Gerber/Hart’s newest exhibit, Art from the Archives, opened on Friday, October 13th, at This Archive is Queer: The Gerber/Hart Fall Benefit. Celebrating art inspired by people and stories from Chicago queer history, this exhibit features four artists whose work was directly inspired from materials held in Gerber/Hart’s collections, including print materials and oral history interviews.
The exhibit consists of three displays – Amigas Latinas Forever (Jose Luis Benavides & Amanda Cervantes), The Personals (James Hosking), and Portrait of Marge Summit [Sam Kirk, commissioned by Queer In(n)].
Each display is accompanied by archival materials from Gerber/Hart.
Art from the Archives will be on display through Spring 2024.
View the exhibit in the Sandfield Exhibition Gallery during Gerber/Hart’s open hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 PM, Fridays from 12-4 PM, and Saturdays from 10 AM – 4 PM.
Amigas Latinas Forever
Jose Luis Benavides & Amanda Cervantes
Since 2020 Jose Luis Benavides and Amanda Cervantes have investigated the Amigas Latinas archive held at the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives. Amigas Latinas existed from 1995 to 2015 and was a Chicagoland Latina Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, and Questioning support, education, and advocacy organization that offered many events and services over its 20-year existence.
With generous support from 3Arts’ Ignite Fund grant, Luis and Amanda present here original artworks responding to the archive. This work was first exhibited at the Chicago Art Department with the support of Depression Press and their risograph machines. Amigas Latinas Forever has also been featured in Borderless Magazine, the Chicago Reader, and Windy City Times.
Together, Benavides and Cervantes conceived of and created re-enactment scenes reimagining queer Latinxs interacting with the Amigas Latinas flyers. To do these, they recreated flyers from the Amigas Latinas collection. Cervantes shot these photographs with Marimacha Monarcha Press, a Latinx and queer printmaking collective in Chicago, and the Bunt Cakes, a queer softball team in Chicago.
Benavides also created an excerpt of an ongoing project called Lulu in the City, a 10-minute short experimental documentary, featuring audio of his mother, a Latina lesbian, alongside images and experiences of Amigas Latinas co-founders Evette Cardona and Mona Noriega. Though his mother was not an Amigas Latinas member, his short film draws parallels between their stories.
James Hosking’s collage series The Personals is made from his collection of LGBTIA+ ephemera and the holdings of Gerber/Hart. He uses images from newspapers and magazines, as well as found photos and textures, to recontextualize marginalized material dating from 1966 to 1981, roughly the period between the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco and the emergence of HIV/AIDS.
The series is inspired by contemporaneous found personal ads, some of which are reproduced in the compositions. The anonymous authors of the personals become imagined protagonists. He explores how the time they lived in, and the media they consumed, shaped their identities, dreams, and hopes for connection.
The works dramatize the era’s push-pull between fear and acceptance, concealment and openness. He primarily obscures faces to make the subjects anonymous, like the original writers of the personal ads. The collages fit together as a loose narrative wherein motifs emerge, derived from a speculative space between the imagined and the real. They form psychic maps of desire, reinventing an underground visual history.
James wishes to thank the staff and volunteers of Gerber/Hart for their invaluable support and community, Keanna Rose Boyko and Alex Wieder of Latitude for their production expertise, and Jeremy.
Portrait of Marge Summit
Sam Kirk, Commissioned by Queer In(n)
Sam Kirk’s Portrait of Marge Summit was Queer In(n)’s first commissioned piece. Kelli Simpkins and Adithi Chandrashekar are the founders, co-directors and producers of Queer In(n), a curated, generative public arts program inspired by interviews with Chicago’s LGBTQIA+ youth, elders, and their advocates. Queer In(n) commissions multidisciplinary Chicago queer artists to interpret one assigned interview and make a new work based upon it within their respective mediums. Queer In(n)’s mission is to use art as a vehicle to center and celebrate the histories, revolutions, and joys of queer life in Chicago.
About the Artists
Jose Luis Benavides
Jose Luis Benavides is Latinx and queer video-artist, writer, and adjunct at Wilbur Wright College – City Colleges of Chicago. Working primarily with a range of personal archives, their work explores issues relating to migration, sexuality, and culture.
His work has screened at Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival; Full Spectrum Features’ Chicago Cinema Exchange: Mexico City; Onion City: Experimental Film and Video Festival; MSU Latinx Film Festival; University of Massachusetts; CinHomo; Cadence Video Poetry Festival; HOMOGRAFÍA/HOMOGRAPHY; and Qalandiya International.
Amanda Cervantes is a queer Latinx visual artist, curator and writer. Through archiving their familial ephemera she uncovers queer threads that run through their family history.
She currently is the arts administration intern with the Chicago Art Department, US; Threewalls, US; The Overlook Place, US; and OCAD University, CA. She works at Harold Washington College.
James Hosking is a queer, lens-based visual artist who explores underseen communities and archives, particularly of LGBTQIA+ people, and principally themes of identity and intimacy. His practice encompasses documentary photography and film, as well as archival collage. His films have screened internationally and in educational institutions, and his photos have appeared in outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others.
Developed over several years, his Beautiful By Night photo series and documentary film about three older drag performers in San Francisco have been featured in numerous publications and exhibitions at venues such as YBCA (SF) and the Tenderloin Museum (SF). The series was the focus of a 2022 solo show at the University of Michigan. He was recently one of twelve 2022-2023 HATCH residents at the Chicago Artists Coalition, where he presented a new archival LGBTQIA+ collage series entitled The Personals.
He received a 2023 Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Support grant and a 2023 DCASE Individual Artist Program grant. His collages will be on view in Once: 2023 Emerging Artists Exhibition at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art until January 7, 2024.
Sam Kirk is a multidisciplinary artist who explores culture and identity politics through her creations. Her artwork focuses on a variety of intersections which encompass a call to celebrate differences and enact change.
Kirk’s public murals often address social issues, as she intentionally uses the public space to spark dialogue around topics of equality and visibility for women, communities of color, and the LGBTQIA community. While Kirk has maintained a successful public art career, she has also exhibited throughout the US in galleries and museums.
Kelli Simpkins and Adithi Chandrashekar are the founders, co-directors and producers of Queer In(n), a curated, generative public arts program inspired by interviews with Chicago’s LGBTQIA+ youth, elders, and their advocates.
Kelli Simpkins is a theater, film, and television artist whose career has spanned more than thirty years. They are dedicated to telling stories often excluded from the mainstream that focus on class, queerness, disenfranchisement, and ‘the other.’
Adithi Chandrashekar is a professional writer, actor, and filmmaker. She is a current Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at University of Texas at Austin.