Features

Queer Artists in Their Own Words: Michèle Pearson Clarke Is Toronto’s Photo Laureate

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.

Michèle Pearson Clarke, “Woods 2, July 20, 2018” (2018), archival ink jet print, 40 x 40 inch, from the self-portrait series, The Animal Seems To Be Moving

Michèle Pearson Clarke

Age: 46

Location: Toronto, Canada

Artistic Medium: Photography and Film

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m an artist, writer, part-time educator, and ongoing work-in-progress. I’m from Trinidad but have been living in Canada since emigrating here in 1992. And as of a few months ago, I’m the city of Toronto’s second Photo Laureate. My work is concerned with holding space for grief and loss, and considering the personal and political possibilities of these emotional experiences that we all have, but are told we shouldn’t talk about.

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

Grieving my mother, Tina Campt’s theorizing of photography, and Black and queer folks’s daily theorizing of our lives.

Describe your coffee order.

Black with just enough almond milk to take the edge off.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

The small contributions I make to other people’s healing.

What constitutes a perfect day?

A strong coffee, a long walk, a new experience to satisfy my curiosity, and good food and conversation. Bonus points if that walk is somewhere out in nature.

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

Rosalind Fox Solomon at Stephen Bulger Gallery.

What would your superpower be if you had one?

Shapeshifting.

Tell us a lie about yourself.

I don’t cry easily.

What is one question you wish somebody would ask about your work?

What is up with your obsession with repetition?

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

Capitalism.

What did you make when you first started making art?

I made relationships with people who gave me the permission I needed to make art.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

Throwing shade as subtly as possible.

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

Marlon Riggs’s Tongues Untied.

What are your plans for pride month?

Balancing my disgust for corporate expressions of pride with my utter joy for being a part of this complex, messy, beautiful queer family.

What is the future of queerness?

Hopefully what it has always been: possibility and permission for other ways of being in the world.

Back in my day…

I knew less than I know now.

Name one guilty pleasure.

Condensed milk and cheddar cheese sandwiches, on white bread only.

Greatest queer icon of the internet: BabadookMomo, or a pervading sense of existential angst?

A pervading sense of existential angst.

Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?

We are always expected to do more with less, so no.

How do you stay cool during the summer?

With a cold beer on Toronto’s naked beach.

What is your favorite type of milk?

The type that has been turned into ice cream.

“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.

comments (0)