Tag Archives: Queer Art

It Is Our Duty to Fight: A Curator’s Interview with Adrienne Skye Roberts


I was asked to participate in Strange Bedfellows, a group exhibition about collaborative practice in queer art. For the show, I decided to collaborate with four prison survivors and members of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. I asked each person three questions: How did you survive prison? What do you need to survive now that you are out? And what does a world without mass incarceration look like?

Based on the wise words of my interviewees, I created hand-painted protest signs that will be displayed in the gallery along with the edited audio of the interviews. The piece is titled, “It is our duty to fight / It is our duty to win / We must love each other and protect each other / We have nothing to loose but our chains” (based on the Assata Shakur chant).

I was interviewed by Amy Cancelmo, the show’s curator, about my art practice and organizing with CCWP, about queer activism and it’s relationship to prison abolition. Before the show opens Saturday, June 8th, you can read the interview here:

It Is Our Duty to Fight: A Curator’s Interview with Adrienne Skye Roberts

Strange Bedfellows: Collaborative Practice in Queer Art at Root Divison

Presented as part of National Queer Arts Festival 2013
Curated by: Amy Cancelmo

Second Saturday Reception: Saturday, June 8, 7-10 pm
Exhibition Dates: June 5-29, 2013
Gallery Hours: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2-6 pm

Wednesday, June 19, 7-9 pm
Featuring: EG Crichton & Barbara McBane, Annie Sprinkle & Beth Stephens, Tina Takemoto, Chris Vargas & Greg Youmans
Moderated by: Amy Cancelmo

Strange Bedfellows is a visual art exhibition exploring collaborative practice in queer art. Featuring the work of over twenty contemporary queer artists alongside ephemera loaned from the San Francisco GLBT Historical Society Archive, the show presents diverse strategies for collaboration and considers multiple authorship as a radical concept.

Strange Bedfellows is a nationally traveling exhibition with accompanying catalogue, and is a fiscally sponsored project of the Queer Cultural Center. The exhibition will debut in San Francisco at Root Division in June 2013 as part of the National Queer Arts Festival, and then travel to the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University in Lewisburg Pennsylvania in Fall of 2013. It will next be presented in Chicago for the College Art Association Conference in February of 2014 as the sponsored exhibition of the Queer Caucus for the Arts. Additional funders for the project include Endeavor Foundation for the Arts & Rainbow Grocery.

Participating Artists:

Bren Ahearn, Greg Der Ananian & Jesse M. Kahn, Jordan Arsenault & POSTER VIRUS, E.G. Crichton, Barbara McBane & Susan Working, Sean Fader, Alex Hernandez* with Rude House, Sarah Hirneisen, Amos Mac & Julianna Huxtable LaDosha, Tara Mateik, billy ocallaghan, Adrienne Skye Roberts, Annie Sprinkle & Beth Stephens with Luke Wilson, Julie Sutherland, Tina Takemoto & Angela Ellsworth, Chris Vargas & Greg Youmans, Angie Wilson & Amber Straus

*Root Division Studio Artist

I owe everything to being queer: An interview with Tirza True Latimer

ImageTirza True Latimer is the chair of the Visual and Critical Studies Department at the California College of the Arts (CCA). She is a feminist art historian, a lesbian, a general mover and shaker and a huge mentor of mine. I was Tirza’s student during my time at CCA in 2007 – 2009 and am indebted to her generosity, tender heartedness and fierce intellect. She modeled for me and all her students what it means to not only teach about feminism but to create a learning environment that is embedded within feminist politics and spirit.

After a few years of my own undergraduate teaching experiences, I was eager to talk with Tirza about feminist teaching. We met at a cafe in Berkeley with this subject in mind and after discussing her coming of age during anti-war movement of the 1960s, her refusal of mainstream, heterosexual culture, her participation the queer, collective culture of the 1970s and transition from working construction to teaching art history, our conversation eventually found its way to the feminist classroom.

Somehow I manage to corral this conversation into a readable interview! And I am so pleased that it was recently published on the literary site, The Rumpus. You can read the full interview here to see what I mean about this incredible woman and teacher.

We thought the world we built would be forever: An interview with Lenn Keller

Maybe it has something to do with turning 29, but it seems that all I want to do lately is talk with older generations of queer artists and political organizers about their lives and work. Last week I met with Lenn Keller, a Bay Area film-maker and photographer whose practice straddles the worlds of art making, political activism, and queerness.

I first saw Lenn’s work in 2010 when her exhibition “Fierce Sistahs: Art, Activism and Community of Lesbians of Color in the Bay Area, 1975 – 2000” was on display at the San Francisco Public Library. Fierce Sistahs was a collection of photographs and ephemera documenting the political and social lives of lesbians of color from pride parades to workshops to community gatherings. Shortly after I included Lenn’s series of portraits of gender non-comforming youth of color into the exhibition, “Suggestions of A Life Being Lived” at  SFCamerawork which I co-curated with Danny Orendorff.

