curated by John Chaich january 17 - march 16, 2014
Fabric and thread play an important part in our lives. Probably more than any other substance, nearly every person on the planet comes in contact with fabric every day. Regardless of race, gender, class, or culture, we habitually wear it, touch it, see it, and are protected by it. For centuries, artists have used fabric and thread to create works of art. Looms are known to have existed more than 6,000 years ago. From ancient Egyptian burial cloths to lavish 17th-century Flemish tapestries, artists have used woven threads and fabric as a medium of expression. It is only natural that artists seeking to explore a queer sensibility would look to something so ubiquitous to explore a perspective that may seem so foreign. Queer Threads: Crafting Identity & Community offers us the opportunity to explore ourselves through the use of this different medium. The selected works are replete with ironies and surprises. Who would imagine that pansies would be needlepointed on leather, or “butt fucker” would be stitched in a quilt that appears to be made lovingly by your grandmother, or that a life-sized men’s locker room could be completely crocheted? Many thanks are given to the twenty-four artists who made their work available. This is truly an international exhibition, as work made by artists here in New York has been joined by that from artists working around the world, including Toronto, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Cape Town, and other locales. The exhibition also contains a piece on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Without the generosity of these artists and institutions, exhibitions such as this would not be possible. Thank you. Special thanks also to guest curator John Chaich. For more than two years, John has worked tirelessly on this exhibition, overseeing nearly every detail to ensure a complete and flawless exhibition. This has become a mission for him, as he truly believes that through alternative media, issues of gender and sexuality can be explored.
on the cover
Then and Now (Rainbow Order), 2008 (detail) Yarn, wood, and hanging hardware 44 x 39 inches Courtesy of the Artist and Pierogi Gallery, New York
The Leslie-Lohman Museum is a unique resource to anyone who cares about honesty, intimacy, and the human experience. We strive to show quality work through the lens of LGBTQ artists and subject matters. Exhibitions like this make us proud of what we do. Hunter O’Hanian Museum Director 3
One of Merriam Webster’s definitions of the adjective queer is “differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal.” Craft has been long considered the queer stepchild of fine art. Likewise, the dictionary defines the verb thread as “to move forward by turning and going through narrow spaces.” The artists in Queer Threads: Crafting Identity & Community are moving through the narrow space that is gay or straight, art or craft, to redefine personal identities and art practices through thread-based craft materials, techniques, and processes. Loaded with gender connotations and power hierarchies, fiber and textile traditions such as crochet, embroidery, knitting, macramé, quilting, and sewing provide a fitting platform for examining tastes, roles, and relationships socialized within and around gay and lesbian culture. And thread—be it yarn or embroidery floss—parallels the potential for connectivity in our lives as samegender-loving and gender-non-conforming peoples. Our commonalities may be as thick as a knot or as thin as a string. As individuals we are strands; as communities we are interwoven. Both can be broken or braided. Uniquely, craft reveals the facture or process by which the piece was made1, and the visible craft facture among many of these pieces seems to reveal queer experiences. In Your Granny’s Not Square, Sheila Pepe has crocheted not with yarn but with shoelaces—a rather queer choice of material—and in doing so, the material chosen magnifies the visible facture and draws the viewer deeper into the crevices and shadows of her piece. Often the visible technique amplifies the artist’s message. Allyson Mitchell and Jessica Whitbred intentionally leave the cross stitch in Fuck Positive Women unfinished, bundling the yarn on the exposed plastic canvas. A mental image of the needle piercing the canvas is recalled, and the exposed craft
SHEILA PEPE Your Granny’s Not Square, 2008 Shoelaces, yarn, and hanging hardware 84 x 144 x 42 inches Courtesy of the Artist 5
“OUR COMMONALITIES MAY BE AS THICK AS A KNOT OR THIN AS A STRING. AS INDIVIDUALS WE ARE STRANDS; AS COMMUNITIES WE ARE INTERWOVEN. BOTH CAN BE BROKEN OR BRAIDED.” process forces viewers to examine their presumptions about sexuality, power, and passion, as well as the connotations about craft itself. The contrast between the loose strands that hang to the ground in Pierre Fouché’s Judgment of Paris and the exquisite hand-lace and macramé of the figure’s torso not only draws attention to the facture of his handiwork but also implies the unfinished and unrequited. This exhibition marks the first time these works have been shown together to specifically highlight their queerness. All of the featured artists are LGBTQ-identified, but not all of the content explicitly is—and that’s perfectly queer in this context. As queer craft scholar Julia Bryan-Wilson notes, “Craft objects, like queer desires, are multiple...they refuse to be any one thing.”2 Queerness embraces diversity and even discrepancy. (In fact, I originally titled the exhibition Not-so-Common Threads.) In my curatorial selection and throughout the gallery space, I’ve organized the work around several not-soclosely-knit themes: Loose Cannons, pieces that explore activism, icons, and ideas around “pride” as in the work of Liz Collins, Aubrey Longley-Cook, and Allyson Mitchell; Loose Threads, work that remixes techniques or materials as in the pieces by Chris Bogia, James Gobel, and Aaron McIntosh; Embroidered and Embodied, presenting physicality, sexuality, and creativity as seen in contributions by Ben Cuevas, Maria E. Piñeres, and Buzz Slutzky; and The Social Fabric, which examines relationships and spaces— both personal and public, chosen and inherited—as in the work of Chiachio & Giannone, Sheila Pepe, and L.J. Roberts.
