Last month, queer voices were amplified through an art exhibit in the Kent State Fashion Museum featuring art pieces, from condom earrings to lavender brooches, created by LGBTQ+ students. The Queer Voices Art Exhibit displayed the work of nine artists from a diverse range of majors.
The exhibit took place from March 8th to March 11th as a temporary installation in the Kent State Fashion Museum. A reception was held on March 11th to honor the students who participated.
“We had students state that they wanted an exhibit expressing queer voices,” said Lo Denmon, Assistant Director of the LGBTQ+ Center. “We put their artwork on display to have visible presence and expression of LGBTQ+ experiences on our campus.”
The exhibit featured many different mediums of art, including paintings, drawings, garments, photographs and intricate metal work.
These pieces explored various LGBTQ+ themes such as culture, color symbolism and mental health. Max Hergett, freshman nursing major, submitted two drawings to the exhibit displaying mental health in queer individuals.
One of Hergett’s drawings depicted a flower blooming within the aftermath of a wildfire. The text on the piece read: “Where fire burns, flowers will bloom again.” He stated that he used watercolor, pen and pencil for this piece.
“I remember learning about how sometimes after natural wildfires, there is room for new plants and new life to regrow because of the wide open space,” Hergett stated. “I compare it to how after someone experiences trauma, they are able to regrow and heal although it may have been catastrophic.”
Their second drawing depicted three silhouettes of a singular person with their thoughts written along the outlines. Some of the phrases written included “I’m fine” and “this is my burden alone.” He stated that this piece was created by using pen and pencil.
“My second piece is about convincing yourself that you’re fine, but subconsciously you are not fine,” they said. “It’s about subconsciously lying to everyone, including yourself, and you are left carrying the burden. It can be a scary feeling to feel alone.”
Similarly, another student artist spoke about their mental health influencing their artwork. Moon Taylor, freshman psychology and sociology major, submitted drawings inspired by their own experiences.
Their three pieces were black and white pen drawings depicting images of individuals dealing with mental illness. The second drawing also included an image of a skeleton between two individuals.
“The first one is about experiencing negative self-talk and having someone specifically target you. Another piece highlights the feeling of not being able to escape,” Taylor said. “The third piece highlights feeling alone but also reaching out for help.”
According to Curina, many queer artist have emphasized that art therapy is an effective way to express and manage the mental distress that comes with being queer. Many artists have stated that the exhibit is a fantastic opportunity for self expression in the Kent community.
“The exhibit is a great opportunity for sure! I am extremely grateful to be involved. I’ve never been involved in one before, ” Hergett stated. “I hope they expand next year to get even more queer students in the show.”
Although the Queer Voices Art Exhibit experienced limitations during the past few years because of the pandemic, they hope to increase involvement in the coming years.
“In 2021, attendance was relatively scattered and folks would come through in small numbers to socially distance,” Denmon said. “In the future, we hope to get even more students involved to expand our exhibit.”
They hope to target various campus art classes and intend to partner with queer student artists. As the exhibit’s intent is to ampilify queer voices, they hope to gather more stories to tell.
“The exhibit gets our voices out to the community in a creative way,” Denmon stated. “Our identities may not be visible all the time, but that does not mean we should be invisible.”