“I would like to see the presence of art more in Pride,” says classical pianist Rachel Iwaasa. “A large percentage of people looked up to by the [LGBT] community are artists.”
Iwaasa is a member of Pride in Art, which hosted its annual art exhibition at the Roundhouse Community Centre during Pride Week. This year’s exhibit, entitled Joy Along the Continuum, featured opening night performances by Queering the Night and Jodaiko.
The show was pulled together in only three months, but Pride in Art is already planning something larger for 2007.
“Next year,” says Pride in Art treasurer Cathy Atkins, “we want something going on every night.”
The organizers want the 2007 exhibition to include theatre space so they can offer readings, music, dance and performance art. They also want to exhibit a larger collection of visual arts pieces.
Funding is, of course, always an issue. This year, the money came from members of Queering the Night, some other small donations and from the artists’ submission fees. Pride in Art hopes to receive a grant for next year’s exhibition that will allow them to pay for the larger, more accessible venue they want.
“Why aren’t bigger players, like the Vancouver Art Gallery, exhibiting queer artwork?” asks artist Amy Nugent. “It needs to start branching out and being celebrated.”
Perhaps Pride in Art’s refusal to turn down or censor any artwork is what keeps Nugent so motivated, but she still feels more queer art should be exhibited, and not just once a year.
“[More exhibitions] would be an amazing opportunity for artists to raise the bar. You can have a lot of fun and build a lot of spirit through art exhibits,” says Nugent.
Her enthusiasm is evident in her work. Her submission “Joy Along the Continuum” (the same title as the exhibition) is a three-part piece composed of 49 Polaroid photos of women activists. Its optimistic, cross-generational representation of people of all walks of life perhaps best symbolizes the exhibition’s inclusivity.
Anh Tuan Luu’s photographs, including “People are flowers of the land” and “Angels,” approached diversity and humanity from an equally joyful perspective, while the raw, arguably darker work of artists Kari Kristensen and Vasi Petoussis provided breathtaking contrast.
Probably the queerest and most notable work came from Sarah Race, whose spectacularly coloured set of nine photographs is redolent of the work of David LaChappelle. The beautiful images of lesbians and drag kings and queens are hilarious, visceral, emotive and stupendous.
The show was not curated, and went unjuried by Pride in Art. One would hope that if it were to be augmented in future years, the liberal attitude taken in organizing it would remain intact.
Pride in Art’s consensus to create a show based on their intuitive broad-mindedness would be staggering if appropriated on a bigger scale. As Amy Nugent puts it: “If someone is confident enough to follow their gut feeling, and do so ethically, they will always get to the heart of the matter, and they will always end up with a solid, finished product.”