Fag Family, double portraits by Nick May are a series of oil paintings, celebrating the artist’s close friends, allowing the viewer a peek into May’s life and what he celebrates about being queer. Pop cultural references and various other objects and symbols in the background offer the viewer clues to the personalities of each individual and what they mean to May. While we encounter, hear and read stories about the male and female gaze, the subjects in May’s portraits put the viewer in front of the queer gaze.
“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. 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. 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.”
Nick May is a portrait artist whose practice is deeply rooted in community and queerness. They received their Bachelors of Fine Arts with an 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 for the Visual Arts.