VCU’s ‘Untended’ Explores Queer Aesthetic
VCU’s FAB gallery presents the exhibition, Untended, featuring a look at the crossroads of queerness and craft work. The work of Aaron McIntosh and Jesse Harrod will be on display, both are MFA Craft/Material Studies Alumni, but don’t let the connotations of craft deter a visit or cast judgment of their forms without seeing this wonderland.
As with queer identities, these craft forms expand upon the practice and subvert our own notions of ‘good art’ to create an interesting queer aesthetic and experience. The exhibition is refreshing because it doesn’t rely on rainbows, unicorns, or same-sex marriage motifs as it crafts a queer vision. We’ve learned someone can’t easily or quickly identify bodies and now the same is applied to art, as our notions of ‘highbrow’ and ‘good’ are challenged. The artists seek to further their respective conceptual investigations into the relationship between craft and queerness in this exhibition, particularly how engagement with a certain ‘low-class’ of materials may align their work with other forms of queer cultural production located outside the normative art-historical mainstream.
Jesse Harrod and Aaron McIntosh, utilizing a colorful array of found, salvaged, repurposed textiles, contemporary queer fiber, sculpture, and installation art aim to produce artwork that associates the domestic with the nostalgic and the (psycho-)sexual. For both artists, an engagement with commonplace textiles and domestic handicrafts assist in locating their work thematically within the domain of personal, formative, and childhood experiences.
McIntosh’s work might an easier introduction into the space as he sources old porno mags and romance novels as materials for his sculptures and installations. One of most engaging pieces—because it is eye-level —is a bear made out of presumable gay bear magazines or erotica. The bear is places amongst a series of plants birthed from a smorgasbord of romance novels, erotica, pulp novels, pot holders, and paper. This parlays well into Harrod’s work.
For Harrod, the process of transforming ‘low-brow’ and hobbyist textiles into lush floral objects and environments mirrors a personal coming-out and self-celebration process; elevating degraded or dismissed materials and practices associated with the ultra-feminine into glorious, self-imagined ‘pleasure gardens.’ The exhibition also features new work by Herrod with crocheted forms stretched, ringed, and engrossing one another: not your mother’s crocheted winter sweaters.
Their work is simultaneously erotic and innocent, reminiscent of an adolescent’s first curious glimpses into anatomy textbooks or a parent’s hidden magazine collection. By showcasing recent creations alongside one another, Harrod and McIntosh aim to display how their mutual interests in childhood domestic environments/objects and formative sexual identity come to form differently, but in tandem to each other.
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Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
Sb Fuller is an artist in the VCU Sculpture + Extended Media MFA program. He graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with honors, earning a B.F.A. in Studio Art: Sculpture and a B.A. in History and Criticism of Art. He has had many solo exhibitions, including IFIDIDIT in the FAB Gallery last Fall in our very [...]January 15, 2014
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