The School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design has a rich 2SLGBTQIA community. We pride ourselves as a place where students can find their community; where they can express themselves fully, and be loved by their friends, peers and mentors for it. The 2020-21 school year was a reflection of this, our time spent in isolation forced us to reflect on our place in this strange existence, to care for ourselves, care for those who live in the margins, and it reminded us that anything we create can be a form of protest.
Here is some of the cool queer art that AMPD community members made this year. Throughout the month we will be adding to this list.
Sophie Dow (centre) in Medicine Duets
Sophie Dow (BFA 2019) is a queer and indigenous dance and music artist. Inspired by their Métis-Assiniboine roots, and in dialogue with Elders and Knowledge Keepers, Dow created Medicine Duets, a dance film that will screen at Buddies in Bad Times on June 24th as part of their “2-Spirit Cabaret”.
“The initial seed idea for a dance piece came to me while meditating at the base of one of those mountain in the Kootenays. I was learning a lot about Ancestors at the time and had this vision of these ancestral archetypes crawling up from tunnels beneath the mountains, all the way to the peak as a means of sharing some of the wisdom that mountains have to teach us.”
In the interview, Dow details their learning experiences, and how queerness and indigeneity have taken on greater weight in their work over time.
Screenshot from passively, possibly
Jan Ly, a 4th year Design student, created passively, possibly, a downloadable .zip file that publishes a series of crowd-submitted queer objects to the user’s desktop using 3D scanning technology. Through the project, Ly wanted to create his own tribute to queer spaces of communion and resistance, while exploring alternative ways of publishing digital collections.
“Queerness finds its form through ephemera — it is the sticky residue of the stories we tell each other, and the moments we commit to memory. So, what is it that we keep, display, or hide; what are the objects or things that lie around in our memories and spaces that remind us of our queerness?”
– Jan Ly
The result is a fascinating glimpse into the memories of varied LGBTQ+ experiences; both anecdotally through written accounts of love, awakening and resilience, and aesthetically through the ephemeral and incomplete appearance that these 3D-scanned objects inhabit.
STAR Leaves York U with a “G.A.Y” Song
Joshua Hughes just finished his 4th year in the York University Theatre program and is graduating in June. For this multifaceted performer, York University is a special place because it is where he started performing in drag as STAR.
“I love how accepting York Theatre has been for the LGBTQ+ community and making myself feel safe in my space. I really enjoy that queer people like myself feel comfortable to be authentic”
Recently STAR had her final performance as a York U student in the Devised Theatre Festival, where she performed a song about coming out. The song “G.A.Y” was inspired by Hughes’ personal experience and was meant to be an anthem for queer people everywhere.
Still from Unspoken Space
Like many AMPD students, Jacob Robert was presented with many challenges while completing his 2nd year as a film production student during a pandemic. Robert decided to use what was available to him and create an alternative film as a solo filmmaker. His final creation was Unspoken Space, a deeply personal film that encapsulates how external parties play an interlocutor role in the coming out process.
“The moment a queer person verbalizes their sexuality to those around them, an immediate gap forms between queer person and their interlocutor. What cannot be predicted is the depth and breadth of that space: that is ultimately contingent upon the interlocutor’s level of comfort and acceptance towards homosexuality.”
– Jacob Robert
Unspoken Space premiered at the Finish Line Festival in April. Robert credits contemporary filmmakers like David Lynch, Agnès Varda and Xavier Dolan as influences, as well as surrealist artists like Salvador Dalì and René Magritte for its visual style.
Inspiring Self-Love in Arts Education
Sonia Cara just graduated York University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts. She has a background in Early Childhood Education, and will be furthering her education at Brock University this fall to complete her Bachelor of Education.
“Queer culture and community have been my seed of growing within the art world… I look forward to studying to be an elementary teacher and to dedicate myself to helping young students discover the beauty of learning about themselves and the world they live in.”
– Sonia Cara
A multimedia artist, Cara’s work centres on the ideas of transformation and growth through feminine and masculine energies. She is inspired by the artist Johanna Toruno, and credits her mentor Naz Rahbar (MFA 2019) for shaping her into the artist she is today, as she looks to shape the next generation of queer artists.
The Identity of Pleasure
Still from The Identity of Pleasure
In 2021, three roomates created a short experimental film for their course FILM 3812: Queer Cinema. For Nikolas Papastathopoulos, Natalia Morales Caceres and Emily Ishikawa, the inspiration to create The Identity of Pleasure came out of a necessity to express queerness and queer bodies as a political statement.
“Even something as small as holding your partner’s hand, or dressing and acting a certain way that doesn’t adhere to heteronormativity, feels like a political statement because society views it as one.”
– Nikolas Papastathopoulos
We interviewed Papastathopoulos about their inspiration and influences for the experimental short.
Political and Personal Exhibition at the Flint Institute of Arts
Political & Personal exhibition at the Flint Institute of Arts
Support provided by the IFPDA Foundation
As part of his research, Doctoral Student Eric Birkle curated a museum exhibition at the Flint Institute of Arts called Political and Personal: Images of Gay Identity. The exhibition is currently running until July 11th, 2021.
“I think that in order to know where we’re going – both in terms of political activism and as a community more generally – we need to know where we’ve come from. Works of art like those on display in Political and Personal: Images of Gay Identity enliven the history of both our shared struggles and our mutual affections.”
– Eric Birkle
Political and Personal features selections from the Jack B. Pierson Print Collection; a collection that contains visual works from 404 artists and encompasses a vast representation of gay identity in the 20th century.