curated by Gabby Coll and Adrienne Doyle
BURN SOMETHING a public art exhibition presented by the Emerging Curators Institute
curated by Gabby Coll and Adrienne Doyle
BURN SOMETHING a public art exhibition presented by the Emerging Curators Institute
EXHIBITION installed at 1527 East lake Street, Minneapolis, MN
“There’s a new world coming. Everything gon’ be turning over. Where you gon’ be standing when it comes?” - Bernice Johnson Reagon The Emerging Curators Institute presents Burn Something, a public art exhibition conceptualized and curated by inaugural fellows, Gabby Coll and Adrienne Doyle. Installed on the boarded building of The Family Partnership on the intersection of East Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue South in Minneapolis, MN, this exhibition features work from seven Black and POCI artists of femme, nonbinary, and trans identities living in the Twin Cities. Coll and Doyle have curated this exhibition as an expansion of Burn Something Zine, a DIY submission-based publication founded by Doyle and published between 2014 and 2016. The zine was created to offer a cultural space in the Twin Cities for women and gender non-conforming folks of color to claim their narratives, build social connections, and heal by being heard. In the style of Burn Something Zine, the artists featured in this exhibition responded to a call for submissions and were selected by Coll and Doyle based on their relevance to five themes that thread through the zine’s six issues: tenderness and care; growth and collective power; transition and loss; survival and the impacts of personal and cultural trauma on the bodies of POC; and identity and place. In the inconceivable style of 2020, this exhibition stands in public view amongst the fire of two pandemics: a deadly virus that some believe is fallacy, and the racist power structures that have been burning this city for generations. Black and POCI femme, trans, and nonbinary folks have been putting in the most transformative and imaginative work supporting the social revolution sparked by these pandemics, often going unrecognized for their misunderstood or unseen labor. This exhibition amplifies the voices and experiences of our communities, setting flame to the norms around who gets the mic and celebrating our lives for ourselves.
Top: A few of Adrienneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favorite zines from her collection. Bottom: From left to right, curators Adrienne Doyle and Gabby Coll with mentor and ECI Interim Director, Esther Callahan.
ZINE Burn Something Zine was founded by Adrienne Doyle in 2014. By the end of the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s two-year run, it had featured work from 24 individual contributors, including 7 repeat contributors and 3 national contributors, over 6 issues released between September 2014 and December 2016. Submissions included written and visual work. Written pieces were paired with graphic design and collage work by Doyle. Copies of the zine were printed and sold at local independent bookstores and zine fairs, and were distributed in cultural spaces for queer and trans folks and people of color for free. In the spirit of DIY zine culture, printing costs were financed by zine sales, by Doyle herself, or by her unknowing employers. Issues of the zine were also uploaded to issuu.com, a digital publication platform, for free viewing. The submission-based nature of the project facilitated the documentation of hyper-local happenings, personal reflections, and political movements that impacted contributors and their communities. Examples include the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the Twin Cities, the experience of being othered in predominantly white queer spaces, and the grief of losing a beloved community member. Due to her limited capacity to maintain the project, Doyle ceased activities for Burn Something Zine in June 2017 without holding any intentional acknowledgement or celebration of what the project did and what it meant to its community. In 2019, Gabby Coll and Doyle were awarded a year-long collaborative fellowship with the Emerging Curators Institute to produce a project that honored the creative and documentary work of Burn Something Zine and its contributors. There is still an overwhelming need for the space that Burn Something Zine created. In the 4 years since the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s end, Minneapolisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Black and brown queer and trans communities have lost vital, brick-and-mortar cultural spaces used to create, question, celebrate, and witness each other. Yet, this community is practiced in carving out our own spaces to feel safe and seen, if not by those in power, then by each other. How else would we survive?
