Opening Reception: June 17, 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Since January 2017 a number of youth artists involved at RE-create have been working on “Growing Up Queer in the Hammer,” a project where they have been able to express their journeys and experiences of gender and sexuality in Hamilton.
RE-create is an outreach art studio for at-risk and marginalized youth in Hamilton, and provides drop-in studio times three times a week where youth can engage in therapeutic art making and community building. RE-create is a program of Shalem Mental Health Network, a local network of mental health services, and has existed in Hamilton for over 13 years. RE-create provides a sense of home for many of the artists who contributed to this exhibit and this project evolved organically out of the strong community of LGBTQ+ youth who spend time there. With funding from the Hamilton Community Foundation the youth have spent time learning from professional queer artists, while also being given space to design and plan their own personal pieces.
Many materials, from paint and watercolours to wood-working, creative writing and digital media have been used in this exhibition to display the diverse identities of the youth artists, and the intersectionality of the local LGBTQ+ community. The artists hope that this exhibition serves as an educational opportunity for local social service providers, as well as the general public.
The exhibition also illuminates the celebrations and struggles of local LGBTQ+ youth, with the ‘zine’ illustrating issues existing within the LGBTQ+ community for at-risk youth and containing resources for how safer spaces can be created around the city. The centerpiece of the exhibition connects all the youth together as a community, with each colored string sprouting from the centerpiece representing an individual artists’ journey.
At the heart of this work is the concept that there are struggles and celebrations within this community, and that individuality and community are equally important. As a community of artists we cannot separate ourselves from one another, or from the larger LGBTQ+ community, yet we simultaneously recognize that each individual is the product of unique intersections. Our experiences are not black and white, but fluid, and require patience for the ‘grey areas’ that exist.