The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art has outdone itself with its latest exhibition. An expansive, gallery-spanning show called Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community highlights the manner in which artists — specifically queer ones — work to foster a tangible sense of being through, you guessed it, textiles.
Leading the impressive show is James Gobel's massive felt portrait of design duo Costello Tagliapietra called The Fitting, No. 1. Owing to its life-size dimensions, the viewer is invited to participate in Costello Tagliapietra's creation process. It makes sense that John Chaich, the show's curator, would lead with a piece of fabric, showing men sewing...fabric. After all, textiles — be it yarn, felt, fabric, or thread — are in the conversation of sewing or knitting. Both actions extend beyond the textile to become a metaphor for the manner in which communities are created, or rather, knit together.
When one steps back to further examine Gobel's piece, the fashion element lends itself to the notion of costuming and performance. What is a queer identity? What is a queer costume? Do designs made by queer creatives make the final product queer? The show is loaded with various avenues for discussion that extend beyond the queer world and into the world at large. It's not simply a collection that highlights the methods and concepts behind making one specific culture, but rather, a collection that highlights the way in which culture is nurtured through making.