Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet


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Hidden Perspectives Photo Exhibition Summary

Hidden Perspectives Photo Exhibition

A colourful and engaging photo exhibition featuring 53 artworks submitted by staff and students at the University, and members of the public was on display in the Jessop West foyer during February.

LGBT history month

The curator of the exhibition, Dr Minna Shkul explained, “We wanted to give an opportunity to Sheffield’s LGBT* community to connect with LGBT history, to celebrate, and visualise gay life in the city. All photos were submitted by volunteer contributors following a call on social media, and it has been such a joy and privilege to curate the exhibition.”

The exhibition included both amateur and professional photographs. Contributors reflected deeply on the topic of LGBT history month, queering gender, sharing coming out stories, and visual memories of bullying they have experienced, as well as stories that had inspired them on their journey. Many images celebrated diversity in the Sheffield region, bonds of friendship and romance, and little things that make everyday life worth celebrating, like knitting, cakes, country walks, and gay bars. Among the exhibits was a collection of photos from students and teachers on Sheffield’s new LGBT* Studies module and portfolios of the LGBT Staff Network.

Launch Event

The launch event on Monday 23 February was a great success, as the foyer filled with visitors, including many exhibition contributors and members of the public. The evening’s highlight was Dr Mark Pendleton‘s (East Asian Studies) engaging lecture enjoyed by audience of over 50 people packed into the Jessop West Social Space. Dr Pendleton is one of the teachers on Sheffield’s LGBT* Studies module, and a co-editor of After Homosexual: Legacies of Gay Liberation (2014). His lecture, entitled “Thinking Queer about the Life of James Kirkup: Poet, Conscientious Objector and Japanophile”, explored Kirkup’s controversial life and poetry, and the idea of queering the past.

Examples from the exhibition

wombmanI ALSO LIKE GAY BARSKnitting

Further examples of photos can be found on social media, including Hidden Perspectives Facebook page, and on @Shkul_report and @HPerspectives on Twitter.

More information

The exhibition was also featured on Sheffield Live News, including an interview with Dr Minna Shkul and Dr Mark Pendleton.

Photo exhibition launch 1 Photo exhibition launch 3 Photo exhibition launch 4

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Recapping the Festival: Art

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.

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Mary Button talks Hidden Perspectives with Maddy Oakes

selfieCan you introduce yourself to our readers and give us an idea of what you do?

My name is Mary Button and I’m an artist and theologian based in Memphis, TN. I studied art as an undergraduate and after several years of making work I realized the depth of my interest in religion and decided to pursue that interest with further academic study. While in seminary I started making work more devotional in nature, like my Stations of Cross projects. After graduation I received a call to serve First Congregational Church in Memphis to serve as their Minister of Visual Art. I maintain a large community art studio at the church where I work with church members and community members to make art for our sanctuary. I also teach ethics and philosophy at a community college.

How did you get involved with Hidden Perspectives?

One of the organizers approached me about displaying my Stations of the Cross for LGBT Equality which were commissioned by Believe Out Loud as well as showcased by Kittredge Cherry on her Jesus in Love blog. I imagine they saw the work through one of those incredibly important resources here in the States.

Why do you think projects like Hidden Perspectives are important?

I absolutely think projects like Hidden Perspective are important! As an artist who makes socially conscious artwork I absolutely love attending events like Hidden Perspectives, it’s so important to make connections with other like-minded and creative people.

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Kittredge Cherry Interview by Bethany Fenton

Kitt w Portrait by Yarber cropped 800 px 10-21-2012 DSC_0115

Can you introduce yourself to our readers and give us an idea of what you do?

I am what many people believe is impossible: a lesbian Christian. I bring together two realities that appear to be opposites. I am too queer for most of the church — and too religious for most of the LGBT community. I am also an author, art historian, and retired minister in Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). My specialty is writing about LGBT spirituality and art, including the queer Christ and LGBT saints. My books include “Art That Dares” and I write regularly for the Jesus in Love Blog.

Do you have a personal story about LGBT and Religion/The Bible?

