Queer Art Collective: Explorations of Queer Identities

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The CSU Stanislaus Queer Art Collective was established in 2019 in an effort to create a sense of community and inclusivity for LGBTQ+ students, as well as our allies. We understand the importance having a safe space to be visible, supported, and respected. We also understand the extreme importance of having this space, at this time, and in this political climate. As far as socio-political history is concerned, the LGBTQ+ community has been both persecuted and celebrated in the United States. We have been characterized as having sociopathic personality disorders, criminalized, hunted, beaten, killed, and labeled as outcasts. LGBTQ+ persons have been proven to be at a higher risk of suicide, homelessness, and hate-driven violence. It is also true, however, that the LGBTQ+ community and our allies have a history of persevering and fighting for equality and justice. From the 1969 Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, and our first Pride Parade in 1970. Still, it is evident that there is work to do. We continue to find ourselves in a position of defense, where we are regularly forced to defend not only ourselves, but our friends, family, community. We recognize that LGBTQ+ rights also intersect with women’s rights, the rights of people of color, as well as those who are in poverty. In the United States, most recently, we have seen Donald Trump’s administration’s effort to attack and limit the rights of our trans brothers and sisters. We’ve seen those in a position of political power support homophobic, transphobic, racist, bigoted, and misogynist sentiments and laws. This is why organizing, creating a safe space, and learning from one another’s experiences will always be important to our community. As long as we are targeted, as long as we are discriminated against, we will strive for peace, equality, and justice. We will be visible, we will be supported, and we will be respected.

Stephanie Jacinto

Faith, Oil paint, 2019

Amador Costa In my work, I depict the struggle of whether to become who I was raised to be or who I am. This struggle comes from being raised Catholic and always being taught or conditioned to fear being different. Using imagery common in the Catholic faith and working with warm and cool colors in my work represents the struggle between myself and those in the church that don’t agree with how I express myself. Through my work I also address my issue with some of those people of the Catholic Church who refuse to change and reject the smallest thing they are not accustomed too.I’ve always practiced my faith the same as a regular Catholic, but when I come wearing clothing more eccentric than a flannel and being myself they don’t see me as one of them. Although I struggle with this experience my work gives me a sense of freedom when creating it, and with entering it into this show I’m taking the next step in accepting who I am.

Bowie, acrylic on plexiglass, 2019

Bryce Neuner After his passing in January 2016, I had wanted to create an artwork to commemorate the legacy of the amazing musician David Bowie. The genius of Bowie, born David Robert Jones in 1947, was his ability to reinvent himself to express his changing ideologies about music, art and culture. He created various personas throughout his fifty-four-year career and each one reflected the ongoing exploration of his own identity and how he connected with other people. He would create a new name and identity for himself as he worked on a new album and would perform on tour as that persona. I find David Bowie endlessly fascinating and the music he created left ann indelible mark on the world. As well as musical icon, David Bowie was also an inspiration for people in the LGBTQ+community for his fluid gender and sexual identity. Early in his career Bowie performed in makeup and wore feminine clothes, creating a sense of androgyny that made him an even more intriguing personality. Bowie came out as gay in 1972 while exploring his Ziggy Stardust persona and later as bisexual in 1976, having an open relationship policy with his then wife, Mary Barnett. Bowie was able to explore his sexuality and gender while in the public eye, creating music with themes about love and alienation that resonated with people who shared the same feelings. Although he is gone, David Bowie’s incredible impact on music, art and culture will never be forgotten.

Adult, Crayola marker on paper

Christopher Rodriguez A thought or feeling can be expressed through an image and all the components of that image act to explain or enhance. I strive to emulate artwork that stops you for moments compelling you to see the marks of the artist, all the physical components, as well as the conversation of theme that can arise in a piece. Before I physically create a finished art piece the idea for what it is meant to be starts of as a flashing thought that sparks when the mind is most fluid and open to creativity. If it is interesting or important then pretty soon I start craving a pencil and paper to make the concept permanent. That scribble of a loose thought is the start of an art piece for me. My art is about the connection I have with myself and others and the intricacies--flexibility, strength, tension, etc.--of that connection; the reasons things are done and the origins of those explanations. As a bisexual in the lgbtq+ community comments and the overall negativity directed towards how someone wishes to express themselves, who they are and who they love affects me. Therefore, I wish to challenge the negativity through my art.

