Photo Eric McNatt
June is an exciting time for the LGBTQ community, and arguably nowhere does Pride Month better than NYC. With each borough putting on its own Pride Parade, the city becomes a rainbow of queer-centric activities. At the the non-profit Queer|Art, this month-long celebration of diversity and inclusion presents a unique opportunity to bring an alternative type of event to the community. Hosted at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg as part of Pride@Wythe for its second year, Queer|Art|Pride brings together a showcase of work by alumni of their mentorship program in an environment designed to be a safe space for taking artistic risks and creating deeper connections between queer artists. It will include pieces in all four media that the program’s fellows work in, promising an exciting event.
The artists to be featured in this two-night event are all past participants in Queer|Art’s mentorship program. Founded in 2009 as a means of bringing mentors to a generation of LGBTQ artists who lost these rolemodels in the AIDS crisis, this program aims to foster support for queer perspectives, stories, and identities that have historically and systemically been repressed within the broader art community. Each year around ten emerging queer artists working in film, literature, performance, and visual art are selected and matched with older, established, out artists. Throughout the course of the year-long mentorship, an intergenerational community is fostered, building the foundation for greater exchange in the queer art scene.
Last year Queer|Art initiated the Pride showcase as a means of checking back in on their former fellows and seeing what they’ve been working on since the end of their mentorships. In addition, the event serves to further Queer|Art’s mission of promoting more intergenerational exchange and a more involved queer art community. Through this environment of mutual support and growth, the aim is to make space for artistic risk-taking. Surrounded by fellow artists and a small, welcoming group of the public, this event allows queer voices, both new and more established, to be heard in experimental ways.
In this intimate, 70-person setting, Queer|Art|Pride will showcase works by Camilo Godoy, Melissa Li, Tommy Pico, Nicole Goodwin, Justin Sayre, Justine Williams, Sasha Wortzel, Morgan Bassichis, Samantha Nye, Guadalupe Rosales, Eva Peskin, Kerry Downey, and Michael de Angelis (with ANIMALS), and their collaborators. Running over two nights, the event will be broken down into three sections. The first on Thursday, June 21 at 8pm Queer|Art|Pride: Live will be hosted by experimental theater artist (and Queer|Art mentor) Moe Angelos, taking the form of a Salon and encompassing a variety of recently completed readings and performances. On Friday, June 22 at 7:30pm, the happenings will continue with Queer|Art|Pride: Cinema, showing a pre-release of Tu Me Manques by Rodrigo Bellott. Later from 11pm – 1am the celebrations will conclude with Queer|Art|Pride: Alumni Art Jam hosted by The Illustrious Blacks and encompassing an eclectic roundup of music, performance art, slideshows, music videos and more.
As artists from various years of Queer|Art’s mentorship program interact with mentors, the public, and each other, the curators of the event hope to build opportunities for collaboration on the foundation of shared experience and mutual respect. In this moment of global celebration of diversity through Pride Month, Queer|Art hopes to empower a broader network of artists. As a part of NYC Pride, this stands out as a unique approach to the celebration of diversity and inclusion at the heart of the month. While most events center around large parties and group experiences such as the March, this art-focused event fosters creativity and community building on a more individual level. Through these connections, participants in the two evenings will enjoy a very different aspect of the LGBTQ community than what one typically sees in the sea of strangers at a West Village bar during the fourth weekend of June.
Queer|Art|Pride’s timing also allows prospective fellows interested in applying to the mentorship program to see the work of past participants and get a taste for the community they could be joining. With the application open through July 18th, Queer|Art|Pride gives those interested in the program a taste of the community they would get to engage with. And with 5% of all ticket sales from Pride at Wythe going to Visual AIDS, a New York based nonprofit leveraging art to fight AIDS, the event is sure to be a refreshing, community oriented experience during NYC Pride week.