Heller Gallery is pleased to present Collaborations with Queer Voices, an exhibition produced by FagSigns, a queer neon fabrication studio based in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibition is curated and organized by FagSigns founders Matthew Day Perez and Kate Hush. The exhibition features original neon works by a broad spectrum of notable queer artists in a collective declaration of where the LGBTQ community has been and where it is heading. With it we are celebrating 2019 NYC Pride, WorldPride and commemorating the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
Neon is a bygone marketing tool that advertises, announces, or points to something or somewhere. Language is an increasingly important aspect to the LGBTQ ecosystem. By marrying the two, FagSigns invited ten artists -- whose identities and work span a full spectrum of age, gender, race and medium -- to meditate on a word or phrase and unpack that language into light. The resulting works produced yet another spectrum: ranging from pieces with a visual language that is confrontationally charged, and others more subtle and lyrical in nature.
Participating artists include: Alok Vaid-Menon, a gender non-conforming artist who challenges the gender binary. For this presentation, they generated a playful and bright piece GirlBoy. “where they see dissonance; we see harmony. there is no polarity here, just poetry.”
Thomas Page Mcbee, a writer whose contribution, Self Made, asks us to unpack the presented phrase. This is a phrase that troubles him in its suggestion but also reminds him in that troubling: None of us are “self-made," even those of us who've had to fight hard to live at all in our bodies. Gabriella Grimes, a black queer artist from New York City who challenges common perceptions of race, gender, and sexuality in the western world. For this show they created an illustration in light titled Caress, that depicts a femme, interracial couple embracing against a vibrant background. Deborah Czeresko, a New York based artist whose work encompasses sculpture, performance, and collaboration. Czeresko’s Oh God is a two-part sculpture that lights ablaze neon flames, rising from a grill with a vintage women’s trophy topper, which stands in for the modern-day Joan of Arc. Stephanie Lifshutz, a Brooklyn based artist and photographer. She plays with the history of signage and uses it as a direct instruction to the viewer, inviting those who read the sign to act of their own volition - you heard me the first time.
Rooney, a New York based illustrator, presents a limp wristed cowboy that harkens back to a bygone era of demarking location and signifying queer spaces. Wednesday, a London based artist, designer and activist. Keep Going, a light hearted reminder and declarative statement that commands us to slow down and evaluate our worth. This work exemplifies her belief that ‘queer people are brilliantly powerful people who deserve to keep moving and growing.’ Shoog McDaniel, a self-declared “fat, queer, Floridian freak” who has been creating art in swamps since an early age. Their contribution, another mantra -- Take Up Space -- provokes us to be present and aware, and to literally take up space.
Patrick Church, a British multimedia artist, blurring the lines between art and fashion. Sometimes I Feel So Alone is a bold exploration of sexuality through vivid color. This juxtaposition of vulnerability and fearlessness is reflective of Patrick's own character, and it affords others to do the same. Kate Hush, a Brooklyn based artist transmitting a secret scene in Five 107’s Outside of a Silver Buick. Her neon thriller captures a gathering of women running amok in a lake that is both familiar and distant. In shape and form this work harkens back to femme fatale thrillers and a drive-in double feature.
Brooklyn-based FagSigns, the queerest, brightest, neon shop that ever existed, is an inclusive public-access neon studio, with an emphasis on community engagement and eroding barriers to othered folks seeking work in the creative sector.