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Queer Art Workers Reflect: Noah Lawrence-Holder Is “Working to Abolish the Police, the Way Marsha P. Johnson Intended!”

LGBTQ Pride month is now. Every day in June, we are celebrating the community by featuring one queer art worker and asking them to reflect on what this moment means to them.

Artist Noah Lawrence-Holder (all images courtesy Noah Lawrence-Holder)

The month of June is a time to celebrate LGBTQ communities. It’s a moment to reflect on the rich history and culture of the queer community, as well as more recent advances made in the realm of civil liberties. This year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many queer individuals are navigating greater risks to their health, safety, and livelihoods.

Cognizant of the need to stay connected and elevate queer voices amid uncertainty, Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one queer art worker per day on our website and asking them to reflect on what this time means to them. If you identify as a queer art worker, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to learn more about how to participate. 

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The cover of City Pages, February 2020, illustrated by Noah Lawrence-Holder

What’s your name?

Noah Lawrence-Holder

Where are you based currently? 

Minneapolis/ St. Paul, MN

Describe who you are and what you do.

I am a black, non-binary artist from Madison WI, now based in the Twin Cities. I make illustration and animation work, both to entertain and to create narratives centered around the intersections of Black and queer identities. My work is layered, colorful, sensual, and romantic, and a way for me heal myself as well as make others seen. It is a love letter to everything Black and queer.

Noah Lawrence-Holder, “The Table is Set” (2020)

Tell us about your greatest achievement or something you’ve done lately that you’re proud of.

Over the past year, I worked with Black Visions Collective to learn about community organizing, as well as how to make impactful artwork. Over the course of the program I got the chance to learn from and work alongside many talented Black artists, practice mindfulness and resonation, and do a bit of groundwork in our community. This program culminated in a gallery opening where I got to display a series of three illustrations depicting my vision for the future of Black people in Minnesota.

Favorite ways to celebrate your queerness and community?

I love celebrating my queerness through fashion. I’ve always loved standing out with my clothing but since [the outbreak of] COVID I’ve been learning how to do a little makeup, which makes me feel much prettier and more like myself. Beyond that, art is my favorite way to connect to my own queerness and Blackness, as well as that of my community. Putting my art in front of the people I try to represent in my work is so satisfying to me. The reason I make art is to see myself represented, and hopefully provide that feeling to others.

What’s been top of mind for you lately?

My city is the center of this massive civil rights movement right now. Despite the violence from police, the white supremacists terrorizing my friends and neighborhoods and the pain we are all feeling over the death of George Floyd, I’ve seen people in my city come together in such an amazing way. The support here is so beautiful and unlike anything I have seen. I feel so lucky and so proud to be a part of what is happening here.

Noah Lawrence-Holder, “The Table is Set” (2020)

Talk to us about your immediate queer community/support systems. (Feel free to shout out other folks or organizations you think are doing important work.)

Black Visions Collective and the friends I have made through it do a lot of great work in my city. Pretty much everyone I know is queer so it feels funny to call out a support system. It’s kind of just everyone I know! I’m also lucky enough to live with my best friend, Kieran Myles-Andrés Tverbakk, who is a very talented and driven trans artist. They push me a lot as an artist and I think that’s really invaluable.

How are you celebrating Pride Month this time around?

By working to defund and abolish the police, the way Marsha P. Johnson intended! How else??

Noah Lawrence-Holder, “The Mask is Off” (2020)

Are there ways you think queer artists and art workers could be better supported?

I would like to see more queer art in spaces and contexts that aren’t all about queerness. I also think outsiders would often rather consume and showcase queer and Black stories when they are centered around tragedy. I think it’s much more radical to make work about our joy.

In the communities that you’re part of, what are you hoping to see shift in the future?

I think there is still a lot of misogyny/ homophobia/ transphobia in the Black community. It pains me to see my people push each other downwards. People need to be educated on these issues and on intersectionality.

What’s the first thing you’re planning to do when it feels safer to physically gather again?

Hug every person I know then get them all to a packed dance floor and order them all three gin and tonics.

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