MICA hosts Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community, a traveling exhibition examining lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) identities and ideas through fiber crafts, on view until March 13, 2016 at MICA’s Decker Gallery inside the Fox Building (1303 W. Mount Royal Ave.).

Curated by John Chaich, Queer Threads showcases works of art from 26 artists from the U.S., Canada, Argentina, South Africa and Denmark who combine fine art traditions with thread-based craft materials and processes, including crochet, embroidery, knitting, lace, macramé, needlepoint, quilting and sewing, to show the diversity of LGBTQ experiences. The exhibition, making its Maryland debut at MICA, marks the first time the pieces have been displayed together for the purpose of connecting and highlighting their queerness.

The exhibition responds to the gender connotations, feminist herstories and power hierarchies situated within the history of fiber art and domestic handicrafts, while examining the icons, tastes, roles, relationships and spaces socialized within and around gay and lesbian culture. “The artists in Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community are breaking through binaries of art and craft, gay or straight, and masculine or feminine to redefine personal identities and art practices through thread-based craft materials, techniques and processes,” Chaich said.

Queer Threads is both international and intergenerational in scope. The exhibition includes works from artists Chris Bogia (New York), Melanie Braverman (Massachusetts), Jai Andrew Carrillo (California), Chiachio and Giannone (Argentina), Liz Collins (New York), Ben Cuevas (California), Pierre Fouché (South Africa), James Gobel (California), Sabrina Gschwandtner (California), Harmony Hammond (New Mexico), Jesse Harrod (Pennsylvania), Larry Krone (New York), Rebecca Levi (New York), Aubrey Longley-Cook (Georgia), Aaron McIntosh (Maryland), Allyson Mitchell (Canada), John Thomas Paradiso (Maryland), Sheila Pepe (New York), Maria E. Piñeres (California), Allen Porter (America), L. J. Roberts (New York), Athi-Patra Ruga (South Africa), Sonny Schneider (Denmark), Buzz Slutzky (New York), Nathan Vincent (New York) and Jessica Whitbread (Canada). While the majority of the featured works were created in the last decade, the oldest work on view date to 1955 and 1971.

Specifically, MICA’s Fiber Department faculty member Aaron McIntosh’s Road to Tennessee uses a photographic image of a man in a woodland scene, reminiscence of the artist’s childhood, and patchwork quilt, a symbol of his traditional craft experience and his self-described pieced together identity. “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,” McIntosh said.

Complimenting the variety of fiber and textile works on view, Queer Threads features two film/video installations: Aubrey Longley-Cook’s animation featuring embroidery made by 25 community members from the Atlanta area, and an excerpt from Sabrina Gschwandtner’s 2008 film No Idle Hands, which documents the public action led by Liz Collins to create the massive rainbow pride flag seen in Collins’ site-specific installation, PRIDE.

In addition to solo works, the exhibition has several collaborations including partners Chiachio and Giannone’s La Familia en la Fontana di Trevi, featuring hand embroidery with cotton threads, jewelry threads and rayon on fabric, Allyson Mitchell and Jessica Whitehead’s plastic cross stitch piece on sex and HIV-positive women commissioned by Toronto’s AIDS Action Now and L.J. Roberts’ The Queer Houses of Brooklyn in the Three Towns of Breukelen, Boswyck and Midwout during the 41st Year of the Stonewall Era, which includes button installations by Buzz Slutzky and is based on a piece created by Daniel Rosza Lang/Levitsky. Roberts’ piece was recently acquired by and is on loan from the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

This exhibition is co-sponsored by MICA and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. Queer Threads was on exhibition at the museum from January to March 2014. If you miss this Baltimore showing, the exhibition will travel to the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts in April 2016.

Hours for MICA’s galleries, which are free and open to the public, are Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays, noon-5 p.m.

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is the first museum dedicated to the exhibition and preservation of LGBTQ art. Recognizing the need to preserve and establish a safe space for LGBTQ art, the museum began as an exhibition in the Soho loft of collectors Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman in 1969. The co-founders established the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, Inc. in 1987 and received their official museum charter in May 2011.


About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.