Published submissions to Burn Something Zine. Top left: Mare Lodu (Minneapolis) in issue 3. Top right: Margot Terc (NYC) in issue 3. Bottom: Nancy Musingizi (Minneapolis) in issue 4.
a curator’s statement from
GABBY COLL Adrienne Doyle inspires ease and grace. That’s why, in 2019, when we floated the idea of collaborating on an application for the Emerging Curators Institute, I immediately said yes. She barely told me about Burn Something Zine, yet I was in. We had known each other for about a year, as coworkers at Juxtaposition Arts in North Minneapolis, though we realized that we had gone to middle school together many years ago. In that moment, it felt like we were supposed to be in that room, in the living room of her apartment, uncovering a stack of old zines together, pondering the next iteration of this project. So much about our world, and the presentation of this exhibition, has changed within the span of a year. Emotionally, it feels too intimate to reduce a year of deep relationship building and so much learning into a few sentences and paragraphs. From a practical standpoint, the Burn Something exhibition exists in response to the systemic undermining of communities of color and the erasure of queer bodies in modern lived experience. Calling upon a decades-long history of zine-making – or centuries-long depending on who you ask – Burn Something Zine carved itself a pocket of space for Black and POCI queer creatives to make more, share more, and be in space together. The artists and their work presented in this exhibition respond to five themes threaded through the original six Burn Something Zine publications. Seeing their processes and getting a peek into their curious minds has inspired in me a renewed sense of awe about the possibilities in this kind of work. All of these artists approach these thematic threads with grace and depth, and I continue to be shaken by the power of creative expression in the act of narrative-claiming. In working on this project with Adrienne through the Emerging Curators Institute and with the artists we selected for the exhibition, I have increasingly come to understand the radical potential that lies in acts of discovery, creation, and commune. I’ve found liberation and joy in making, connecting, and uncovering threads between people, ideas, concepts, and spaces. It is through these connections and ideas that we start to uncover grains of truth.
A 2019 zine making workshop at the Minneapolis Institute of Art hosted by Gabby and Adrienne.
White supremacy has taught me to take up less space. It has told me not to trust my intuition. To question less. Capitalism has taught me my only value is my productivity. That taking time to rest, to find connection and self-actualization, and the accompanying joy, are the enemy. In the context of these lies, unpacking and understanding one’s own identity and privileges is humbling, often painful work. This project has allowed me to critically examine the ways in which I carry privilege, and the ways in which I also carry trauma, much of which I have not yet had the space to fully address. As Gloria Anzaldúa writes: “...we intimately know the origins of oppression; it brewed in our beds, tables, and streets; screaming out in anger is a necessary stage in our evolution into freedom, but do we have to dwell forever on that piece of terrain, forever stuck in the middle of that bridge? This land of thorns is not habitable. We carry this bridge inside us, the struggle, the movement toward liberation.” I invite you to walk this bridge with us.
Gabby Coll is an arts communicator, curator, and collaborator. She holds a BA in Art History from St. Olaf College. She has worked in communications and programming in arts organizations around the Twin Cities for the last 5 years and is currently Communications Manager at Juxtaposition Arts.
a curator’s statement from
ADRIENNE DOYLE In 2013, I was working at a Minneapolis museum as a docent. During a shift in one of the galleries, alone, I watched a white man and his white daughter engage with a small photo in a series of dozens that circled the room. The photo depicted a large painting, which read, “NIGGER.” The man and his daughter laughed at the photo, then cycled through the space and into another gallery. I did the same, questioning the incident and feeling sus of every other white museum patron. Why had that photo been included in the exhibition? Why wasn’t the photo presented with contextual information? It was shown as though a white male artist had made it, yet I later learned from the exhibition’s curator that the artist’s Black boyfriend made that piece. Why wasn’t that communicated in the show? As a Black femme, I felt I was made vulnerable in my own workplace by the photo’s seemingly thoughtless curation. While it was my responsibility to watch over and interact with both the art in the galleries and the museum’s visitors, I was being subjected to the neglectful decisions of a curatorial staff that couldn’t or wouldn’t see the full effects of their administrative power. After much deliberation, I wrote an opinion piece about the incident. It was published in a local paper. My critiques were supported by some fellow docents and supervisors, ignored by some non-Black docents of color, and challenged by others. I had conversations of varying outcomes with many white docents about race, art institutions, curation, power, and playing the Devil’s advocate. I created Burn Something Zine. I kept my job until I quit after I noticed a Black caricature in a painting that was included in the docent staff show, hung in the break room. I was angry at the curators who made decisions about that small photo, at my self-doubt about sharing my experience and critiques, and at the racist, intangible power structures that cannot be decimated with the immediacy of a match. This public art installation, at this time and place, extends the purpose of Burn Something Zine into a landscape morphed by struggle and resilience. The creation story and thematic focus of the zine and the environment in which the exhibition lives are viscerally connected: the danger of a structure spitting flames; chemical burns from the Minneapolis Police Department’s pepper spray;
Excerpt of a published written submission from Jen Wang (Minneapolis) paired with collage by Adrienne Doyle in issue 1 of Burn Something Zine.
