Des Moines, IA
For Today I Am a Boy: Contemporary Queer Abstraction will be the first exhibition in the Des Moines Art Center’s 70-year history to focus exclusively on queer subject matter. It marks a substantial shift in the Art Center’s programming by purposely including queer voices that have been left out of art history. Assistant Curator Jared Ledesma is organizing the exhibition.
For more than a century, many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer artists have turned to the language of abstraction to illustrate diverse facets of sexuality and gender. In response to specific struggles—such as the criminalization of homosexuality, the Civil Rights Movement, and the AIDS crisis—queer artists have embraced abstraction to communicate their unauthorized desires and identities through an accepted mode of art. Marsden Hartley’s modernist portrait of his fallen lover, Louise Fishman’s queer feminist canvases, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s tender, conceptual works are but a few past examples. Currently, abstract art that embodies this mode of expression has gained the moniker “Queer Abstraction,” and has become a growing aesthetic force during the present, unsettling era. For Today I Am a Boy unites contemporary artists who utilize the amorphous possibilities of abstraction to convey what it means to exist on the margins.
Aligned with the Art Center’s curatorial priorities, For Today I Am a Boy features both established artists who are affiliated with major galleries and emerging artists who represent themselves. Artists confirmed to date include Mark Bradford, Edie Fake, Harmony Hammond, John Paul Morabito, Carrie Moyer, Sheila Pepe, Prem Sahib, and Jonathan VanDyke. The project also includes the commissioning of three works by Elijah Burgher, Tom Burr, and Mark Joshua Epstein.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website