First Queeramics Symposium Held at LSU

group in front of Queeramics exhibition sign

The Queeramics Symposium, held October 9-11, 2019 drew together members of both the queer and ceramics communities to examine issues of identity, culture and theory within each. The event created by MFA candidate Ian Park and assisted by art associate professor Andy Shaw was the first of its kind held at LSU, raising awareness about art and the LGBTQIA+ community.

Queer members from the ceramics community traveled to LSU to discuss queer theory and many LGBTQIA+ issues within academia, the U.S., art, and specifically ceramics.

“Queeramics is a communal event meant for anyone interested in viewing queer art, learning more about queer theory, and listening to the perspective of queer artists within the ceramics field,” said Ian Park, MFA candidate and symposium organizer.

“This event was an important opportunity to raise awareness and bring together community members,” said Andy Shaw, associate professor of ceramics.

The symposium succeeded in its goal to bring together the art community within LSU, individuals who identify as queer, and those pursuing ceramics fields, Park said. “Queeramics aims to educate and create dialogue between artists and the public through an exhibition, keynote speaker, performance art, and a panel discussion. Queer visibility is important, and Queeramics brings that visibility together in a scholarly and creative way.”

The group exhibition Queeramics 2019 debuted at the Foster Gallery the work of queer artists working within the ceramics field. Participating artists are from around the U.S. and Canada.

“With the opening of the Queeramics exhibition on National Coming Out day, it was great to see a large turnout of viewers excited to be part of this symposium through visual arts on display,” Park said. “Allowing the public to attend the performances, lecture, panel discussion, and exhibition was a vital part of this project, not only for ceramics, but for queerness. Queer communication and visibility is important, and being visible through numerous outlets this event offered allowed the public and artists to communicate in a variety of ways.”

The ceramics artists participating in the symposium gathered for two days in a think tank style discussion to talk about topics including “the need for Queeramics now and later, to speak about queer theory, how we as LGBTQIA+ artists in this field can bring another together, be a community nationally, and create change within the world that we live.”

Panel discussion at table

“Seeing each other in person is important, and spending time with one another is vital if we want to understand each other and make change,” Park said. “We came together to embrace each others’ thoughts, concerns, needs, creations, and lives. We want to strengthen the queer ceramics community, provide it with more respect, and allow the LGBTQIA+ community and allies to join us as we celebrated our artwork. The mission was successful beyond its goals.”

Dr. Elena Castro’s lecture “The Cultural Politics of Art: how to make a technogender body and why it matters”, was a deeper look into non-western queer concepts that explored the ideas and origins of writers such as Diana J. Torres, Beatriz Espejo, Devinir Perra, and Virginie Despentes.

Performance art piece with glowing screenPerformance art pieces included a piece by MFA candidates Caitlin Mary Margaret and a collaboration featuring Heather Molecke and Sam Combs. “Both performances were emotionally charged and breathtaking!” Park said.

The panel discussion with speakers Wesley Harvey, Alex Arceneaux, Mac McCusker, Saba Torres, and Tucker Claxton, and moderated by Park, provided a look into thoughts on Jose Esteban Munoz’ Cruising Utopia and what each artist thought about for a queer future, why it matters, and how they feel about the idea of a utopia.

Park said, “I am very proud and happy with the results of Queeramics, and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”