Enough, Acrylic on canvas

Cristi Denney Creative expression has always been a vital component in my life. As a child, I had great difficulty communicating my thoughts and feelings easily with others. Art gave me a voice. My work focuses on concepts relating to psychology, such as perception and cognitive processes. I am interested in creating spaces for others that serve both as an interactive activity and an opportunity for self-growth. By utilizing a combination of two-dimensional surfaces and installation methods, my work can be viewed in a variety of ways. There is a constant push and pull dichotomy of revealing versus concealing information that is present within my work. In some of my artwork, black light elements are incorporated to manipulate the work itself and unfold divergent layers of cognizance. Bright and bold colors are used to create unusual, contrasting compositions; I like to combine arbitrary colors that seem incongruent to mesh well with one another. I draw from my personal life experiences to try and relate to others in a broad manner. Each body of work pertains to a specific time and moment in life, which helps facilitate different perspectives to be linked together. I believe that all living things are connected within the universe and every individual can benefit from this vast relationship. A mentor of mine once told me that the more personal your art is, the more relatable it is to others. I think this is a wise statement—a true one. The more ugly and taboo the topic, the more interesting and captivating it becomes. Perhaps this is why art has appealed to me so much, a beneficial avenue of communication beyond the usage of the verbal language; creation that is being constructed from a deep crevice within my psyche, aching to escape and to breathe--to be free. Released.

James, relief printmaking, 2019

Elias Rosas Generally, a lot of my work is influenced by nature, specifically plant life. I’ve always had a fondness for the organic forms and the beauty that each individual plant has. Portraiture is something I’ve done a few times, but I haven’t combined portraiture with my love for nature before. This print is a portrait of my boyfriend James that I did in my printmaking class. Initially, for this project, I knew I wanted to do a portrait of him and immediately this picture of him from the previous summer at the beach came to mind. That has always been one of my favorite pictures of him so that is where I started. This portrait holds a lot of sentimental value because James is actually going to the University of Arizona the upcoming Fall semester. I wanted this piece to be about our separation and connection along with our unique relationship. To do this I took an image of him that I hold dear to me and put in in a foreign setting, the more aired climate of Arizona, to establish the separation we are going through. However, to show how we are still connected I included the Joshua trees because the Joshua tree can be found in both Arizona and California; so whenever either of us sees those trees we can remember that connection. James is actually a dance major and his favorite form of dance is ballet. I wanted to represent this part of him in some way so I modeled the Joshua trees in the background after common ballet poses. As for the color selection, James’ favorite color is red and I’ve been on a personal crusade to make him enjoy the color pink more, so I choose to make it monochrome. Ever since I met James he has been a muse to my work; The way he moves as a dancer inspires me. The way I was able to capture his movement and expression in the print will always bring a smile to my face. I wanted this piece to be a reminder to both of us that despite the distance between us we’re still always connected.

Oh God, I Guess I’m Normal, charcoal, 2019

Evan Strope Art has been an outlet for me for as long as I can remember. Without it I am not sure where I would be today. While art has held such a high regard in my life, it is not easy for me to define exactly what it is. I find that most art to me nowadays does not express the same things that I wish to express. I have struggled with connecting to how other artists view the world. I hope that through my pieces the viewer can find a different point of view in life; a new one. A different one. Either way, just have fun. Whether you think my art is weird or inspiring, just have fun with it. Don’t think too hard about it. As long as you as a viewer get some sort of reaction from my pieces, that’s what I think a successful piece is.

Color Figure, color pastel, 2019

Humberto Maldonado When I began to understand that my sexual orientation and gender identity is not exactly heteronormative, my life became a game of survival in my traditional Mexican-American household. From keeping my sexual preferences hidden, to only taking a role that is socially accepted. I laughed at any gay joke and I always remembered to say “no homo” to blend in. I was the player in this game called “Surviving Homophobia” because I was scared to gets caught, scared my true identity would be discovered. While I have played the game in the past, my art has helped me to quit the game and start to accept myself. My objective is to paint myself in a different perspective in hopes that might help translate into my life. I did my best to frame my situation as playing a game. I found it less stressful to approach it this way. It made fitting in easier for me. When accepting my true self there will be less need to hide, so I thought. But now I have more need for freedom. I express my needs in the pigments of my imagination. These pigments stand still to form an image of the game I was playing. I gained the skill to fit in whenever the situation calls for it. Now, my paintings show I was not surviving; they show the damage of hiding behind a closed door.