emotional fire burning in the bellies of Black Minnesotans for generations; non-flammable power structures that make attempts at, and sometimes succeed in, stealing the agency, labor, and lives of Black people and people of color; the warmth of vulnerability and creativity in a trusting community of your peers; the searing impossibility of navigating two pandemics, each requiring survival strategies that are oppositional to that of the other. The thread is simple. We deserve and are capable of creating social structures and cultural spaces that support the lives and expression of the historically marginalized, namely, Black and POCI femme, nonbinary, and trans folks. These days, I am overwhelmingly sad. In contrast with its space of origin, I am finding it difficult to be tender with the culmination of this project. This makes me even sadder, as this project was borne of a deep tenderness and yearning for closeness with other Black and brown queer and trans Minneapolitans, a desire just as palpable for me in the present as it was in 2013 Despite this exhibitionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new, disorienting context, this curatorial project is a heartening work; beautiful, meaningful, and truly collaborative. Burn Something Zine has been a call to my people, a megaphone for my repressed rage, and a vessel for the shared vulnerability of the relegated. It is a joy to transform with it.
Adrienne Doyle is a writer and curator whose work centers the collective, connective, and vulnerable aspects of Blackness and queerness. She works Juxtaposition Arts as a Teaching Artist and Institutional Giving Manager and is writing a Black queer femme Southern road movie.
SITE and the ARTISTS
For weeks, the Minneapolis Police Department and the National Guard used brutal force on protestors who demanded accountability and abolition with rightful rage. The exhibition site is located less than a mile from the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct headquarters, which went up in flames on May 28th, 2020. Weeks after the initial protests, many buildings are still boarded. Some are damaged and some have closed due to the combined impact of the uprising and the pandemic. However, the intersection is still full of life and activity.
This exhibition is located on the intersection of East Lake Street and South Bloomington Avenue in Minneapolis, MN. This part of Lake Street is a predominantly Latinx, East African, and Black commercial and cultural hub and a major public transit route. In late May through July 2020, Lake Street was the site of numerous protests in response to the documented murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin.
The presentation of this exhibition – exposed to the elements, in a landscape morphed by crisis, freely accessible to absolutely anyone – is a vulnerable act of circumstance that fortunately sits in alignment with Burn Something Zine’s creation story and intention. It bucks the norms of curation and exhibition presentation, embeds the purpose of the show and the artists’ work into the built environment, and centers Black and POCI femme, nonbinary, and trans artists in a public space predominantly used by Black and brown communities.
GENEVIEVE DeLEON This drawing is part of a series I’ve been working on since moving to Minneapolis, MN. They are autobiographical and come from a space of longing for community and healing. When I sit down to draw, I often return to early memories of myself. An only child, shy, and queer, I would spend hours alone in the house. My mom, a LebaneseAmerican who passes as white, kept up with British interior design and made sure my room and our family space were coded as white and in good class standing. My father’s body, the body of a Guatemalan immigrant, and my body, a queer body of mixed ethnicity, interrupted those spaces. These drawings imagine more bodies like mine taking up space, playing, exploring sexuality, pulling each other up and out of fear and isolation.
Since the MN Uprising and the onset of the pandemic, play and freedom of erotic expression feel further off than ever. Survival mode bleeds me out. And yet I remember turning to my roommate during one protest and saying, “The revolution is hot.” Our unity, our anger brought forward an agency that was erotic, that pulsed as it lifted. Back in my room, when the threat of violence lingers and the pressures of work rise like an unstoppable tide, I admit that I am still “in training” in my ability to channel fear into power and fullness. It is momentary – like a flash – then atmospheric, then liquid, but even the humble admittance yields something akin to liberation. This drawing is a prayer for resilience: no way out but through.
