At the end of June, our team at the Campaign for Southern Equality was thrilled to host a kick-off to our second year with Southern Equality Studios, a project that explores how the arts can be a catalyst and force in achieving lived and legal LGBTQ equality across the South.
The June 27 event consisted of a panel discussion in Asheville featuring local queer artists discussing visibility, queer visual culture and living creatively in the South. It also previewed “Up/Rooted,” the project that our Southern Equality Studios residents – Liz Williams and Al Murray – will be working on all summer.
At the panel discussion Liz and Al engaged in a q&A with several other Asheville-based artists, including artist Ronika McClain, artist Jékksyn Orilyn Ícaro, and photographer Hannah Felperin. Artist and curator Chelsea Dobert-Kehn moderated the conversation.
The panelists discussed how their sexuality or gender identity is reflected in their creative process, the purpose of art-making in their lives, the impact of accessibility and gate-keeping in the queer and art communities, and what responsibility queer artists have in our current political climate.
More About Up/Rooted
The theme of this summer’s residency for Al and Liz is called “Up/Rooted.” Here’s Liz and Al explaining the foundations of the project:
“We all have roots – and some of us have grown from them thanks to them, and some of us in spite of them. Up/Rooted lifts up the dreams and aspirations of queer artists, acknowledging that our roots inform us, that we respond creatively to them. For anyone who might say ‘I don’t know any queer people or queer artists, this work is evidence of the fact that we are here. From our roots, we are growing, we are creating, and we’re not stopping. We can grow and rise up from our roots and through the art of creation we can make something bigger than ourselves. To those who would prefer to erase our existence, Up/Rooted says: You cannot, and you will not.”
Up/Rooted, the outcome of this year’s Southern Equality Studios work, will be featured as an exhibition at REVOLVE at RAMP SOUTH in Asheville, NC from August 23 until September 3, 2019. Liz and Al will host an opening reception for the project on August 23 at the space. For more info, contact email@example.com.
About Southern Equality Studios
The Southern Equality Studios program provides a vehicle for these artists to collaborate outside of their usual spaces, be inspired, and be a part of a community of folks who explore art as a site of resistance, resilience, and community building.
Since the launch of CSE in 2011, we’ve worked at the intersections of personal narrative and political organizing, working with LGBTQ people and families to share the stories of their lives, whether through the written word, film, or photography. We’ve seen the power that storytelling has had on changing hearts and minds here in the South and nationwide, and it’s a vital tool as we continue our work to build a South where all are free and affirmed to live as their authentic selves. Art and storytelling have long played a powerful and central role in movements for social justice, and we’re honored to be a part of that long legacy in our region.
Follow Along on Instagram
In the meantime, you can follow along with the Southern Equality Studios work on Instagram at @SouthernEqualityStudios! Liz Williams will be sharing updates on her feed and story at @MakeMeSomeArt, while Al will be sharing at @SteelToeSunshine. The Campaign for Southern Equality will host a collection of both artists’ updates at @SouthernEquality.