Queerlective aims to build a new kind of creative community in New Hampshire
Randall Nielsen is a multimedia artist from Manchester who creates sculptures with emerging technologies, like 3D printing.
And he’s a pretty busy guy. A few months ago, Nielsen was hosting an art show at a local brewery when the staff reminded him that he agreed to host another show there this spring.
“To be honest, I’m a little lazy and I didn't want to hang up all of those pieces," Nielsen said. "And so I was like ‘What if I have people come in and hang up all of those pieces themselves?’”
That turned out to be a great way to build the kind of community Nielsen's been trying to foster with his new group, Queerlective. He co-founded the organization after Pride Month last June as a way to promote an inclusive environment for artists of color, the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups in New Hampshire.
About 40 people showed up to Queerlective’s recent art hanging party at To Share Brewing. The event also featured a performance by Brian Walker, whose stage name is A Day Without Love.
Some of the artists at the event have previous experience at gallery showings, but others are new to the scene.
It was only Christine Hoffman's second time in a gallery showing in Manchester, though she's been making art for years. Hoffman, who is also based in Manchester, specializes in a technique called pyrography where she burns artwork onto wood.
“This is really exciting for me to get to show in an awesome community environment,” Hoffman said. “I’m really about art belonging in the community and not in rarified spaces. Art is for everybody.”
Atlas Wooster also brought his paintings to the Queerlective event. His acrylic, 3D, mixed media art shows the triumphs of finding a personal self and the creative self while dealing with depression. Wooster said the gallery event was a first for him.
“It's always something that's been in the back of my mind and something that I've wanted to do," he said. "But I've never had the vehicle in which to go about doing it, or the crowd to access, that I know that would reach a specific audience that could resonate with my art.”
Nielsen, who helped to launch Queerlective, said he hopes the group can provide a platform for artists who might otherwise struggle to get support. He said it can be hard for artists who work in new mediums like 3D printing or mixed media, as opposed to those who do more traditional styles like oil painting, to show off their work in local galleries.
The organizers of Queerlective spend a lot of time working to make sure artists of color and other marginalized groups are well-seen and well-funded. They recently hosted a grant writing workshop to help entrepreneurs get financial support for some of their projects.
“What I really feel like we’re doing is cultivating a community here,” Nielsen said. “I mean you can walk into any of our events and see that people are excited to be together. It really feels great to build this community utilizing art that’s bringing together the queer, BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of color] and other underserved communities.”
Events like the one at To Share Brewing are just the start. The collective has broader strokes in mind when it comes to the creative community they're trying to build.
They’re organizing Queer Dungeons and Dragon sessions, and they have a book club. Currently, they’re reading “A Marvelous Light” by Freya Marske — a historical fiction mystery book about a gay man who discovers magic in Edwardian England.
Later this year, they're planning a queer art extravaganza and other events for Pride month. They're also hoping to organize spaces where women, people of color and other communities can gather to make art together. Nielsen said it’s important for different marginalized groups to be seen on their own individual accord.
It’s a lot of work. Nielsen said it’s like a second full-time job, though the response has been really positive.
“We're always really open to listening to the community,” Nielsen said. “It's really nice that people feel comfortable to come to us with their ideas or suggestions and know that they will be heard, and we'll do whatever we can to fulfill that.”
Ultimately, Queerlective wants to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate in art, and get their work seen and heard.