December 29, 2023
Expressing one's identity can be difficult to achieve with words, so many turn to the visual arts. InLiquid Gallery in North Philly will showcase the art of four queer Philly artists who have done just that.
The nonprofit art gallery, located in the Crane Arts building at 1400 N. American St., will host the art installation "beLONGING" from Jan. 5 to Feb. 24, and an opening reception will take place Jan. 11. The four featured artists are Carmel Dor, THECOLORG, Abbey Muza and Meg Wolensky.
Each artist takes a markedly different approach to exploring their identity and experiences. Wolensky, who studied painting and art administration at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Drexel University, respectively, uses oil painting to heal from complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Like many of us, my queerness was identified, rejected and suppressed long before I recognized it within myself," Wolensky said. "My survival depended on queer expression through nonverbal language. Through paint, I reconstruct a home in which my identity is welcome as I meditate on the impact of trauma."
Muza, who studied at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University, uses weaving to create images based on "queer identity, haptics, and sensuality." THECOLORG, who studied at PAFA and PennWest Edinboro, utilizes soft sculptures and plush objects to bridge her childhood to her adult life.
Dor, who also studied at Tyler, employs painting, drawing, sculpting and zine-making to link their queer identity to the Jewish diaspora and Israeli nationality.
The installation also features a zine-making station. Short for magazine, a zine is a small homemade publication, usually exploring the interests of the creator. The zine scene is strong in Philadelphia, with the 2023 Philly Zine Fest having occurred earlier this month.
"Visitors can use materials from the artists to make their own zine and also check out a pop-up reading room with books and zines that reflect the themes present in the exhibition, which is in alignment with the rich history of self-publication across LGBTQIA+ communities," said Clare Finin, InLiquid’s program director.
The exhibition is part of the re(FOCUS) project, a collaboration between Philly-based arts organizations celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1974 feminist art exhibition "FOCUS: Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts." The project shows "how women-identified and BIPOC artists have moved from the periphery to the center of the art world," according to its website. Multiple events will take place at museums and galleries throughout 2024, giving Philly residents plenty of opportunities to observe many life experiences and identities.