QUEER|ART AWARDS THIRD ANNUAL ILLUMINATIONS GRANT FOR BLACK TRANS WOMEN VISUAL ARTISTS
UTĒ PETIT HONORED AS WINNER; FOUR FINALISTS RECOGNIZED
Queer|Art, New York City’s home for the creative and professional development of LGBTQ+ artists, is pleased to announce the winner of the third annual Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists, Utē Petit. The New Orleans-based visual artist will receive a $10,000 cash grant, professional development support, and individual studio visits with members of the judges panel to support her practice.
2022 Illuminations Grant Judge and visual artist, Jonathan Lyndon Chase writes: “Utē’s work is multi-layered, sensory touching on physical and metaphysical energies. Hungry and visually generous in the different modes of expression that are generously inviting the viewer to enter an ever growing world. The attention to poetic detail in the drawings are filled with vigor and show subjects I can relate to. Honest and Raw unapologetic gestures. The colors are very striking and bold throughout the 2d works’ sculptural moments and space vibrant spiritual landscapes and nature installations.”
2022 Illuminations Grant Judge and legendary performer and fashion icon, Connie (Girl) Fleming continues: “Petit’s work spoke to me with a deeply connective scoop, rooted in our connection to mother earth, & our responsibility as her steward. Illustrating our symbiotic existence that we so often forget at our very peril.”
Interdisciplinary artist and farmer, Utē Petit narrates Black-Indigenous land traditions across visual and embodied mediums. Petit’s visual language convenes figurative drawing, woven and quilted textile practices, and installation to render Afro-Indigenous sovereignty across the Americas. Across her layered work, Petit pulls from inherited familial textile traditions to chronicle legacies of interdependence and sovereignty among Black-Indigenous peoples: the artist learned quilting from her maternal grandmothers who were quilters in Misi-Ziibi. For Petit, cooking and gardening are somatic vehicles for historicizing and imagining speculative futures. Her current body of work builds off these familial legacies, worldbuilding practices, and aesthetic traditions to imagine a new nation called Ailanthaland—“nation of heavenly beings.” Petit’s Ailanthaland strives “to be an ecological paradise tenable to all beings, following the stewardship of Afro-Indigenous peoples of the Americas.”
As the third annual winner of the Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists, Utē Petit was selected from a pool of 66 applicants. The judges, who were chosen by Queer|Art to review applications for the national grant include visual artists, performers, and curators from around the country: Connie (Girl) Fleming, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, and Kimberly Drew. Developed and named in partnership with Mariette Pathy Allen, Aaryn Lang, and Serena Jara, this annual grant draws attention to an existing body of work, sheds light on the under-recognized contributions of Black trans women visual artists, and provides critical support to their continuing work.
About Utē Petit, Winner
Utē Petit works as a visual artist, and farmer. Her current work aspires toward a new nation called Ailanthaland: nation of heavenly beings. Ailantha aspires to be an ecological paradise tenable to all beings, following the stewardship of Afro-Indigenous peoples of the Americas. She also loves to cook, and is a big transit nerd. She is often found daydreaming about persimmons, airplanes, and hugging cypress trees.
On receiving the 2022 Illuminations Grant, Utē Petit writes: “This award has brought the possibility of having a professional studio into reality for me. I plan to find a new space to create larger work, while also making time to further devote to my practice. This is a blessing that will allow me to consider personal and career moves that were previously beyond my means.”
In addition to Utē Petit, four other visual artists were acknowledged as finalists for this year—Courtney Washington, Tia Jackson, Av Tuitt, and z tye.
About Courtney Washington, Finalist
A legend within the ballroom community and founder of the Kiki House of Juicy Couture, leader of The House of Balenciaga, Black trans femme Creative Director of Masterz at Work Dance Family Courtney ToPanga Washington creates visual work fusing street dance, street jazz, ballroom, and hip-hop. Informed by her own experience being teased as a queer teenage person who found refuge in dance, her visual conveys how her gender transition spurred transformative emotional, creative, and physical liberation. The dances she creates are a representation of resiliency, and through company outreach foster community and family in under-resourced areas of Brooklyn.