Léo Chiachio and Daniel Giannone embroidering together.
While the majority of the featured work is contemporary, of special note is the inclusion of Allen Porter’s 1955 piece from the Leslie-Lohman collection. Most likely inspired by a drawing by Paul Cadmus, could Porter’s use of needlepoint to portray a casual intimacy between two men be considered an early “queering” of craft? Across generations, artists have embraced craft’s connotations with the home. Then and now, these thread-based mediums convey distinct messages that speak to the relationships and sapacwe create as LGBTQ peoples. I must thank Jonathan D. Katz for his championing of this exhibition through its iterations; Hunter O’Hanian and the Leslie-Lohman board for affording me this opportunity; and Rob Hugh Rosen, Jerry Kajpust, Kris Grey, and the Museum’s crew for production and promotions. I am grateful to Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra, Todd Oldham, and Debbie Stoller for their generosity of time and insights in leading gallery tours; to Erin Hosier for her editorial guidance; to Stefano Catalani and Edwin Ramoran for their curatorial dialogue; to Louisa Brown for her production assistance; to Hanna Exel for her hard work and keen ideas as my curatorial assistant; and to Matthew Bautista for his love, support, and advice. Most of all, I sincerely and humbly thank the artists for their trust, commitment, and talent.
The work of a community member in Atlanta helping create Aubrey Longley-Cook’s RuPaul Cross Stitch Animation Workshop.
John Chaich Curator
Adamson, Glenn. Thinking through Craft. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2007. Print.
Bryan-Wilson, Julia. “Queerly Made: Harmony Hammond’s Floorpieces.” The Journal of Modern Craft. Volume 2. Issue 1 (March 2009): 59-80. Print.
“LET THE THREADS BE ARTICULATE.”
Selfie w/ Pink Eye, 2013 Yarn on wood 52 x 32 inches Courtesy of the Artist
- ANNI ALBERS
“PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT.” - EVE KOSOFKY SEDGWICK
MELANIE BRAVERMAN Queer, 1999-2000 (detail) Antique fabric quilt patches, cotton thread, and silk ribbon 64 x 49 inches Collection of Hunter O’Hanian and Jeffry George 8
JAI ANDREW CARRILLO Queer Martyred by a Gay Culture: A Self-Portrait as Saint Sebastian, 2008 (detail) Denim, cotton thread, needles, and lace 36 x 26 inches Courtesy of the Artist
LIZ COLLINS Accumulated Pride, 2014 Cotton and other yarns loomed during Knitting Nation performance installations, 2005-2012 Dimensions variable Courtesy of the Artist
CHIACHIO & GIANNONE Familia GuaranĂ, 2009 Cotton threads, jewelry threads, and rayon on fabric 51 x 48 inches Courtesy of the Artists, Ruth Benzacar Gallery, Argentina and School Gallery Paris Photo by Daniel Kiblisky 10
BEN CUEVAS Genitosexual, 2009 Wool, silk, cotton, and polyester fiber-fill 12 x 6 x 3 inches Courtesy of the Artist 11
PIERRE FOUCHÉ The Judgment of Paris (after Wtewael), 2013 Bobbin lace and macramé in polyester braid, and wood 78.7 x 31.5 x 0.6 inches Courtesy of Whatiftheworld / Gallery, Cape Town
JAMES GOBEL The Fitting No. 1, 2007 Felt, yarn, and acrylic on canvas 84 x 72 inches Collection of Costello & Tagliapietra Photo courtesy of Kravits | Wehby, New York
JESSE HARROD Pensile Arrangement 2, 2013 (detail) Paracord, metal cock rings/strap-on supporting O rings 48 x 12 x 60 inches Courtesy of the Artist Photo by Terry Brown
AARON McINTOSH Fragment #3: Roses Are Red, 2012 Digital print, vintage fabric, and thread 30 x 20 inches Courtesy of the Artist
REBECCA LEVI Two Ladies, 2007 Cotton floss and cotton fabric 20 x 20 inches Courtesy of the Artist 14
ALLYSON MITCHELL Queer Un-Nation, 2011 Yarn and felt 36 x 48 inches Courtesy of the Artist and Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects, Toronto 15
AUBREY LONGLEY-COOK WITH COMMUNITY WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS RuPaul Cross Stitch Animation Workshop (Frame 17), 2013 Stills from video animation, front and back views (detail) Courtesy of the Artist
MARIA E. PIĂ‘ERES
ALLYSON MITCHELL AND JESSICA WHITBREAD
Bona Fide! (In Good Faith!), 2013 Cotton floss on plastic mounted on wood panel 24 x 22 inches Courtesy of the Artist and DCKT Contemporary, New York
