Being whom you want to be is one thing. Having others see you that way is another.
“The Self, Realized: Queering the Art of Self-Portraiture” is a new group show at the Brew House Association featuring 14 artists who identify as LGBTQ+. Curator Hannah Turpin, who specializes in feminist discourse and queer representation, says the idea is to expand the way LGBTQ people are portrayed.
“In everyday media, queerness is often prescribed to certain tropes, or maybe hyper attention on sexuality or bodies,” she says. Part of the problem is “our traditional understanding of self-portraiture as something that depicts a face, or a body, [which] could perhaps be exclusionary or narrow toward queer identities that maybe need to expand beyond those notions.”
The work in “The Self, Realized” includes abstract sculpture, video and installations.
Turpin is the curatorial assistant for contemporary art and photography at the Carnegie Museum of Art, but she’s also an emerging independent curator. “The Self, Realized” is the first project for Prospectus, a new initiative at the nonprofit Brew House Association to develop curatorial talent.
Jen Cooney offers a living-room-style installation populated by soft-sculptural figures. Ginger Brooks Takahashi’s "Untitled Self Portrait (Place to be)" is a pair of disembodied legs walking across a surreal seesaw. Mikael Owunna presents a novel photography-based work.
“It depicts his body, his figurative form, but it’s printed on aluminum and it’s this beautiful circular shape, making it reminiscent of a portal, and its very reflective,” Turpin says, “and so it becomes almost like a mirror, a reflection of yourself into this space where the artist has covered his naked body with fluorescent paint, and then through a shooting process has black lights, it becomes illuminated within ranges of whites, greens, purples, pinks. Almost this galaxy imprinted on his form.”
“It’s a way to sort of come to terms with his own experience as a queer person, as a black person, who has gone through various transformations in his life, challenges, traumas, and finding a way to sort of celebrate where he is at this point and come to a peaceful understanding of who he is and how he identifies in this world,” she adds.
Other artists in the show include Paper Buck, Brendon Hawkins, Corrine Jasmin, Summer Jade Leavitt, Adam Milner, Cupid Ojala, Nikolai Peacock, Jairan Sadeghi, Shikeith, Sam Thorp and Curtis Welteroth.
The show opens with a free reception 5-8 p.m. Thursday. The Brew House Association gallery is located on the South Side.
The show runs through Feb. 9. The Prospectus series continues with “This is Not Romantic,” a three-artist show curated by Dana Bishop-Root.