‘That’s So Gay’ art exhibition

The UNI Gallery of Art is presenting ‘That’s So Gay: An Exploration of Homophobia and Camp in Art.”

SYDNEY HAUER, Executive Editor | [email protected]

The UNI Gallery of Art will present “That’s So Gay: An Exploration of Homophobia and Camp in Art,” a permanent collection exhibition curated by art history professor Charles Adelman and Gallery Director Darrell Taylor.

“That’s So Gay” features many artworks, modern and contemporary, from many different mediums such as photography, sculpture and painting, by notable artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Nick Cave and Berenice Abbott.

Most of the artworks in the exhibition are from the permanent collection, but some are on loan from personal art collections or other galleries.

According to Taylor, he  and Adelman were in the gallery space a little over a year ago brainstorming ideas for future permanent collection exhibitions.

“It’s like out of nowhere we both thought of the same thing at the same time, which was to do an exhibition about artworks in the collection having to do with LGBT artists and LGBT subject matter,” Taylor said. “It’s hard to go back and think, how did that happen? How did that thought happen in the first place? But it felt as if it happened simultaneously.”

Adelman taught an art history course of the same title in the spring semester. His students were heavily involved in the curation process, as they were responsible for writing artist biographies, conducting research on the topic and creating the didactics to hang next to the artworks.

“We’re tackling subject matter that the students are going to be interested in,” Taylor said. “If students are engaged from the very first time they walk into the gallery and see the artwork, then we’ve accomplished a goal of introducing them to art from the collection.”

Sydnee Chiri is a junior art major who took the class that corresponded with the exhibition.

“The class itself was pretty much an independent study where you could bounce ideas off of other peers,” Chiri said. “It was a super cool experience to be able to explore the meaning of ‘gay art’ and it sometimes became really challenging, since there’s so many aspects that could fall under this category — from the sexuality of the artist to the content of the actual piece all the way to fetishes and kinks.”

In the information about the exhibition located in the gallery, Adelman writes: “If, as in some cases, the artist is gay, is their gayness implicit in all their art? If the artist is heterosexual and photographing or depicting gay individuals, is the resulting art gay? Obviously, the determinant is the particular individual’s response.”

The exhibition seeks to answer these questions, as well as many others. According to Taylor and Adelman, many of the artworks in the show ended up fitting unexpectedly well together and offering interesting juxtaposition.

“I love working with Dr. Adelman and his students, and the choices they made are the reason the show is so coherent, so powerful,” Taylor said. “It’s arranged in groupings, which I hope visitors will notice right away. If not, I hope they will spend a little extra time in the exhibition space and come to their own conclusions about relationships between objects and how they relate to the principal theme.”

Taylor believes there are many reasons students should visit the exhibition.

“One, UNI students are deeply involved in the selection of objects, the writing of artist biographies, and the presentation of research papers about artworks from our own collection,” Taylor explained. “Two, this is the first time, to my knowledge, that the UNI Gallery of Art has offered an art exhibition devoted to LGBTQ artists and LGBTQ-themed subject matter. And three, the Gallery staff itself is composed entirely of UNI students, not just from the Department of Art, and attending gallery events shows your support for student endeavors.”

The UNI Gallery of Art is located in Kamerick Art Building and is free and open to the public. The gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday or by appointment. The exhibition will be on view from Aug. 20 to Sept. 19, Oct. 8 to Nov. 16 and Dec. 6 to 15.