Q&A with the Out Loud Participants
2017 Out Loud’s Identities, Symbolism, and the Self
Three years ago, Elly Baldwin (the Museum’s Curator of Public Engagement) noticed a gap in UMOCA’s community programming: programs for children and adults were offered, but nothing at the time existed for those in-between. After receiving funding from an education grant, Baldwin created a program for LGBTQ+ teens, aptly named Out Loud.
Out Loud is a workshop series lasting several weeks that culminates in an exhibition of the participating youths’ artwork. Working together with professional artists in the community, the Out Loud participants investigate what it means to explore identity through contemporary art. The students develop their pieces from beginning to end by themselves, from concept and medium all the way to the construction and finalization of the exhibition piece.
At the opening reception of 2017’s Out Loud exhibition, Identities, Symbolism, and the Self, the participants held a panel discussion to answer questions about their work and experiences in the program. The discussion was moderated by Jimmy Lee, Youth Programs Manager at the Utah Pride Center.
Lee: What were some of your favorite moments?
Sam: This isn’t my favorite moment, but more like an important moment. Probably the biggest takeaway from this experience was visiting artist [Ya-Ya] came, and we did this exercise about identifying attributes of our identity. One of the questions they posed was, “Which part of your identity is most important to your friends?” I [thought], really nothing. But there were identities labeled on the floor and you have to move to [one of] them. I found myself moving to the “sexuality” [category]. And once I got there, I realized the extent to which my friends had been tokenizing my sexuality. I just never had really thought about my experience with some of my non-queer friends until then.
Lee: How have you seen art or your notions of art being challenged?
Sam: My understanding of what art means to me … was extended through this experience. Usually, I’m intimidated by other artists because I feel like their technical skills are better. … But as I became more aware of where my art goes conceptually, I grew more confident [and was] able to recognize other kinds of art. … I now value concept over technical skill.
Summer: I’ve always had a strict definition of art, but it’s very open. Personally, I believe that art is anything that is criticized or critiqued by its aesthetic—whether or not it was intended to be.
Lee: What were some of the challenges or difficult times that you didn’t anticipate?
Shane: For me, one of the biggest challenges was writing the artist’s statement. It was so hard that I didn’t even write my own. I just used a quote. I feel like it’s hard to try to explain something that shouldn’t be explained. You should just take it in—see what it means for yourself.”
Elly Baldwin, who built the program from the ground up and has ran it all three years, says, “It is important to reach out to communities that have been historically marginalized and excluded from museum spaces. UMOCA wants queer youth to feel welcome here and to discover contemporary art-making as a tool for expressing, connecting, and healing.”
Join us for Out Loud 2018!
If you, or someone you know, are interested in applying for the program next year, applications will be available in the fall. The Out Loud exhibit Identities, Symbolism, and the Self will be displayed in the Education Space at UMOCA from now until July 8. In addition, the artworks will be on display at the Utah Film Center’s Damn These Heels Film Festival from July 14-16.
UMOCA thanks our Out Loud supporters for their help in creating a safe, LGBTQ+ youth-focused environment at the Museum: Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks; The LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of Utah; The B.W. Bastian Foundation; and Google Fiber.