Organized by the Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA), last Friday’s “A Day for Queering The Arts” explored the intersections between LGBTQIA+ identity and various forms of art. In addition to a presentation led by visiting author Estela Gonzalez, highlights included writing and printmaking workshops.
Students experimented with ways to creatively represent the multifaceted nature of LGBTQIA+ identities by working with Gonzalez and her wife, printmaker Ariana Gonzalez van Wageningen. Van Wageningen explained the unique clarity of art as an outlet for LGBTQIA+ expression.
“The intersectionality between art and [queerness] is really important, because art gives you a way of thinking and questioning that normal rational thought bypasses… Art goes to a deeper level in your head; a symbol or an image will awaken a feeling much more easily than if you had to read through a whole essay,” said van Wageningen.
Gonzalez’s event incorporated a reading of her recently published book, “Arribada” in English and “Limonaria” in Spanish: a queer romance that won finalist for Feminist Press’s Louise Meriwether Award in 2019. As Wageningen was also an artist, GSA Co-Advisor Corrie Martin talked about how they were inspired to expand Gonzalez’s creative writing event to encompass multiple forms of art like printmaking.
“The GSA accomplished a lot in the fall, [and] wanted to organize something around creative writing and we were fortunate to be able to connect with a novelist who writes in both Spanish and English, and whose recently published book featured not only a queer love story but also a riveting story about environmental racism,” said Martin. She added, “It turns out that her wife is also an accomplished artist and the idea to make it a day celebrating multiple forms of art fell into place.”
In Gonzalez’s creative writing workshop, she guided students through the steps of conveying LGBTQIA+ identity in the most authentic way on paper. Some exercises included brainstorming headlines regarding self-discovery of sexuality as well as expanding stories from a few initial sentences. Not only were these workshops accessible opportunities to practice creative writing, they also provided a safe space for students to explore their gender and sexuality.
“Writing and creating art are great ways to explore oneself, and I know that I regularly use each to explore how I feel about my gender and sexuality. I hope that through holding these workshops, we were able to encourage friendship and support in Andover’s queer community and advocate for queer self-expression,” said Max Berkenblit ’24, GSA member and an organizer of “A Day for Queering the Arts.”
One of Martin’s favorite parts of the day was when students’ completed prints were hung on the gallery wall outside Kemper after van Wageningen’s printmaking workshop. She discussed the intrinsic nature of queerness in art, as well as how she wished that everybody can appreciate and explore “queering” their perspectives through creative, accessible activities like “A Day for Queering the Arts.”
“There is something fundamentally queer about all authentic artistic practice. Art making and engaging with artworks should push us to see the world askance, and thus to question the assumptions and biases that shape how we perceive things… I hope that everyone, of all gender and sexual and other identities, learns to appreciate and embrace the possibility of queering their own viewpoints, their understanding of the world and their place in it,” said Martin.
“A Day for Queering the Arts” offered fun, creative outlets for students to engage in important discussions and reflections regarding queer identity. GSA member Cristina Donovan ’24 discussed how these events raised awareness of Andover’s LGBTQIA+ community.
“I think ‘A Day for Queering the Arts” is important to give visibility to the queer community at Andover. Queerness and art are so often connected because each is concerned with expression, boldness, and being honest with yourself. It was a delight and inspiration to see queerness represented in the arts,” said Donovan.