project reflects the pressures she has faced as a Queer individual.

“I took a circle canvas and covered it with air dry clay and made iridescent pearl studs and moss on it,” Dinsmore said. “In the middle there is a black hole inside which I filled with an all black and white collage. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula where I came out as Queer and it was a pretty conservative area so I always felt the pressure of everyone’s religion on me and it was like I was falling into a deep hole and every time I tried to climb out, it hurts, which means spikes.”

Nursing sophomore Chazia Siskowski created acrylic artwork, one of which was a self-portrait meant to capture the duality of her mental health. Siskowski said this portrait highlights her self-image and state of mind.

“(The portrait is) pretty much how I perceive myself,” Siskowski said. “I think there’s no art without diversity and without being able to just express yourself and not feel like there’s a wall I have to put up or a box I have to put in to show my creativity.”

In an interview with The Daily, Rackham student Sharmane Powell said they loved seeing people being able to express themselves without limits.

“All the artwork is super immersive,” Powell said. “I asked artists about their interpretations of the work and it’s very interdisciplinary, very emotional and I love it; everyone’s art is great. When I think of diversity in art, I think of the pride flag. It’s a spectrum of colors, and that spectrum of colors should be reflected in the art world and not be limited, because people are not limited in their expressions.”

Daily Staff Reporter Audrey Shabelski can be reached at [email protected].

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