When cultural identity is expressed artistically, with truth and depth, the resultant work is unique and diverse in style and expression.
The new art exhibit at the William Way LGBT Community Center features three artists who perfectly exemplify this. Titled “Queer-Americans: Who We Are,” the exhibit opened July 12 and features Amy Martin, alcotó and Kelly McQuain.
All three artists possess an assertive and individual style of expression surrounding Queer-American identities, ranging from gender politics and intimate portraiture to vibrant abstraction.
Martin is the most direct about her agenda, unapologetically declaring her queer femme vision in paintings and drawings. Her depictions of queer femme tropes are both spare and elegant, with a quirky sense of humor that humanizes and universalizes her subjects.
As an abstract artist, alcotó is perhaps most challenging of the three featured artists. As is often the case with abstract work, the viewer’s initial reaction to alcotó could be one of confusion or bewilderment. But like any challenging or new form of art, further contemplation can yield remarkable insights, as alcotó’s work is multi-layered and comes from “an inclusive process of discovery and invention,” according to William Way.
Perhaps the most accessible and relatable work in the exhibit is that of McQuain.
“McQuain presents painted narratives addressing our hope and despair about our relationships with technology, nature and each other,” says a press release. This is a superfluous way of saying that McQuain focuses on how one relates to the world outside of oneself.
McQuain is also a poet and illustrator, and his portraits are effective at communicating his subject’s narrative, and he capitalizes on an innate ability to convey subtle expressions that tell a viewer unspoken stories.
The curators at William Way Community Center have a profound understanding of the purpose of art in an LGBTQ context and in this exhibit have found talented, diverse artists, both established and emergent.
Once again, the Community Center has uncovered three queer Americans whose collective artistic voices are worth hearing.
Queer-Americans: Who We Are is on display through August 30 at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.