York's Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation is home to a
special exhibition called Pink and Bent: The Art of
Queer Women until June 28. The exhibition
includes photographs, paintings, and installation
pieces primarily by queer- and lesbian-identified women.
Present are big names like Judy Chicago, Harmony Hammond,
and the Guerilla Girls, but finding their place among
these well-known artists are rising stars like Deborah
Bright and Grace Moon.
The importance of
a show like this is not lost on the contributing
artists. Sophia Wallace, whose portraits of butch women are
included in the exhibition, said, "There's just
very few venues and opportunities for queer women to
show their work. Especially when [the work] is about queer
female issues, it's marginalized."
photograph "Helen, Brooklyn" focuses on a
Jodie Foster look-alike with an Elvis pompadour,
flanked by a setting sun and an American flag, the
city skyline behind her. According to Wallace, she is
attempting to photograph a more diverse section of the
lesbian community. "I don't think that
butch women have been photographed in the way that I
photograph them," she said. "I'm
pushing for quality."
one of the show's cocurators, echoed Wallace's
concerns about the lack of attention
that innately queer art receives. "Queer
women shows don't come around often, especially those
that deal with the experience of being queer.
It's [usually] censored, put away," she said,
taking care to emphasize the show's "political
as well as artistic stance."
Grace Moon, whose
paintings "Nicole and Julie" and
"Lauren and Jennie" are currently on
display as part of the exhibition, thinks of the show as
having "picked up a conversation that has already
been started. It's part of an ongoing
message." That message? "I think there is
power in numbers," Moon said.
paintings mimic covers of lesbian pulp fiction books from
the '50s and '60s, taking captions directly from the
novel covers. "The Novel of a Love That Society
Forbids," read the block letters in "Nicole
and Julie." The painting is almost entirely
Norman Rockwell-esque, except that the two
butch women happen to be caressing one another underneath
their three-piece suits. But Moon rejects the Rockwell
connection and offers a different lens for her work.
Referencing the borrowed pulp-fiction captions, Moon
says her paintings are not political statements so much as
modern-day reinterpretations of queer artifacts.
"When you recast something in contemporary art,
you [have to] read it in that perspective," she
While featuring a
roster made up almost completely of female artists, the
Pink and Bent show does, however, include one
piece by a biological man. George Dudley's
"L.E.S.B.I.A.N." stands by the door. The
seven wooden letters, about 2 1/2 feet wide and just as
tall, are worn and cracked but just as significant as when
Dudley presented them for his master's thesis at the
Maryland Institute of Art in 1976. According to
Gallego, Dudley's piece was included not only
because it was "great in itself, but this was also a
gay man having his artwork offer visibility to queer
which has been a public, nonprofit foundation since 1990,
saw what might be its largest crowd ever at Pink
and Bent's opening night on May 20. It's
located at 26 Wooster St. in New York City. (Hannah
Clay Wareham, The Advocate)