About Tia Jackson, Finalist
Tia Blake Jackson aka Miss He, born in Athens, GA and currently thriving in Atlanta, GA, is a full-time drag performer who explores ideas of black femininity through fashion aesthetics of the 80’s and 90’s while also focusing on social justice in the communities she occupies. Miss He existed before Tia did as exploring the world of drag was the catalyst of her transition. Before Miss He, the idea of being trans was considered by her as an intrusive thought because of her religious upbringing. Finding drag was her saving grace. She is one of the newest cast members of the awarded Atlanta drag show, The Other Show as well as the host of her own show with a cast of all black trans performers called Chapel Beauty. She also co-hosts her own podcast, Bird Behavior. When you see a Miss He show, expect a good ass time!
About Ava Tuitt, Finalist
Born and raised in New York City, Ava Tuitt is a visual artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate from Purchase College with her B.F.A in Painting + Drawing her work focuses on the intersections of race, gender, religion and pop culture. Constructing what she calls “gender creation stories” her practice inserts and asserts the black trans body as a perpetual entity and explores the formation of both personal and collective identity.
About z tye, Finalist
z tye is a Brooklyn-based artist who explores concepts through ancestral praise. She is intrigued with somatic relations and how they associate with emotional connectivity. These works are intended to serve as queer offerings to LGBTQIA+/POC communities. z continues to research the kinesthetic body with instinctual energy to fulfill their curiosity. She has been included in exhibitions with Bronx Museum of Arts, Volta/Armory Art Fair, The Living Gallery, Long Gallery Harlem, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, Postmasters Gallery, Fridman Gallery, Art in Buildings, and Participant INC. Choreographic work has been commissioned by The Shed, BMW, BOFFO, Jack, Gibney, Movement Research, and Dance Canvas ATL.
About Mariette Pathy Allen
Mariette Pathy Allen is a photographer of transgender, genderfluid, and intersex communities. Moving from painting, a solitary activity, to photography, Allen has been documenting the transgender community for over four decades. In 1978, on the last day of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Allen met Vicky West, a trans woman she befriended and through whom she was first invited to Fantasia Fair, a transgender conference where she would serve as official photographer. She went on to author several books that have brought visibility to transgender communities across the world including Transformations: Cross-dressers and Those Who Love Them (1989), Masked Culture: The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade (1994), The Gender Frontier (2004), TransCuba (2014), and Transcendents: Spirit Mediums in Burma and Thailand (2017). Mariette’s photographs have been exhibited internationally and are in private and public collections. She is represented by Clamp gallery in New York City.
Learn more about Mariette Pathy Allen and the creation of the Illuminations Grant here.
About Aaryn Lang
Aaryn Lang is a Black, Ohio-born consultant, writer, public speaker, and media personality. Miss Lang’s primary focus is in championing the social, economic, and political well being of the transgender community, specifically the needs of Black transgender women.
About Serena Jara
Serena Jara is an artist making work about the effects of family dysfunction and the process of rebuilding herself as an adult. Through photography and painting, Jara focuses on how apathy and love can become intertwined in the long-term. After receiving love during childhood in the form of mixed messages, she looks at herself and her family in relation to this narrative, exploring home as a contradiction of comfort and emptiness that follows her regardless of physical location. She depicts similar tensions between love and neglect in her paintings, using the medium to process childhood memories and find new ways to care for and accept herself. The artist shows her struggle with seeking love as external validation, and the realization that she has to foster this from within to move on from the past.
About the 2022 Judges
Connie (Girl) Fleming is a performer, model, stylist, fashion illustrator, and undeniable New York City legend. As a renowned stage performer, she has graced iconic nightlife venues like the Palladium, the Tunnel, and the Pyramid; performed in various videos for George Michael, Chic, and Jody Watley; and appeared in the opening montages for Saturday Night Live and MTV News. Connie’s status as a fashion icon and cultural muse has led her to model for Thierry Mugler, Vivienne Westwood, and Andre Walker across New York and Paris. A charter member of the House of Field and a Mistress of Ceremonies at Jackie 60, Connie began her reign as one of New York’s most sought-after gate-keepers when she worked the door at Eric Conrad’s Poop at the Supper Club. Her inimitable fashion drawings have been used to illustrate costumes for Beyoncé, Anastasia, Swarovski, and “The Devil Wears Prada,” among others. Today, Connie splits her time between various artistic endeavors, and works as a runway coach, producer, and casting director for several fashion brands in New York and abroad.