Genevieve DeLeon is an artist, poet, and MFA graduate from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her work has been exhibited at MCAD’s Main Gallery, DC Artspace, Tessellate Gallery, Forum Gallery, and the Washington Studio School. Her poems and writing have appeared in Mnartists.org, H+N Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Ekphrasis, and Poet Lore. She is currently Visiting Faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Genevieve DeLeon “carrying one another”, 2019 Pencil on paper 18”x24”
Lane Eliyahu “After Jamar”, 2020 Acrylic on foam board 18”x24”
In 2015 a young Black man named Jamar Clark was murdered by police officers that patrolled North Minneapolis, MN, the section of the city that I lived in at the time. The possibility of murder at the hands of police felt too close to me. The sounds of helicopters lingered into the early hours of every night. At the 4th Precinct protests, I saw up close how the most vulnerable among us are the first to stand up against shite
supremacy. Black transgender and gender-nonconforming people are the first to step into harms way. It took me 5 years to make art about Jamar. Now that the uprising has begun, I am forcing myself to continue to make art. Even though George Floyd was murdered. Even though my city has burned. Even though the police are still here and still killing. I have to hang on to hope.
Lane Eliyahu is a Black nonbinary visual storyteller whose work turns a sharp focus on gender diversity across the diaspora through dramatic monochrome illustrations. Inspired by artists like Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson, Eliyahu leverages their passion through community collaborations, education, and agriculture. They reside in Minneapolis, MN.
Zola Ellen “Untitled”, 2020 Digital photograph 8”x5”
I began my artistic expression as a writer. After moving to St. Louis, MO in 2016 to care for my sick father, I picked up photography as a new creative medium. My work started with self-portraiture as a means to feel connected to myself while navigating grief. In my photography, I place my focus on the unspoken histories of
intimate Black spaces such as stoops and bedrooms, and how Black folks exist in relationship with themselves and their loved ones there. Lingering themes for my practice include transition, loss, grief, tenderness, care, and the ways in which we nurture intergenerational bonds to mend fragmented bloodlines.
Zola Ellen is an activist, abolitionist, writer, and visual storyteller whose work is informed by the abundance and sacredness of Black life. Her professional and creative practices align at the earthly requirement to be in better understanding with our histories and our human complexities. She is a 2020 Black Futures Lab Public Policy Institute fellow, a community organizer, and a revolutionary mama.
My work reveals the story of a complex and transient being that was created without intention. This being often invokes fear and vulnerability, which I am learning are the roads to understanding. In my art practice as a whole, I try to process my place in the world by seeing our society as a puzzle. We, the pieces, are ephemeral, complex, and balanced with fragility on the tip of the ego or the “I.” Where do “I” fit? Who am “I”? Why does this happen to ME? I created this particular piece in a moment of selfdiscovery. I focused on the primary colors because they represent the foundations of art, therefore the foundation of what it means to be and exist as I am.
It started as practice and then grew into something larger. Through painting myself at different intervals in my life, I am able to use the work as checkpoints of change. I can look back and see how far I’ve grown which gives me the strength to continue going forward. This small sketch influenced my exhibition for my senior show titled “Out Of Form.” This show juxtaposes primary colors and basic shapes, simple things that anyone can draw, with the complexity of what it means for me to be biracial, bisexual, and a woman. I feel that my entire identity was opened for exploration on the day I created this sketch.
Justice Jones is an artist, educator, and activist, Jones works as an apprentice at Juxtaposition Arts and with artist Marcia Haffmans. She is a recent graduate from Augsburg University and is now completing her final year as a Studio Art Major with a K-12 Art Education Licensure. Her experience with a multiplicity of environments, collaborators, and clients has led Justice to use a wide range of mediums for art making.
Justice Jones “Primary Self-Portrait”, 2019 Pencil and acrylic on paper 11”x14”
My current work is acutely focused on unpacking the complexities of “double-conscience” as it relates to Western perceptions of “Black identity”. My gestural charcoal figurations and blotched usage of paint serve as a visual metaphor for the nuanced tension amongst
Africans and our diaspora. I comically highlight my first-generation Liberian American experience as a lens to interrogate the oppressive nature of being straddled between two worlds; and most of all, the fight to create my own world.
Lissa Karpeh is a Liberian-American artist whose work is navigated by her first-generation identity and background in mental health. In her work, Karpeh explores concepts of self, other, and content. She received her BFA from Saint Cloud State in 2018 and is currently an artist in the Studio 400 cohort.
