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Nick May: Fag Family
September 3, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - November 14, 2021 @ 6:00 pmFree
“Fag Family is a series of double portraits of individuals in my queer community. These portraits capture the queer relationships, queer spaces, and the liberating magic of queer world-building that I have the privilege to observe and be a part of,” says May.
“Historically, portraiture was a display of wealth and power; a luxury afforded only to the rich, affluent, white aristocracy. Queer individuals, especially queer individuals of color, have been totally erased from that history. I vehemently reject the stink of white supremacy and classism that continues to infect the art world, and my goal with these portraits is to subvert that ugly history by capturing my fellow queer friends with all of the luxuriance and beauty of oil painting.
Created with photo references, my portraits are nearly life-size and meticulously painted in order to earnestly catalog and celebrate the human lives I observe. Painting is an incredibly physical process: building the stretcher bar, stretching the canvas, priming and the process of painting demands an inordinate amount of energy. This painstaking process is compulsory however, because it is crucial for me to match the energy of the sitter I portray. Exerting so much energy into the surface of the canvas itself injects a kind of life into the portrait, as a homage to the living person themself.
Many of my fundamental artistic influences derive from the trauma I endured as a queer child. The escapist avenues I ventured in adolescence like children’s novels, campy movie musicals, fantasy video games made an invariable impression upon me. Growing up with image-dump platforms like Tumblr and Instagram exposed me to many artists who influence my work: Alice Neel, Mickalene Thomas, and Jordan Casteel to name a few. As a queer adult, drag queens, experimental pop music, and queer literature has indelibly impacted me. The apotheosis of these influences has left me obsessed with beautiful images, creating fantasies, and the human lives around me.
The power and beauty of my queer community inspired me to create this body of work. Despite existing in predominantly conservative midwestern towns and within an oppressive society, we create safe spaces for one another to brazenly enjoy our queerness. Within these spaces we transform ourselves, celebrate, and love one another. Within these spaces we create a whole new world that celebrates and uplifts us.”
Nick May is a portrait artist whose practice is deeply rooted in community and queerness. They received their Bachelors of Fine Arts with emphasis in Painting from Ball State University and are currently working as a portrait artist in Indianapolis, Indiana. Created from photographs, their portraits are nearly life-size and meticulously painted in order to earnestly capture and celebrate the human lives they encounter.
Made possible by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.