Lenn is a living vestige to the Bay Area’s history of lesbian culture and political movements centered on the experiences of women of color. We talked about this history, and how the politics of the Bay Area attempts to erode lesbian culture, as well as her film, A Persistent Desire which traces the evolution of butch-femme identities and dynamics. While posting this interview in June is perhaps a nod to San Francisco’s Pride festivities, Lenn’s work and experience reveal a complex legacy that extends well beyond the month and provides a historical context to our current manifestations of queer protest, survival and joy.

Read the interview on SFMOMA’s Open Space.

THIS JUST IN: Suggestions of A Life Being Lived catalog now available!

Thanks to the support of numerous people, the catalog for Suggestions of a Life Being Lived, the queer photography exhibition curated by Danny Orendorff and yours truly at SFCamerawork in September 2010 is NOW AVAILABLE! This project was a long time in the making. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen! The catalog features a conversation between Danny and myself entitled, “A Queer Exploration of Three Public Themes.” The cover image was drawn by Jason Fitz Michael and Matt Momchilov and the catalog features full color images from all the artists featured in the show. Order a copy today through SFCamerawork! Or Amazon! And check out the write up of the book on the California College of the Arts News page!

Where We Are Not Known, Queer Imagination and the Photograhy of Kirstyn Russell in Make/Shift, Issue 9

Kirstyn Russell’s photographs are haunting, beautiful and oftentimes, comical portraits of place framed through her queer lens. After working with Kirstyn on the exhibition Suggestions of A Life Being Lived, I felt compelled to spend more time with her project, “Where We Are Not Known.” In this ongoing project she photographs real and imagined queer spaces throughout the United States: gay bars tucked away in rural towns and businesses recontexualized as queer spaces.

Beginning with my own relationship to queer locations as a San Francisco Bay Area resident, I wrote a piece about Kirstyn’s work in which I discuss the imagination required of queer people who must so often create our own spaces and realities. This article was published in the most recent issue of Make/Shift: Feminisms in Motion. I am thrilled to be included in this publication with a roster of contributors whose work I respect and admire. Check out Issue 9 at your nearest independent bookstore or buy it online! And check out Kirstyn’s work here.

Image: Dyke Photography: Flint, Michigan, 2006

Queer World Making: Suggestions of a Life Being Lived featured in No More Potlucks and The Bilerico Project

Danny Orendorff and I were interviewed by Toshio Meronek about “Suggestions of a Life Being Lived” for two different publications: the Canadian journal No More Potlucks, Number 14 which you can read here and a similar interview is included on The Bilerico Project blog. Thank you, Toshio!

What Can Be Measured By a Square and What Cannot?

1. Hippodamian Piraeus: The division of cities by square angles / How we know each other by where we live, why all peripheries are not centers.

I am honored to be a participant in artist and writer, Emily Roysdon’s recent publication, A Queer Relational Associative Project Dictionary published on the occasion of the MATRIX 235 exhibition, If I Don’t Move, Can You Hear Me? at the Berkeley Art Museum. I have admired Roysdon’s work for a long time, particularly her involvement with the queer feminist journal and collective, LTTR and Ecstatic Resistance, her curatorial project and philosophy. For this exhibition, Roysdon will show photography and film related to her evolving vocabulary around movement, choreography, collectivity, and abstraction and utilizing site-specific spaces in Berkeley.

6. Albrecht Dürer, Mechanical Perspective: The size of an elbow, a knee-cap / The memory of this elbow, this knee-cap / A system of representation worked out on a supine female body.

For the publication, Roysdon paired two or more writers and gave us assignments; to co-author a text based on one word of the vocabulary that Roysdon interrogates in her own work. I was invited to collaborate with Tirza True Latimer. Our text, “A Visual History of Square Technologies Encountering Round Realities,” is based on our assignment to write about the word, square. Tirza and I collected images from the history of square technologies used to measure spaces, bodies or actions. In order to create captions for each photograph, we answered the questions, what can be measured by a square and what cannot?

A Queer Relational Associative Dictionary is available for free at the Berkeley Art Museum for the duration of the exhibition (December 12, 2010 through March 6, 2011).

Panel discussion at SFCamerawork

Thank you to all who attended the gallery walk-through and panel discussion at SFCamerawork this past Friday, October 22nd. The panel featured the artists Jeannie Simms, Greg Youmans, Chris Vargas, and Eric Stanley and was moderated by artist and activist, Tammy Rae Carland. Danny Orendorff and I led visitors on a tour of the gallery, highlighting 5 different works and then during the panel discussed the year long process of curating Suggestions of a Life Being Lived, including the impossibility of the categorization of queer art and the political motivations the guided us.