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Queer Artists in Their Own Words: Sarah Zapata Wants an Anti-Hero Society

LGBTQ Pride Month is now. Every day in June, we are celebrating the community by featuring one queer artist and letting them speak for themselves.

The month of June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community and reflect on the advances of queer people to strengthen civil liberties around the world, even in a moment of great political uncertainty. It’s also a good opportunity to spotlight the richness and diversity of culture we have within the community. Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one contemporary queer artist per day on the website and letting them speak for themselves. Click here to participate.

Installation from MoMA PS1 (2018) (image courtesy the artist)

Sarah Zapata

Age: 30

Location: Brooklyn

Artistic Medium: Textiles, Installation, Erotica

Who are you and what do you do?

I make work with labor-intensive processes such as hand-weaving, rope-coiling, latch-hooking, and sewing by intersecting theories of gender and ethnicity with precolonial histories and techniques. Making work with meditative, mechanical means, the current work deals with the multiple facets of my complex identity: a Texan living in Brooklyn; a lesbian raised as an evangelical Christian; a first generation American of Latin American descent; a contemporary artist inspired by ancient civilizations; and an artist challenging the history of craft as “women’s work” within the realm of art. Right now, I’m working a new large-scale installation that explores collective delusion relating to space. It opens at Performance Space New York this fall.

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

Time, tradition, and the untraditional.

Describe your coffee order.

Black.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Everyday being here in my life! I feel very thankful.

What constitutes a perfect day?

Waking up with Debussy, working out, a beautiful walk through the city listening to Babyface (those internal movie moments), reading and working in my studio with WBLS on, and ending with some glasses of Malbec and an exciting email I won’t answer for a few days.   

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano LA — though I missed the show when it was in New York, the catalogue has been an incredible resource.

What would your superpower be if you had one?

The ability to time travel.

Tell us a lie about yourself.

I’m not nervous all the time.

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

The continuing and severe deterioration of fact; it’s alleged malleability.

What did you make when you first started making art?

My first painting as a child was of a relationship between a rat and a butterfly.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

I prefer being a silent observer

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

Paracas textiles, particularly mummy bundles, and Frederic Edwin Church’s “The Icebergs” (1861). This painting was my first exposure to art as it was on permanent display at the Dallas Museum of Art. It embodies the fallacies I remember about Texas and further testifies to the United States: endless resource and space, manifest destiny, and the exclusion of the individuals who have been here the entire time.

What are your plans for pride month?

Hoping to make it to the book launch of Duets: Kia LaBeija & Julie Tolentino in Conversation followed by Clit Club at Performance Space, the Dyke March, wine teeth, perhaps a rainbow outfit?

What is the future of queerness?

An anti-hero society.

Back in my day…

I had yet to find the understanding of my experience and was desperately waiting for life to start.

Name one guilty pleasure.

I’m a huge fan of the Golden Girls. As for me, I identify as a Blanche, Dorothy rising.

Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?

New York has much opportunity for queer individuals, but it will never be sufficient.

How do you stay cool during the summer?

A lot of fans and frozen berries.

What is your favorite type of milk?

Milkweed.

“Queer Artists in Their Own Words” is an ongoing feature happening every day in the month of June. For prior posts in the series, please click here.

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