Since June, Southern Equality Studios, a project led by the nonprofit Campaign for Southern Equality, has worked to explore the ways LGBTQ residents build their lives in the South. Artists in residence Liz Williams and Al Murray held a panel discussion with other queer artists in the Asheville area during the final days of LGBTQ Pride Month.
Up/Rooted, showing at REVOLVE, demonstrates how art can open a space for resistance, resilience, and community. “As queer Southerners, we know that greater understanding and social change only come when we speak out, get personal, and welcome our neighbors into our lives and our journeys,” Williams (a concert photographer and illustrator) and Murray (a metal artist) tell Asheville Made in a joint statement. “That often can come at great risk, and that’s why we’re grateful to all of the participating artists who generously shared their roots and aspirations with us.”
The project directly relates to the Campaign for Southern Equality’s multiple-city goal of “legal and lived” equality for LGBTQ Southerners — i.e., fair treatment in everyday-life situations, not just on paper. “We really see creative work as a catalyst for inspiring people to act,” says Executive Director Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, citing the role of visual art, music, and film in past global movements, including the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa. “We’re trying to tap into the power of art.”
It’s about thriving. “Our roots inform us,” note Williams and Murray. “For anyone who might say, ‘I don’t know any queer people or queer artists,’ this work is evidence of the fact that we are here.”
The Campaign for Southern Equality, Asheville (southernequality.org).“Up/Rooted” is on view at REVOLVE Gallery (821 Riverside Drive, #171) through Sept. 3. For more information, visit makemesomeart.com/up-rooted or revolveavl.org. On Instagram:
@makemesomeart and @steeltoesunshine.