Bent on Art: Queer & Trans Art Exhibit

The Fernie Museum is excited to present BENT ON ART, a pop-up exhibition featuring the works of 15 Kootenay queer artists from September 28 to October 14, 2018. The exhibit is being hosted in collaboration with the Fernie Pride Society as part of the Elk Valley Pride Festival (October 9 to 14, 2018).

The main exhibition features a broad selection of work by LGBTQ+ artists from the Kootenay region and will be open to the public for viewing in Fernie September 27 to October 14 in the Museum’s second floor gallery. The artwork on display includes digital art, painting, photography, pottery, weaving, and bronze casting. In addition to the artists’ works, 9 dioramas that were workshopped as part of the exhibit programming in Nelson are included, along with 12 self-portraits created during a pre-exhibit event in Fernie, Pride and Paint.

Bent on Art was first shown at the Selkirk School of the Arts gallery as part of Kootenay Pride in Nelson, BC (August 27 to September 4, 2018) and widely embraced by the Nelson community. An artist reception hosted by the Bent On Art Festival organizing committee on September 1 was enthusiatically attended. The exhibit was co-curated by Samonte Cruz (Bent On Art Festival Program Coordinator), Ron Ulrich (Curator, Fernie Museum) and Maggie Shirley (curator and gallery assistant at Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar, BC)

Bent On Art: Kootenay Queer & Trans Art Festival is a series of events designed to promote the work of LGBTQ+ artists in the Kootenays while creating educational opportunities, fostering community connection, and promoting resilience through the arts. 

Samonte Cruz was inspired to start organizing within the LGBTQ+ arts community after they moved to Nelson in 2015 to attend Kootenay Studio Arts. “When I moved to the Kootenays I was impressed to find such a supportive and thriving the arts scene but was surprised by the lack of opportunities for LGBTQ+ artists to promote their work, especially given the long history of Pride events in the region.” Local artist Maggie Shirley, who serves as curator and gallery assistant at Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar, BC, became a supporter of the project early on, and acts as a curator mentor to Cruz. “It will be of good benefit to the queer community to have this avenue for creative expression and for the whole community in general to have artistic work by queer folk for their contemplation and enjoyment,” she says, “This has always been an obvious element that has been missing in the over 20 years of Kootenay Pride celebrations".

Cruz was pleased that Ron Ulrich, Executive Director-Curator with the Fernie Museum, reached out about partnering with the Bent On Art Festival while planning a similar exhibit in Fernie. "That we have the exhibit travelling to the East Kootenay region and shown at the Fernie Museum as part of the Elk Valley Pride Festival was an unexpected opportunity. We, organizers and artists, are all very excited for the additional exposure of works by these talented queer artists in another Kootenay community. We hope that this initiative will continue to foster dialogue and discussion between the queer artistic communities on both sides of the Kootenay Pass."

The Fernie Bent On Art committee consisted of Kevin Allen, LGBTQ2+ community historian and Board member with the Fernie Pride Society, and Dan Whillans, art teacher at Fernie Secondary School.