Man Made: Contemporary Male Quilters Craft & Folk Art Museum Los Angeles, CA Jan 14 - Mar 21, 2015 Asheville Art Museum Asheville, NC July 26, 2015 - Jan 28, 2016 International Quilt Study Center Lincoln, NE Feb 16 - June 19, 2016
Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community Curated by John Chaich Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art New York, NY Jan 17 - Mar 16, 2014
OPTIONS 2013 Washington Project for the Arts Arlington Arts Center, Arlington, VA
In a recent series titled Fragments, I address the disjointed, scrappy, unfinished nature of identity. One work, Fragment #3: Roses are Red, is made by piecing a traditional quilt pattern (called Roses are Red) into an image of a heaving jock stud from a gay erotica magazine. The patchwork fabrics were a grandmothers, and the digital textile print is an enlarged scanned copy of a cover of FirstHand magazine from the 1990s. Initially, I picked this blocky quilt pattern (which is also from my grandmothers collection) because it could partially mask the cover models facea direct nod to online cruising culture in which some men blur out their faces, focusing instead on their bodies. Deliberately using feminized quilt squares to dominate the figure reveals my hesitancies around body image, appropriate sexiness and gay male objectification. In the same way that this gay masculine body is out of reach for a fag like me, so too is a fulfilling relationship with my family and their traditions. Both are just tantalizingly out of reach. So in this very literal way, I am forcing my queer desire to intersect my craft heritage, and looking for new spaces between their encounter.
Forest Frolic is my most recent work to take on fragmentation and also absence. Two cavorting male figures have been removed entirely from an erotic illustration, printed enlarged on cotton, and then quilted. This is the first work to completely remove all figures. Suggestive of the dangers of being sexually overt as a queer person in rural spaces, this quilt contains as much personal fantasy as anonymous pervasive fear.
Road to Tennessee is composed equally of a photographic image and a patchwork quilt. Such dualities find their way into my work from many angles. Flipping through a gay pornographic magazine, the image of a man amid a woodland scene caught my eye and instantly reminded me of the shallow creek beds and wooded foothills of my idyllic childhood in rural Tennessee. In stark contrast, the nude man at the center of this scene confronts my adult sexuality. The image is complex for me and begs an intervention: the porno guy is cut away so I can be filled in. His absence leaves only the echo of landscape, and here I embed unfinished patchwork, both a marker of my traditional craft background and a symbol of my own pieced-together identity. Aptly named "Road to Tennessee", this specific quilt pattern has a cage, or net-like appearance, which I cannot help but connect to my own feelings of being trapped in my personal journey to/from home.