Bent on Art Queers the Concept of Home

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Selkirk College’s School of the Arts Hosts

The Bent on Art: Kootenay Queer and Trans Festival offers an art exhibit and reception, an artisan market and classes for the public during Kootenay Pride Week in Nelson, BC from August 26 to September 1. A very special performance by visiting artists Onibana Taiko, a queer Japanese drumming group based in Vancouver, takes place as well.

Bent On Art Festival Coordinator and School of the Arts alumni, Samonte Cruz, is excited about how local LGBTQ+ artists are responding to this year’s theme, Creating Home: Claiming What’s Ours, Dismantling What’s Left.

“Home can be a complicated concept for many people in the LGBTQ+ community; it’s not just about the physical place we call home, but also the ability for us to feel at home in our own bodies; especially when our bodies don’t match societal expectations of what it means to be male or female,” Cruz says.

Bent on Art 2018 Market Vendor and Craft alumni Tait Gilliland.

Being mis-gendered, based on how one’s body is perceived is a common occurrence for trans/gender non-binary people and can take a serious toll on mental health. Many queer and trans people still experience rejection from their families after coming out, requiring them cut ties to people and places they once considered home.

“I think it’s important to create a space for local queer and trans artists to express our unique experiences around creating a sense of home inside our families, communities, but also within our own skin,” says Cruz.

Bent on Art feels at home at Kootenay Studio Arts, or School of the Arts Victoria Street Campus, where diversity is celebrated. An exhibition including artwork from digital art to textiles and bronze casting runs from August 26 to September 1 at 606 Victoria Street.

A celebratory reception on August 31 will have live performances by local artists as well as feature a piece by visiting artists Onibana Taiko. Group members Eileen Kage, Noriko Kobayashi and Leslie Komori’s taiko experiences combine to more than 100 years and performances draw from Japanese folk rituals such as minyo and matsuri with a touch of punk aesthetics. Obana Taiko will also perform 7 to 9 p.m. on September 1, at the Capitol Theatre.

Register for Classes by August 23

One powerful way Bent On Art is encouraging queer and trans embodiment through art is with this year’s Queer and Trans Life Drawing Class. One of the first of its kind in this region, this course centres on queer and trans bodies by hiring LGBTQ+ identified models. Class participants will gain or refine their skills in a number of materials and techniques, while discovering their own unique approach to drawing the figure in an explicitly queer and trans centric, respectful, anti-oppressive and fun environment. Everyone in the community is welcome to register, from those with no drawing experience to practicing artists; all skill levels valued.

Darius X making art at the 2018 Bent on Art Festival

Another class, Linocut Printmaking Basics led by Darius X is tailored toward beginners who want to learn how to carve and print a block print without the use of a printing press.

Registration for both classes are $25-$150 sliding scale. Full subsidies are available for those who are in need. Registration deadline for classes and the Bent on Art Market is August 23. Space is limited so register soon!

The Bent On Art Market featuring LGBTQ+ artists and crafts people takes place during the afternoon of the Nelson Pride Parade on September 1 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Hall Street Plaza.

The Bent On Art: Kootenay Queer and Trans Festival is presented by Samonte Cruz Studios in partnership with the West Kootenay Regional Arts Council. Funding for the festival is provided by the Province of British Columbia, BC Arts Council, Columbia Basin Trust, and Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance with support from Kootenay Gallery of Art and Selkirk College.

Learn more about Bent on Art and discover Craft Programs at School of the Arts.