Jonathan Lyndon Chase is an interdisciplinary artist who works in painting, video, sound and sculpture to depict queer black love and community amidst the back drop of urban and domestic spaces. Chase’s figures hang in various forms of articulation – intertwined with domestic markers of a kitchen or a bedroom, they are then tethered by pop and street signage to blend emotional and physical, internal and external states of being. Rendered through layers of bright, visceral paint, make- up, foam and glitter these compositions challenge and subvert canonical misrepresentation and exclusion of the black body. Recent exhibitions include WHAT DO YOU SEE, YOU PEOPLE, GAZING AT ME at Sadie Coles HQ, London. Chase’s work has been previously featured in Art Basel, Switzerland; Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pond Society (solo), Shanghai; Company Gallery, New York; LSU Museum of Art (solo), Baton Rouge; the Rubell Foundation, Miami; Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke; California African American Museum, Los Angeles; Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia; The Bunker, Collection of Beth Rudin De-Woody, Palm Beach and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, Philadelphia. Their work is included in numerous private and public collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, ICA Miami, High Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bronx Museum, Rubell Family Collection, Buxton Contemporary Art Museum, The Wedge Collection, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and Woodmere Museum of Art. Chase was born in 1989 in Philadelphia, PA where they currently live and work.
Kimberly Drew is a writer, curator, and activist. Drew received her B.A. from Smith College in Art History and African-American Studies. She first experienced the art world as an intern in the Director’s Office of The Studio Museum in Harlem. Her time at the Studio Museum inspired her to start the Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art, sparking her interest in social media. Drew’s writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Vogue, Glamour, Playboy, and Teen Vogue and she has executed Instagram takeovers for Prada, The White House, and Instagram. Drew served as the Social Media Manager at The Met. She is the co-editor of Black Futures which she published in 2020 with Jenna Wortham. Drew recently joined Pace Gallery as Associate Director. You can follow her at @museummammy on Instagram and Twitter.
Queer|Art was born out of the recognition of a generation of artists and audiences lost to the ongoing AIDS Crisis, and in a profound understanding that one of the many repercussions of that loss has been a lack of mentors and role models for a new generation of LGBTQ+ artists. Founded in 2009 by filmmaker Ira Sachs, Queer|Art serves as a ballast against this loss and seeks to highlight and address a continuing fundamental lack of both economic and institutional support for LGBTQ+ artists. Our mission is to provide individuals within our community with the tools, resources, and guidance they need to achieve success and visibility for their work at the highest levels of their field.
The current programs of Queer|Art include: the year-long Queer|Art|Mentorship program; the long-running Queer|Art|Film series, held monthly at the IFC Center in lower Manhattan; and Queer|Art|Awards, an initiative of grants, prizes, and awards that provides various kinds of direct support—monetary and otherwise—to LGBTQ+ artists.
A list of the intergenerational community of artists supported and brought together by Queer|Art includes: Silas Howard, Jennie Livingston, Matt Wolf, Hilton Als, Sarah Schulman, Pamela Sneed, Justin Vivian Bond, Jibz Cameron, Trajal Harrell, John Kelly, Geoffrey Chadsey, Everett Quinton, Geo Wyeth, Angela Dufresne, Nicole Eisenman, Avram Finkelstein, Chitra Ganesh, Pati Hertling, Jonathan Katz, Tourmaline & Sasha Wortzel, Jess Barbagallo, Morgan Bassichis, Monstah Black, Yve Laris Cohen, Troy Michie, Tommy Pico, Justin Sayre, Colin Self, Jacolby Satterwhite, Rick Herron, and Hugh Ryan, among many others.
Artwork: Marshland Restoration Program, Utē Petit