Part III: Art
Here at Hidden Perspectives we were very fortunate to exhibit the work of great artists at our festival. In this post we hope to reminisce with those who visited the exhibit and paint a picture (pardon the pun) of the art which contributed to the festival for those who were unable to join us on the day.
Let us begin with with Mary Button’s Stations of the Cross: The Struggle For LGBT Equality which extended beautifully across an entire wall of the exhibition space. The piece consisted of a series of artistic representations of the Passion of Christ, depicting the story of his death from his sentencing to the laying of his body in the tomb. However, this series was like no other I had ever laid eyes upon as it combined the Passion story with images depicting the struggle for LGBT equality through the 20th and 21st century.
The vibrant colours of this piece held my attention, more reminiscent of stained glass windows than conventional Stations of the Cross. Each station aptly illustrated the many ways in which the pursuit of justice for LGBT peoples is embedded in the history of the United States. Whilst the audience’s experience was enhanced by the accompanying booklet, authored by Kitteredge Cherry.
Personally the 14 images succeeded in linking the crucifixion of Jesus with the history of LGBT people. The Tennessee artist paralleled each traditional Station of the Cross with a landmark event from LGBT history, for instance the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, the Stonewall Rebellion, the assassination of Harvey Milk, the AIDS pandemic, ex-gay conversion therapy, the murder of transgender Rita Hester, the ban on same-sex marriage and LGBT teen suicides. In linking the LGBT community’s struggle for equality with the Passion story Button provides the viewer with some stark comparisons; for instance, in Station 11 which marks the Crucifixion of Jesus Button depicts the reparative therapy involving electroshock treatment which was historically used to ‘cure’ homosexuality.
Continuing on our tour around the exhibition space we reach Bethany Fenton’s work. Being both a budding artist and a student of the University of Sheffield Biblical Studies department, Fenton produced a number of small drawings which were exhibited at the festival. Fenton explored the interaction of biblical passages and religious communities with the LGBT community, using a range of artistic styles from photorealistic drawings to graphic illustration more evocative of the comic book style. A memorable piece in Fenton’s collection was an image of two women kissing in front of a stained glass window which was clearly part of a church structure. It is not made clear whether the couple stand within the church walls or outside leaving it open to the viewer’s interpretation.
Neighbouring Fenton’s work was a piece with a very personal touch: ‘My love discovered’ created by Jade Pollard-Crowe. Pollard-Crowe selected biblical passages and paralleled them with love letters she had written with a loved one in mind. It is clear that the artist found no condemnation of her love for another woman present in the biblical texts and the viewer is left to interpret this piece from their own perspective and experiences.
On the final wall of the exhibition space we are met with the black and gold of STUDIO HER’s piece. Words from the New Testament passage 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 centre the piece which is surrounded by what appear to be two same-sex couples, a twist on the usual Adam and Eve imagery prevalent in contemporary art and imagery.
And finally we reach a trio of magnificent paintings by Richard Stott: ‘Intimacy with Christ triptych’. The images, created by oil and gold leaf on canvas, were truly captivating, the texture of the skin created by the paint speaking volumes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our brief stroll around the exhibition space; as one viewer commented it did truly house “excellent art courtesy of the Hidden Perspectives festival!”
Keep a look out for our next instalment which will cover the drama performed at the festival.