Fuck Positive Women, 2012 Yarn on plastic and needle 12 x 8 inches Collection of Jessica Whitbread
JOHN THOMAS PARADISO Leather Pansy II, 2010 Leather, thread, and plastic hoop on basswood panel 10 x 10 x 1.5 inches Collection of Horst Boelendorf Photo by Pete Duvall
ALLEN PORTER Untitled, ca. 1955 Wool on cotton 27 x 33 inches Leslie-Lohman Collection, Gift of Timothy Stuart Warner 2012.48.1
L.J. ROBERTS The Queer Houses of Brooklyn in the Three Towns of Breukelen, Boswyck, and Midwout during the 41st Year of the Stonewall Era, (based on a 2010 drawing by Daniel Rosza Lang/ Levitsky with 24 illustrations by Buzz Slutzky on printed pin-back buttons), 2011 Poly-fill, acrylic, rayon, Lurex, wool, polyester, cotton, lamĂŠ sequins, and blended fabrics 138 x 114 x 108 inches Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Elaine Reuben Photo by the Smithsonian American Art Museum
SONNY SCHNEIDER Cum on Everybody, 2012 (detail) Wool yarn on terrycloth towel 24 x 15.75 inches Leslie-Lohman Collection, Gift of the Artist 2013.226.1
BUZZ SLUTZKY Body Party (Wiggle Pants, Ghost Boobs, Poppers), 2013 Courtesy of the Artist opposite
Wiggle Pants Discarded sweater fragment (by Alexa Newman), found costume tail, and thread 53 x 15 inches above left
Poppers T-shirt sleeve, dress strap, and thread 10 x 5 inches 22
Ghost Boobs Shoulder pad, ribbon, and thread 11 x 5 inches
NATHAN VINCENT Locker Room, 2011 Lion Brand yarn over Styrofoam and wood substructure 113 x 209 x 190 inches Courtesy of the Artist Photo by Stephen Miller
EXHIBITION PROGRAMS Visit LeslieLohman.org for dates, times, and updates and to make reservations as SPACE IS LIMITED.
ARTIST TALKS featuring Jai Andrew Carrillo, Aubrey Longley-Cook, Liz Collins, James Gobel, and Allyson Mitchell Melanie Braverman, Chiachio & Giannone John Thomas Paradiso, and Maria E. Piñeres Rebecca Levi, L.J. Roberts, Buzz Slutzky, and Nathan Vincent Chris Bogia, Jesse Harrod, Larry Krone, Aaron McIntosh, and Sheila Pepe
GUEST DOCENT GALLERY TOURS DEBBIE STOLLER author, Stitch n’ Bitch Nation series and co-founder and editor-in-chief, BUST magazine
TODD OLDHAM designer and author, Kid Made Modern
COSTELLO TAGLIAPIETRA womenswear designers and muses to featured artist James Gobel
RSVP REQUIRED for all exhibition programs. Visit LeslieLohman.org for details. 26
The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is the first and only LGBTQ art museum in the world dedicated to the mission of exhibiting and preserving LGBTQ art and of fostering the artists who create it. Accredited by the New York State Board of Regents, the Museum has a permanent collection of over twenty-two thousand objects, spanning more than three centuries of queer art. The Leslie-Lohman Museum hosts six to eight major exhibitions annually, artist talks, film screenings, panel discussions, readings and other events. In addition, it publishes THE ARCHIVE—a quarterly art newsletter and maintains a substantial research library. The Museum is a premier resource for anyone interested in the rich legacy of the LGBTQ community and its influence on and confrontation with the mainstream art world. There is no other organization like it in the world. The Leslie-Lohman Museum is operated by the LeslieLohman Gay Art Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit founded in 1987 by Charles W. Leslie and J. Frederic (Fritz) Lohman who have supported LGBTQ artists for over thirty years. The Leslie-Lohman Museum embraces the rich creative history of the LGBTQ art community by informing, inspiring, entertaining, and challenging all who enter its doors. 26 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013 LeslieLohman.org • (212) 431-2609 Tuesday - Sunday, 12 - 6 pm Thursday, 12 - 8 pm
#queerthreads @queerthreads @LeslieLohman
CHRIS BOGIA MELANIE BRAVERMAN JAI ANDREW CARRILLO CHIACHIO & GIANNONE LIZ COLLINS BEN CUEVAS PIERRE FOUCHÉ JAMES GOBEL JESSE HARROD LARRY KRONE REBECCA LEVI AUBREY LONGLEY-COOK AARON McINTOSH ALLYSON MITCHELL JOHN THOMAS PARADISO SHEILA PEPE MARIA E. PIÑERES ALLEN PORTER L.J. ROBERTS SONNY SCHNEIDER BUZZ SLUTZKY NATHAN VINCENT JESSICA WHITBREAD