A Group Show Including the Art of Aaron Wilder
June 4-July 17, 2021
12 North Jackson Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63105
The St. Louis Artists Guild is proud to present the exhibition It Was All Very Queer, a national juried exhibition examining contemporary queer artists residing within the United States. The exhibition examines contemporary queer artists' work investigating identity, social norms, inclusivity, and the celebration of being queer.
Juror: Brendan Fernandes
Brendan Fernandes (b. 1979, Nairobi, Kenya) is an internationally recognized Canadian artist working at the intersection of dance and visual arts. Currently based out of Chicago, Brendan's projects address issues of race, queer culture, migration, protest, and other forms of collective movement. Always looking to create new spaces and new forms of agency, Brendan's projects take on hybrid forms: part ballet, part queer dance hall, part political protest... always rooted in collaboration and fostering solidarity. Brendan is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program (2007) and a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Fellowship (2014). In 2010, he was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award, and is the recipient of a prestigious 2017 Canada Council New Chapters grant. Brendan is also the recipient of the Artadia Award (2019), a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2020) and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant (2019). His projects have shown at the 2019 Whitney Biennial (New York); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York); the Museum of Modern Art (New York); The Getty Museum (Los Angeles); the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa); MAC (Montreal); among a great many others. He is currently artist-in-residence and Assistant Professor at Northwestern University and represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.
Work from Aaron Wilder's Expletive project is included in the exhibition. In 2019, Wilder was invited to create a site-specific installation related to Expletive at The InsideOut in Sacramento, California. This installation was called Expletive Chapel: Lavender Heights and consisted of two phases. The first, foundational phase was to transform the smaller, side windows of the space into light boxes that appear to be reversed stained glass windows (with light emanating from inside to outside as opposed to the typical light mediation of stained glass windows from outside to inside) and to transform the interior installation space into a kind of chapel. The light boxes serving as reversed stained-glass featured textual deconstructions of the four most common derogatory slurs applied to individuals within (or assumed/appearing to be within) the queer community. The interior space was completely covered with black fabric with the exception of a rectangle in the center that served as a screen for the projection of a slow-moving, abstract animation of the artist's self-portrait (deriving from Wilder's Invisible Self-Portrait experiment) moving across the threshold from completely negative space to completely positive space and back again along the color spectrum. There was also a sound component of recordings of Wilder's voice pronouncing elongated sounds of the individual letters of each derogatory slur depicted in the light box windows, but played simultaneously as a rhythmic, repeated, meditative sound. The second phase revolved around research conducted at the Lavender Library, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit, public library in Sacramento, on the history of the local queer community as well as interviews of self-identified queer individuals whose lives intersected with the Sacramento LGBTQ+ community in some way. Wilder then sourced objects symbolizing the lived experiences of his interviewees and people he learned about through his research at the Lavender Library. After sourcing these objects, Wilder painted them lavender and inserted them in the chapel-like space of the interior of the first phase of the installation. This project explored the lived experiences and resiliency of the Sacramento area’s LGBTQ+ community in response to demographic and political shifts; through community engagement responding to the perpetuation of homophobia, transphobia, and derogatory slurs; and by exploring a sense of community cohesion taking into account the possibility of intersectionality coexisting with individuality. Two of the lavender-painted objects from the installation at The InsideOut, Expletive Chapel: Lavender Heights (BOOK OF JOB REVISITED) and Expletive Chapel: Lavender Heights (GAY STAY SPRAY), are featured in the Saint Louis Artists' Guild exhibition It Was All Very Queer.