OUT Art Exhibit Features Local LGBTQIA+ Artists – Iowa State Daily

Octagon Center for the Arts

Octagon Center features local artists in an exhibit called OUT this month showcasing LGBTQIA+ experiences in communities.

Coinciding with Art Month and Ames Pride celebrations, the Octagon Center for the Arts presents “OUT,” an exhibition showcasing the work of seven local LGBTQIA+ artists located in the downtown community of ‘Ames.

The exhibit’s prompt focuses on identifying opportunities and barriers for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to connect, belong, and find authenticity within communities, according to the exhibit’s description of Octagon Center for the Arts.

Featured artists include Charlie Esker, Jennifer Leatherby, Jameson Malone, Lane Maxson, Sasha Phillips, Piper Smith and Ashley Vance.

“Often the stories of queer people are told for them,” said Charlie Esker, an Iowa State graduate and full-time artist. “Whether through their families or through the media, queer people hardly have a narrative role when it comes to our own struggles. My art is my way of telling my story and working to heal my trauma through the artistic process.

The exhibition, which opened on September 1, will be on view until September 30. The exhibit, created by Nancy Gebhart and judged by AJ Castle, is sponsored by the Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity and the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success.

In order to discover and share local stories with the community, the exhibition ventures into spaces beyond the galleries of the Octagon.

Selected works of art, scattered throughout downtown Ames, can be found at the Ames History Museum, Ames Public Library, Back Alley House Plants, Dog-Eared Books, Heroic Ink, Little Woods Herbal and the London Underground.

“Some of the artwork invites you to share specifically in the LGBTQIA+ community in the hopes that you will understand and see what we know and cherish,” Castle said. “Other works invite you to see the most difficult aspects of community: the loneliness, the effort, the isolation and the need to escape.”

The purposes behind the artworks shown vary. For some, the pieces serve to validate experiences, and for others, the art functions as a bridge for understanding between different communities.

“Representing the ‘real’ me has opened a new window of healing for me,” said Maxson, a featured artist. “I learned not to hold back or hide for other people’s approval.”

Vance also shares that experiences and validation inform their work. Vance hopes the artwork can convey the experiences of those who are “other” in society and hopes to validate them.

Smith, a recent Iowa State graduate and featured artist, talks about how art can bridge the gap between connecting with others who aren’t transgender.

“Having a medium and also a platform to express myself with allows me to tell the stories of my experience as a trans woman in a way that can better connect with those who are not trans,” Smith said. . “I believe the biggest difficulty for cisgender people in understanding trans people is simply that the stories of trans people aren’t told enough.”

Castle shared that when someone actively engages with OUT, they are engaging with the different levels of community found in and around the exhibit.

“You build community with the artwork, with the artist, with the people and places the artist calls community, with the Octagon Art Center, with Ames, and with me,” Castle said.

For more information on exhibit locations and times, visit the Octagon Art Center website.

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