Childlike Fascination, screen print, 2019

Jendayi Larios Although people define their own identities, a standard centered on evolving concepts of masculinity and femininity and their “correct� allocations remain. Being the one to break those rules can lead to questioning, especially from within. In a context ignoring the external and internal taboos of contradicting standard male expression, my work presents a transgender man’s fascination with femininity. Taking inspiration from my experiences and the flag I am slowly growing more proud of, viewers see snapshots of aspects I once thought invalidated my identity. This exhibition provided the perfect opportunity to contribute to the dialogue on social norms and identity, showing such deviations are okay and can be embraced. Beginning as photographs, the works were built up from a focus on light and shadow shapes over a focus on the subject matter. In the monochrome piece Nail Art, the charcoal shows this method more clearly. And inspired by the transgender flag, Childlike Fascination utilized pink and blue to represent femininity and a male figure, respectively. For this piece, screen printing further allowed the colors to remain true to the base design in ways that the original reduction linocut did not. Hopefully, the path of self-discovery within these works will inspire others to continue defining their own identities regardless of whatever society deems standard.

Bath tub, screen print, acrylic, 2018

Magdalena Gonzales Youth is a period of infinite possibilities and moments that are integral to the creation of identity. Memories are elastic, and every visit distorts them until they fit the narrative. My work focuses on the bond between myself and my family, illustrating moments both mundane and fantastic that tell our story. I want to develop a story or space that lures in viewers and makes them reminisce on their own past. As I grow older and more independent, my childhood memories become a refuge, whether they were happy, sad, or neither. They all jumble together and overlap, forming a hodge-podge of mixed emotions and everchanging scenery. Using these bits and pieces to make an image makes them more real and establishes them as evidence when I am having trouble remembering what it is that motivates me and makes me who I am. Every day it changes, but every mark reminds me that at one point it was true.

The Devil in Church, acrylic and water color on paper, 2019


Pizano-Gallegos I grew up in a very religious family. We went to church every Sunday and I had to go through years of Sunday school. This church was incredibly homophobic and I remember just feeling awful about myself every time the subject came up during mass. In my last year of Sunday school, same sex marriage was just legalized and this lady brought up the subject in class. She said, “With gay marriage being legalized, it’s like letting the devil into church.” From that moment on, every time I was in church, I felt like I was the devil. Those people believe that our plain existence is evil and repulsive. I just wanted to draw myself the way the people in my church saw me. So, for this piece I chose to draw myself sticking out my tongue and holding up the middle finger.

Unknown Outcome #3, mixed media, 2019

Vanessa Aguilera Creating art work has always been a source of freedom for me. Having a learning disability has made learning difficult for me over the years, as well as having to learn English as my third language. I need to see, hear and feel how things are done in order to fully understand and retain the information given to me. As a result, art has come relatively easily to me, for it required all of those skills in working with different media. I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember. I love working with a wide range of media and materials it is fascinating to me. Art allows me to express my thoughts and explore my passion, but at times work out of my comfort. I work with printmaking, sculpture, and oil painting. In having friends and family in the LGBTQ community, so therefore; like having and making artwork that anyone can have a connection with, but most importantly that the viewer interoperate the at work from their own perspective on what they think it means. I’m my of work that I create is a variety of mixed media. That can be seen throughout my boast of work that includes painting, drawing and printmaking. In my most recent work is something that is completely different. It is something that I have experimented with and got out of my comfort zone to create. With a creation of multiparty layers of transparent colors over a figure, but that was worked over to create depth and texture but also figures that were within all those layers. This piece I just want the viewer to connect and interpret the art how they wish. In my second piece Identity I want people to connect to it. It may be how someone may see themselves or just how one some might feel how someone may see them.


David Olivant

Susan Stephenson

Jessica Gomula-Kruzic

Martin Azevedo

Humberto Maldonado

Stephanie Jacinto

Christopher Rodriguez

Evan Strope

Sarah Machado

Ashton Kellman-Holmes

Dr. Staci G. Scheiwiller

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