The InsideOut proudly presents "Expletive Chapel: Lavender Heights"
An Installation by Aaron Wilder
September 14-November 1, 2019
Opening Reception: Saturday 14 September, 6-10pm
Closing Reception: Saturday 12 October, 6-10pm
21st & I Streets
Sacramento, CA 95811
Expletive Chapel: Lavender Heights is an art installation or artistic architectural intervention by Aaron Wilder to create an intersection between interior and exterior worlds through relatable, queer experiences. The InsideOut in Sacramento’s Lavender Heights neighborhood is a space that cannot be entered, but can instead be experienced directly from the street. Wilder has transformed The InsideOut into a sacred space for meditation out of his own as well as communal experiences with what can be considered the most profane: derogatory slurs.
This installation is a spatial experiment extending from the artist’s ongoing project entitled Expletive, an investigation into the possibilities of healing through the aestheticization of derogatory labels. Wilder employs vividness, repetition, and the form of text to disempower slurs used everyday by obscuring the word through the stacking of its letters on top of each other. What remains is an aesthetic and geometric arrangement of shapes. Wilder is acutely aware of the impact of derogatory slurs aimed at those in the queer community based on his own experience growing up in a conservative evangelical Christian environment. He was surrounded by family members trying to educate him on how to avoid those who are marginalized in society. All the while, he was secretly one of those marginalized “sinners.”
For Expletive Chapel: Lavender Heights, Wilder has transformed two of The InsideOut’s windows into reversed stained glass beacons through the deconstruction of four of the most common slurs applied to individuals within (or perceived to be within) the queer community. As these are reversed stained glass windows with their light source inside as opposed to outside, their beauty is characterized by what they illuminate in the exterior world, not the origins of the deconstructed slurs or their inherent architectural form. They emphasize the beauty of the human rainbow that is the community of Lavender Heights. The artist has placed his lived experience in the windows. Looking at a distance, these designs appear as abstract ornaments. Looking closer, one can see very different motifs comprising the breadth of human experiences.
In the inner space, viewable only through the remaining, central window, Wilder has created a chapel of sorts that will evolve over the duration of the installation. Traditionally, a chapel is a site that has been sanctified by holy rituals, relics, and saints. Instead, Wilder is creating a chapel sanctified by the history of Lavender Heights and the current struggles and triumphs of the Lavender saints who make it their home. Throughout the period of the installation, Wilder will be adding relics symbolizing the lived experiences of those in the Sacramento queer community.
Wilder seeks to transform the whole of the space into a visual reflection of local contemporary and historical queerness with an impact greater than the power of spoken slurs. The resulting sacred space can be thought of as a centering place where the cosmic planes of heaven, earth, and hell are all in contact. At the center of the installation is a phantasmagorical mirror where the head of the artist and the head of the viewer are combined through a shared experience of perseverance through suffering. Wilder’s work aspires to be a setting embedded in the Sacramento queer community for new rituals that make us larger than our individual selves through a shared pride of belonging.
This exhibition was curated by Mehran Mesbah.
Aaron Wilder is an interdisciplinary artist who blurs boundaries between the analog and the digital, the public and the private, and the unassuming and the instigative. He uses his own experiences and sense of identity as a lens through which he explores the introspective and social processes of contemporary culture. Through an analytical deconstruction of these processes, his artistic approach is akin to that of an anthropologist, sociologist, and psychologist combined. Wilder’s concept-driven projects all incorporate his core belief that art can and should be used as a tool for generating critical thinking, dialogue, knowledge sharing, and understanding between individuals with divergent world perspectives.
Wilder’s work tends to be very analytical as a way to better understand social constructs impacting his sense of identity. A social construct is a social mechanism or category developed by society that forwards perception of an individual or group that is created culturally as opposed to biologically. Social constructs include gender, race, religion, and many other groupings that strongly impact an individual’s sense of identity. These social constructs are perpetuated by how a child is raised, language and other communication practices, and visible signs including advertising, popular culture, and education. While there are some innocuous impacts of social constructs, there are also many negative aspects, including perpetuating systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Wilder’s intent is to foster dialogue about the relationship between individual identity and the multiple, intersecting forms of social construction in our culture. By creating artwork that reflects his own process of social deconstruction, he endeavors to encourage viewers to similarly disentangle their individual identities from social constructs through introspection and discussion. This is Wilder’s form of activism.
Originally from Arizona, Aaron Wilder has also lived in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and France and currently resides in San Francisco. Wilder has been creating art since 2002 and has shown at exhibitions across the United States as well as in Italy. Wilder received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2017. Venues that have recently displayed his work include Adeline's Lab in Berkeley, Amos Eno Gallery in New York, ARC Gallery in Chicago, Bass & Reiner in San Francisco, Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas, the Boston Society of Architects, Con Artist Collective in New York, Fireplace Gallery at Mount Hood Community College in Oregon, the Foundry Art Centre in Missouri, GearBox Gallery in Oakland, the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Georgia, Hera Gallery in Rhode Island, the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, the Museum of Northern California Art in Chico, the Petaluma Arts Center in California, the Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts in Providence, Root Division in San Francisco, Saint Mary's College Museum of Art in California, the San Francisco Mint, Santa Paula Art Museum in California, Site:Brooklyn in New York, the Studio Door in San Diego, and Wanderlife Gallery in Philadelphia.
About The InsideOut
The InsideOut is an alternative art space located on 21st and I in midtown Sacramento. Consisting of three bay windows, the space is an extension of a ground floor apartment at the Flop Haus, a structural zeitgeist in the community. Since the entire space is viewed from the street, site-specific installations and projects have the potential to be viewed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The InsideOut promotes artistic collaboration, exploration, and experimentation across a large spectrum of the Sacramento community. Since The InsideOut is a not for profit art space, the focus is on work that has no commercial viability. Artists receive an opportunity to experiment across disciplines, media, and personal boundaries in order to grow artistically and professionally. On the other hand, the public and greater community will have the chance to engage with art that takes risks, that looks at art for its possibilities, not its conventions.