My Christian faith gave me the strength to come out as a lesbian almost 30 years ago. I grew up mostly secular and did not believe in God. I hid my sexual orientation in the closet and lived a lie because I was afraid of the stigma and discrimination against homosexuality. My father’s death in 1983 led me to go an interdenominational church, where I experienced the reality of God reaching out personally to me with love. I got baptized and Christianity gave me a whole new way of looking at the world: I knew God loved me and created me as I am, so I could stop worrying about other people’s disapproval. Later I learned that my journey was unusual. Many LGBT people start out feeling condemned as sinners by the church, and find liberation by rejecting religion. But I felt condemned by society and found liberation through the church. I could never imagine a God that didn’t totally love LGBT people.
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LGBT and Religion in the Arts by Bethany Fenton

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” That was the summary by Cesar A. Cruz; and in regards to the LGBT religion discussion I think this is a particularly apt statement.

My preferred way to communicate to an audience is visually. Sitting in a room listening to a scholar speak about a subject is all well and good but I think there’s something deeper about studying art. You can look at one piece in any way you want and get from it whatever you want. One image can speak to ten different people in ten different ways and the more honest the piece, the more challenging.

Kittredge Cherry is one of our connections between the art world and the LGBT discussion. Kitt runs a blog ‘Jesusinlove.org” exhibiting the work of a range of artists and photographers online all with something positive to say about homosexuality from various religious backgrounds. The name ‘Jesus in love’ was chosen because Jesus, being human, must have fallen in love, and Jesus, being divine, is also madly in love with everyone. I’m quoting Kitt herself there and I think that’s a good voice for the blog.

What I find difficult to accommodate in the art world is the attempt to monitor and censor subjectivity. There have been bans put in place to prevent the exhibiting of Jesus as a woman or homosexual and I ask, where draw the line? I don’t see how we can start putting limitations on creative outlets. As an artist myself I use art as an expression of feeling where others may write it down or go for a walk or play sport, I record ideas visually in a way that can be shared. So if I want to communicate my beliefs that Jesus loves our LGBT community and wish to express that by painting Jesus as a saint kissing another male, I should be allowed due to artistic license. Once you make that option out-of-bounds you may as well be removing my freedom of speech.

One of my favourite images to be found on Kitt’s blog is Douglas Blanchard’s painting entitled ‘Jesus Dies’ from ‘The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision.” The piece shows a twenty first century male in jeans hanging arms stretched out on metal and wooden scaffolding mimicking the cross Jesus was crucified on. But the subject is not Jesus; he appears to be an ordinary male but with the spear wound in his rib-cage making clear parallels with Christ. The backdrop for the piece is New York City; the Empire State Building is clearly in view and in the foreground, a crowd of contemporary citizens. Looking carefully, there is a priest, office workers, lawyers, soldiers all of whom look eerily similar to those holding these jobs today.

15 J Dies

The message I get from this piece is not a particularly positive one. The overall use of grey makes the scene look sad; our empathy goes towards the centered victim hanging his head in obvious pain and being jeered by the crowd. It is interesting to see that just as Jesus was taunted, rejected and tortured by the crowd, so are the gay community in today’s society. We can read the story of the crucifixion practice as one of great sadness because the sinless and loving Jesus is brutally murdered.

Art speaks to people, I know it speaks volumes to me and I encourage the experimentation of capturing inner-beliefs in physical form for that exact reason: to comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable. If you want your thoughts to be heard, you share them with others, right? And that, I believe, is your right.


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Beth Fenton Interview by Aysha Musa

Image

Can you introduce yourself to our readers and give us an idea of what you do?

Hello, my name is Beth Fenton, I’m a first year student at the University of Sheffield studying Philosophy & Religion. I’m also the resident artist for the Hidden Perspectives project.

When did you start ‘seriously’ creating art and how did you get into it? What was your motive, was it an outlet for you emotions or something you just loved doing?

I’m not sure there was ever a “serious” moment I got in to it. Art has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was really young; sitting down and drawing with my music on, takes my mind off things. I never drew any attention (pun) from people to begin with – just doodling away in the corner but over the years the more I practiced and the better I got the more people started showing an interest which is still surprising to me because it’s just what I’ve always done for my own enjoyment.

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