When Southern LGBTQ artists come together to express queerness, it carries a responsibility to create space for representation. When their exhibit coincides with Atlanta Pride on the calendar, only High Visibility will do.
That’s the title of the decidedly poignant virtual show opening Friday on the Atlanta Photography Group’s website. With the subtitle Queer ATL Photography, the exhibit hosts work by 20 local LGBTQ photographers. APG, Wussy Mag and Atlanta Pride co-host the virtual gallery and corresponding event series set to run through Oct. 22.
Curators Le’Andra LeSeur, Michael James O’Brien and Emily M. Getsay didn’t reign in creativity with too many guidelines, LeSeur told Project Q Atlanta.
“We’ve been focused solely on creating space for artists to express themselves in whatever way they see fit,” she said. “We realize the importance of providing space for artists to fully be uplifted and have their voices heard.”
As a result, a wide variety of moods, styles and perspectives emerge — just like the queer identities and histories that they represent, LeSeur continued.
“Photography is one of the closest things to revealing truth,” she asserted. “It’s been transformative in how we see the past but also now how we see ourselves in the present day.”
“What I love about photography is how it has been transformed,” LeSeur added. “It’s become a tool for people to retell stories that have been lost or overlooked, and it challenges how we see things in today’s world.”
Visibility was an easy theme to identify, because the need for it never goes away. In fact, the value of representation only intensifies amid forces that would revert and limit LGBTQ voices, she said.
“[Visibility] shakes up the dialogue and changes the narrative surrounding the standards that are in place,” LeSeur said. “It’s important that we push for visibility by affirming artists to continue to create work that doesn’t conform to a hetero-normative, patriarchal view.”
‘A beautiful convening’
Among a packed slate of other official Atlanta Pride events, this one stands out as special for LeSeur.
“This show feels like a breakout from the ordinary, so it’s extremely important that this is taking place during the 50th anniversary of Atlanta Pride,” she said, praising the full lineup of artists and singling out moving works by Jesse Pratt López and collaborative pieces by Andrew Lyman and Jackson Markovic as personal favorites.
“There is something extremely beautiful about the dialogue created within their photographs,” LeSeur said. “The works are intimate but not for the viewer — for the artists themselves — which is why they are even more powerful.”
The exhibit also includes photos by Alex Espinosa-Parker, C. Rose Smith, Coorain Devin, David Clifton-Strawn, Ike R. Chinukwue, Jody Fausett, Kenedee Hodges, LaRue Calliet, Maggy Swain, Michael McLenighan, Patrick Di Rito, Sam Delos Reyes-Strickland, Sequoyah Wildwyn-Dechter, Taylor Alxndr, Teri Darnell & Alan Chimacoff and Zoltan Gerliczki.
The works are free to view with registration and for sale to benefit the artists. Friday’s opening night event features Zoom talkbacks with artists. Organizers plan two more artist talks on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22.
The slew of people who worked on it made sure that it’s a don’t-miss event, LeSeur said.
“I truly hope everyone gets a chance to see the show,” she said. “It is a beautiful convening of some amazing LGBTQIA+ artists in the Atlanta area.”