life size quilted portrait commissioned for the 2014 National Queer Arts Festival exhibition, Second Helpings, San Francisco
“Second Helpings is a queer intervention into American popular culture’s understanding of the fat body as a deviant body. It is a visual art exhibition, an evening of performance, and a platform for ideation around how, as a queer community, we can deconstruct and reassess body politics to foster a collective understanding of fatness that empowers and heals fat-bodied people emotionally, sexually and politically. ”
What if, instead of being a barrier, quilts were to show what was underneath them? What if, instead of hiding, they displayed?
In our current political climate of assimilation, we are faced with the message that “homosexuals are just like straight people” on a regular basis. That may be true for some people, but it isn’t the case for many queer identified people. We’re not just gay, we’re queer, and that means we aren’t going along with the status quo. We fight daily against mainstream thoughts – gender roles and expression, beauty standards and what is attractive, what it means to build community, how our sexuality should be expressed, how our sexuality should be tamed…
What if, instead of shutting up, instead of hiding ourselves and our loved ones, we made a point of expressing ourselves and our feelings in a public way? What if, instead of covering shameful nudity, the quilt showed the non-conventional beauty below it?
The Femme and the Bearded Lady portrays two bodies nestled together in sleep; their affection and attraction obvious. Both bodies are fat, both are queer. One body is commonly read as female, despite identifying as genderqueer, and the other is commonly read as male, despite identifying as a woman. As the LGBT community becomes more and more mainstream, mainstream beliefs are found more and more within the LGBT community. Both bodies experience fat and gender through the lens of a society which believes them to be unattractive, unhealthy and undeserving of love and lust, while simultaneously denying their gender and queer identities.