Southern Equality Studios (SES) is a special project of the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), an Asheville-based non-profit that promotes full LGBTQ equality across the South. The mission of SES is to explore how the arts can help achieve that equality.
“Artists have always been a catalyst and force for change in all kinds of social movements across the South, across the county,” said Al Murray, the Director of Engagement and Organizational Development for CSE. “[But] it’s still true that LGBTQ artists in the South are largely invisible on a world stage.”
After several successful “pop-up residencies” last year, CSE decided to expand the project to a full summer residency for two artists while also engaging other queer artists from the area. The hope is that the project increases the visibility of LGBTQ artists in the South. “Even in organizing this we found that we didn’t know each other very well,” said Murray, who is also one of the artists in residence this year.
Murray and fellow artist-in-residence, Liz Williams, spent four months interviewing other artists and hosting a panel discussion to discuss topics of identity, politics, creativity and healing trauma.
The result is their collaborative multimedia project “Up/Rooted,” an exhibition on display at REVOLVE in Asheville from August 23 to September 3. Murray’s kinetic sculptures contain items that express the queer, Southern and artistic roots of artists and people from the panel. Williams created photographs of the artists she interviewed, placing them surreally suspended in mid-air.
Come to the opening reception on August 23 from 7-9 pm at REVOLVE Gallery, 821 Riverside Drive, Suite 179 in Asheville.
Listen to the full interview here: