The LSU Museum of Art is premiering two fall exhibitions exploring LGBTQ+ themes: The Shaping of Us: Queerness in Ceramics, August 3–October 22, 2023, and Reveal: Photographs by Jerry Siegel, September 1–November 12, 2023.
The exhibition Reveal: Photographs by Jerry Siegel, on view September 1–November 12, 2023, explores identity and gender fluidity within the drag and transgender community, as seen through the lens of Alabama artist Jerry Siegel. The intimate images contrast the individual to their stage character through portraiture and sequential imagery. Before any photographs are taken, Siegel learns the personal and professional history of the subjects, allowing him to visually record their emotional identity through classically-lit and framed compositions. The photographer fearlessly captures their personas. He doesn’t shy away from detailed depictions of bodies representing all shapes, sizes, genders, and colors, exemplifying the idea that there is not one standard definition of beauty—it can be found in everyone.
Siegel was born and raised in Selma, Alabama, and graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta. Initially the team photographer for the Atlanta Hawks in the 1980s, he quickly established himself as one of the South’s leading artists. His first monograph, FACING SOUTH, Portraits of Southern Artists, was published by the University of Alabama Press in 2011. His second book, Black Belt Color, documents the unique, cultural landscape of the South, concentrating on the Black Belt region of Alabama. The series has gained national recognition by exposing the beauty and culture of an easily overlooked area of the deep South. His work is in numerous public, private, and corporate collections, including the Do Good Fund, the High Museum of Art, and the Georgia Museum of Art, all in Georgia, and the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama. Siegel has shown extensively in many major museums including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in Louisiana, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the Telfair Museum, Jepson Center for the Arts, and the Morris Museum of Art, all in Georgia, and the Montgomery Museum of Art, the Jule Colins Smith Museum, and the Mobile Museum of Art, all in Alabama. A commissioned body of work was created for the Columbus Museum in Georgia for the 2009 solo exhibition, Now and Then, Snapshots of the South. Siegel was awarded the Grand Prize of the first Artadia Award in Atlanta in 2009.
Curated in partnership with Andy Shaw, Associate Professor of Ceramic at LSU, The Shaping of Us: Queerness in Ceramics, on view August 3–October 22, 2023, explores personal and sexual identity, societal pressures, and issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community as related through the perspective of two diverse artists, Joseph Kraft and Heather Mae Erickson. The exhibition was inspired by the idea of using ceramics as a catalyst for dialogue, a means to raise awareness, and an opportunity to draw disparate communities together. Erickson and Kraft each bring their own unique histories and perspectives to the project, with the resulting artworks representing two very personal stories and responses to how their respective identities drive their artistic research, production, and aesthetic.
In preparation for the show, Kraft and Erickson were tasked with creating new and unique work, with each allotted approximately twenty-eight linear feet in the gallery. While they were directed to respond artistically to the societal and personal pressures associated with their gender identity, incorporating ceramics as their main media was the only defined restriction. The finished works represent a personal journey and give viewers an intimate view into the values, philosophies, and histories that represent them as individuals.
Kraft lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. While his artistic practice is rooted in clay, he has expanded his use of media to include drawing and printmaking as complementary vistas for his ceramic illustrations. He masterfully translates two-dimensional lines into three-dimensions utilizing an extrusion technique. Paired with brightly-colored block prints of male figures undertaking daily activities, the tableaux relay a sense of whimsy, action, and delicate intimacy.
Erickson, Assistant Professor and Ceramics Area Coordinator for Western Carolina University in North Carolina, and Kraft’s former professor at Alfred University, focuses her research and artistic production on studio art practice, with emphasis on reaching audiences beyond her workspace and community. To this end, she conceives methods for story-sharing and reflection by empowering students to develop projects that benefit others, a practice she boldly achieves through her own artwork. Erickson is the founder of Pride Pots: Community Conversations, a community-building art experience centered around hard conversations on LGBTQ+ issues and controversies.
Aligning with LSU’s Roadmap to Diversity, the University’s 2020 strategic plan to accomplish diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI), the Museum has developed unique collaborative programming in consultation with LSU Residential Life, the LSU LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Caucus, and Baton Rouge Pride. The free opening reception and panel discussion, Gender Identity and Social Constructs, is on Friday, September 1, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. in the museum.
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Shaw Center for the Arts
100 Lafayette St, Baton Rouge, LA 70801