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Youth art exhibition all about identity

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A new art exhibition is showcasing a year-long project to give a face to Winnipeg’s queer community.


The exhibition, Queer Perspectives, is the culmination of mentoring artist Lisa Wood’s work with four participants from the Rainbow Resource Centre, located at 170 Scott St. in Osborne Village.


Wood started working with the youth last August as part of the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Community WITH ART program, which partners professional artists with community groups to work on community identity through the development of art.


The North End-based artist worked with participants from the Rainbow Resource Centre’s Peer Project for Youth program, all who identify as queer or transgender, to develop a concept for the project. The participants wanted to use the project to talk about how they felt as queer people, and create identity-based artworks.


Instead of doing one collaborative piece which would only have a single message about what it means for the youth to be queer, Wood and the participants decided it was more important for each participant to have their individual stories told.


"They didn’t feel like their stories were being told anywhere, and they didn’t feel like there was really any role models for them as young people, so they wanted to get out there," Wood said.


The result is the Queer Perspectives exhibit which features self-portraits done by the four participants, as well as portraits of the youth done by Wood. The project also includes a book featuring this artwork, as well as manifestos and statements by each youth artist, Wood, and the Rainbow Resource Centre.


"I think it was really important for us to have something that talked about the process we went through, because the project is so much more than the artworks," Wood said.


"We wanted something to talk about their journey and how they felt about things through the stages."


The book will be distributed to resource centres, libraries and schools throughout Winnipeg.


"Our hope is that young people will find the book and feel some comfort in seeing there are other people out there," Wood said.


Project participant Alison Burdeny, 20, said reading a book like this one could have made a difference while in high school.


"If I would have had this resource in high school, maybe I would have been out five years ago," Burdeny


Julian Kirchmann, 18, said the entire project was a learning experience.


"It was an identity exploring project. I’d (be explaining things to Wood) about the community, what (certain terms) meant, and I was learning about myself by explaining myself," Kirchmann said.


Although Wood mentored the participants, she said the project was a learning experience for her, too.


"I think besides the artwork … I really learned about what these young people are going through in their lives and I was really very impressed with how articulate they are, how strong they are, and how brave they are," she said.


"It was very inspiring to get to talk to them, and get to know them."


The opening of the exhibition, as well as the book launch, will take place Wed., Oct. 10 beginning at 7 p.m. at Flux Gallery in aceartinc., located at 290 McDermot Ave. The exhibition will continue until Oct. 27.

 

danielle.finch@canstarnews.com

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