What better time to be inspired by the work of our fellow LGBTQ+ community than during Pride Month? If you’re seeking your latest queer art fix, you need look no further – there’s a new exhibition heading your way.
The LGBTQ+ Positive Voices exhibition launches online this month, celebrating the positive experiences, lives and perspectives of queer artists and creatives. The exhibition promises an exciting range of creative work, mixing image, video and audio art. We spoke to exhibition organiser Ash Green about their own work as an artist, why they set up Positive Voices, and why dedicated queer spaces like this matter.
Hi Ash! Tell us about your work as an artist.
I mainly create electronic music, small digital games and interactive narratives. They often have a nod to early 1980s music and pop culture, folklore and superstition, and autobiographical elements. My game and narrative art can be hand-drawn pixel art, or manipulated / re-worked images and collages created by myself or other creators. My main work in progress at the moment, The Midnight Detective Club, brings all my interests together into an interactive lo-fi comic style 1980’s neon synthpop supernatural teen detective mystery.
What does LGBTQ+ art mean to you? Do you have a favourite piece?
My favourite pieces of art by others are ones that make me think about my own space in the world, and ones I can see myself reflected back in some way – especially those that make me feel happy about who I am. The Transworkers Photography Exhibition, and Kiss My Genders at the Haywards Gallery in London, have both included works that made me feel very positive about who I am. Without that art, I wonder if I’d have been so ready to come out.
Queer performance art has also had a similar impact on me. When I went to my first queer cabaret, Bar Wotever at The Marlborough in Brighton, it was eye-opening and wonderful to see so many performers claiming their own individual spaces around gender and sexuality.
“I wanted to provide people with a creative outlet for their positive experiences, and for others to see those positive perspectives of being LGBTQ+.”Ash Green
What made you decide to set up the Positive Voices exhibition?
It had been in the back of my mind to set up something like this for a couple of years. It was inspired partly by collections such as the Transworkers Photography Exhibition and the Museum of Transology and the positive feelings they gave me.
Looking at the news and seeing how difficult it is for many LGBTQ+ / queer people to go about their lives without facing hate and ignorance, I wanted to provide people with a creative outlet for their positive experiences and for others to see those positive perspectives of being LGBTQ+. I recently participated in the Create Place arts programme, which gave me the confidence and opportunity to turn the idea into something real.
What is involved in the running of an exhibition like this?
I launched the project with a call for creative submissions at the beginning of March. That was open until the end of May, and the exhibition goes live in mid-June. I’ve been spreading the word to many LGBTQ+ networks and communities, and art communities as well. That has mainly involved identifying the organisations and emailing them, posting to relevant mailing lists and forums, and social media. I want to make the exhibition as inclusive and diverse as possible, so have ensured that organisations representing wider minority groups have been included in the call for submissions. I’ve had such positive feedback, with organisations sharing the call through their networks.
I’m also setting up the online exhibition space to host visual, audio and interactive works in a way that’s engaging and accessible. I’m very excited by the contributions I’ve received – so diverse, unexpected, interesting and beautifully personal. I’ve received performance pieces, videos, digital artworks, paintings, music, audio pieces and games, representing a wide spectrum of sexual, romantic and gender identities.
“There’s a need to provide a positive, non-judgemental space whose content is firmly focused on celebrating queer lives… a space to help balance out the negative focus we often encounter.”Ash Green
What do you want the outcome of this exhibition to be?
Ultimately, I want it to be uplifting, both for those who have contributed to the exhibition, and for the visitors. I want it to be something that gives positive insights into LGBTQ+ and queer lives that others might not have considered before.
Even though the exhibition is launching in June, I want that to be the starting point of an exhibition that develops in size and inclusivity. For example, I’m also considering how I can enable people who don’t consider themselves to be creative to contribute, and if a related physical exhibition is a possibility.
What do you think that queer artists, and queer audiences, get out of being able to showcase and see queer work in this way?
I hope queer artists who contribute will feel as if they are contributing to something worthwhile, and that, as part of the exhibition, they are able to share their work and the positive context of that work with a new audience.
I hope viewers appreciate the positive experiences from the perspective of the artists; and I hope they are also able to see something of themselves in the pieces in the exhibition, and feel positive, reassured, and/or happy about that. I also want to give queer viewers the confidence to feel that they can be part of this celebration as well, and contribute their own piece of creativity.
Why do you feel it’s so important to have dedicated spaces like this for LGBTQ+ artists?
I feel there’s a need to provide a positive online non-judgemental space whose content is firmly focused on celebrating LGBTQ+ / queer lives. One that allows us to tell our stories in the way we want to. A space to help balance out the negative focus we often encounter. And a space that provides people with the opportunity to connect with others like themselves anywhere around the world.
The LGBTQ+ Positive Voices online exhibition goes live on 19th Jun 2021 at www.lgbtqpositivevoices.org.
You can find links to Ash’s creative projects here.
You can also follow Ash on Twitter at @ggnewed.