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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.
Age: 42, how is that even possible?
Location: San Francisco
Artistic Medium: Jewelry, Objects, Sculpture
Who are you and what do you do?
What I make isn’t what people expect when they hear “jewelry.” The pieces are my attempt to capture space, frame that space, and then invite a person into the space. Really, they are interactive line drawings. They don’t make sense until there is a push-pull between the created boundary and the body.
Like most queers, I had to find my own space, create then define my identity, and fight for my boundaries to be seen and respected. This happened while simultaneously recognizing that each discovery and definition is a step into and towards a new possibility, so rigidity wasn’t going to work. My work reflects my experience with identity as flexible and uniquely mine, but also shared with a community of fierce, exploratory, boundary-questioning queers.
What are the top three greatest influences on your work?
The spaces within and between architecture, reading (especially science fiction, fantasy, and afrofuturism), and conversations with queer friends and chosen family.
Describe your coffee order.
A pour over made at home in my slippers. A seven-dollar coffee just pisses me off.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Waking up early on Sunday mornings to go to a twelve-step meeting that focuses on establishing and maintaining boundaries.
What constitutes a perfect day?
One kind of perfect day is laying in a hammock in the shade with my girlfriend in Golden Gate Park, doing nothing. Another would be one of those days in the studio where the material, my hands, and my thoughts are all in perfect sync and things fall together in unexpected and beautiful ways.
What was your favorite exhibition from last year?
Sarah Lucus: Au Naturel at the New Museum
What would your superpower be if you had one?
Emanating calm like a sonic wave across great distances, like sending out a sonic boom of self-worth and healing. That is some West Coast hippie ass shit, but that’s what I want.
Tell us a lie about yourself.
I’m a happy go-lucky type of queer.
What is one question you wish somebody would ask about your work?
What is the danger of space?
What is the greatest threat to humanity?
What did you make when you first started making art?
I made containers — my attempt to create and capture space goes way back — and a series of wearable, forged fetish objects inspired by medieval torture devices.
Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?
Meh, I’m just not that gay.
What is your all-time favorite work of art?
Still looking for it.
What are your plans for pride month?
Usually I host a brunch at my studio before Dyke March, but this year my studio is a disaster of exhibition preparation. I’m feeling deprived and grateful at the same time.
Back in my day…
As a pissed-off and searching high school student, I would sit for hours at the now-defunct Little Frida’s lesbian cafe in Los Angeles, a place similar to The Planet in the L-Word, in hope that some hot woman would explain the world to me, preferably without words. Alas, that never happened. I’m sure I looked like jail bait to them, dressed in all black with spikes and rips in my clothes. Instead, I found my way through less conventional paths like a womyn’s gathering in Arkansas; then a blacksmithing workshop in Colorado followed by construction in Oakland; and, surprisingly, in dark corners at the Eagle (a gay leather bar) in San Francisco. I traveled by thumb, two-wheels, and 18-wheels in a time where community had to found IRL.
Name one guilty pleasure.
A pervading sense of existential angst.
Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?
What do you mean “enough?” Is there ever enough support for artists anywhere?
How do you stay cool during the summer?
In San Francisco, we don’t have summer exactly, maybe a few hot days here and there that people get really excited about, but mostly, I just chase the shade.
What is your favorite type of milk?
Milk is disgusting, I’ve been rejecting it since I was a tiny babe.
“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.
The works in Fault Lines prove that abstraction need not be confined to the inner life of the artist.
Celeste’s sculptures all rely on natural forces to achieve balance, and thus are perpetually on the precipice of collapse.
Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright memorializes Chicago’s Garrick Theatre and Buffalo’s Larkin Building, which were razed to build a parking lot and a truck stop.
By reinventing the traditional bokashi technique, Hamanaka reminds us that nothing is dead, even when many proclaim otherwise.
The company’s mastery of the art market’s smoke and mirrors is its most impressive illusion.
Sadly, though by no means surprisingly, there is precedence for this female erasure. Women have been and continue to be the executors of the invisible, unpaid, unaccredited labor that makes much of the world run smoothly.