Lissa Karpeh “In This They Carry Joy”, 2019 Oil and acrylic on canvas 20”x24”
katie robinson “witness; what brouught us here”, 2017 Pen on paper 6”x8”
Representations of the Middle Passage that were created for white consumption have always left me far away from the ancestors I yearn for and need to be close to. Pain wants to be seen, and death doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to be forgotten. I long for portals to horrific moments like the Middle Passage that equip us with the tools and capacity to stay, and make it impossible to abandon ourselves when we are in unthinkable circumstances. Every time we can be with the exact truth of death, of trauma, of pain, without running or turning, and without an agenda, we move towards our collective power to heal ourselves. witnesses; what brought me here
is an opportunity to stay with the Middle Passage, a crossing that killed and birthed all Black people who are descended from kidnapped and enslaved Africans. However we, Black people, were in that moment â&#x20AC;&#x201C; however we are now â&#x20AC;&#x201C; if we are jumping to join the whales, if we are rebelling and being thrown overboard, if we have curled inward and become stone, if we have stretched in all directions to touch as many others as possible, if we are fighting to stay alive, if we have no fight left in us and have surrenderedwe were and are witnessed, we were and are never alone, we have, and have always had agency.
katie robinson is a sex educatior, writer, artist, and graduate student. Their academic and artistic work is curious about and present with individual and collective harm, such that it can be understood outside of a modernist/colonial paradigm. They live in Minneapolis, MN with their partner, cat, and dog.
KIERAN MYLES-ANDRES TVERBAKK I began cutting myself out of family photos shortly after I began injecting testosterone in August 2017. As my skin literally thickened, I gradually recognized myself in the mirror more and more. Members of my family insisted that I was becoming ‘someone else’ - while I felt as though I could breathe for the first time, relieved to have finally torn my way out of my twenty-three year old shell. I began looking through my family’s archive of photographs in exploration of myself, who and where I come from. I transform these nostalgic and memory-charged images into more accurate reflections of my experience as a child riddled with gender dysphoria.
There is a clear need for physical, mental, and creative space for BIPOC trans* people within the Twin Cities. Arts programming such as this iteration of the Burn Something exhibition addresses this need by providing local artists with a platform and public space to share our own narratives. Following the murder of George Floyd and the uprisings taking place across the nation, artists have been responding to the injustices by taking up visual space along the streets in the affected areas, which are predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods. It’s important that trans* stories are at the forefront of this conversation so that society at large can acknowledge and begin to remedy the violence faced specifically by Black trans* women and femmes.
Kieran Myles-Andrés Tverbakk is a first generation Chicanx-Norwegian artist from Houston TX, currently based in the Twin Cities, MN. Their sculptural work is conceptually and materially based, constructing embodiments of their contentions with gender identity using wood, metal, fibers, concrete, and their family’s archives. Through their practice, they explore notions of loss through transitioning, the duality of visibility, and empowerment through reclamation.
Kieran Myles Andrés Tverbakk “missing”, 2019 Digital print 48”x96”
COLLECTIVE The process of producing this exhibition sparked the creation of the Burn Something Collective, a group of 7 Black and POCI femme, nonbinary, and trans artists. We will work at the intersection of curation, publishing, and mentorship to create support, connection, and autonomy for our community of artists. We envision a world in which the curiosity, expression and selfdetermination of queer and trans Black and POCI artists is trusted, celebrated, and fully resourced. Collective members include Lizy Bryant, Gabby Coll, Genevieve DeLeon, Adrienne Doyle, Zola Ellen, Mare Lodu, and Nancy Musinguzi. Since its founding in February 2020, the development of the Burn Something Collective has been a consistent tether to joy and radical imagination while we navigate the early stages of a pandemic and a revolution. We are so grateful for this small community weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve built.
To learn more about Burn Something Collective, read issues of the zine, and hear about upcoming projects at burnsomething.org. Follow our work on Instagram and Facebook @burnsomethingzine.
We are forever grateful to the amazing artists included in this show for riding these turbulent waves with us with grace, flexibility, and generosity. It is because of you that this work is possible. Thank you for sharing pieces of yourselves with us. We have a deep love for the Burn Something Collective members for keeping us grounded and lifted up. We cannot wait to keep dreaming, questioning, and manifesting with you all. Thank you to the wonderful Emerging Curators Institute staff, Tricia Heuring and Creatives After Curfew, The Family Partnership, Arts District Image Works, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Knight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Springboard for the Arts, Esther Callahan, and Tia-Simone Gardner for their support in producing this project. Special thanks to all past contributors to Burn Something Zine. All of this would still be a daydream without you.
Photo of the installation of the Burn Something exhibition, taken by Nancy Musinguzi.