Queer/Race

My Existence as a Work in Progress, or Seventeen Variations on the Theme of Me

Posted in Uncategorized by kriegerdeslichts459 on April 28, 2010

“White: a blank page or canvas.  The challenge: bring order to the whole through design, composition, tension, balance, light, and harmony…”

– From Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George”

These lyrics open one of my all-time favorite musicals.  While the show has nothing at all to do with the intersection of queerness and race (aside from being composed by a gay man), it explores the nature of art and its relationship to the artist, who is often defined by hir creations.

Since I was 16, I’ve been using the media of costume and makeup to communicate my art to the world.  As I grew up in the theatre, I discovered the transformative power of makeup and costumes and fell in love with it.  The aesthetics of makeup have the power to create entirely new races, genders, sexualities, and identities, so it gives me the freedom to become anything I so desire.

Below is a small sample of my work.  From zombie, to mutant, to clergy, to alien transvestite, and back to scruffy butch dude, these pictures represent the intersection of queerness and race as it is manifest within me.  I view my gender and sexuality as a perpetual blank canvas – I am an easel  on which to paint any gender, race, or sexuality that suits the whim of the moment.  Every single one of these looks is an external manifestation of how I felt inside at that particular moment.

I believe that creativity gives us power.  In my case, my art gives me power over the social categories in which people seem to want to put me.  When I’m in makeup, I needn’t be white, male, heterosexual, or even Irish-American.  I can claim any identity I wish, and I believe that that has always been the goal of every queer movement.

This is my art, my creative soul.  Enjoy 😀

My Existance as a Work in Progress

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3 Responses

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  1. kirstan27 said, on May 6, 2010 at 3:39 am

    As a make up artist myself and someone who has worked in theater I admire your work. I use make up as a way to express myself as well and I believe that make up is powerful and does transform people. My work is for every day use or dance competitions, I never wanted to do theatre make up. However, I think its neat that you fell in love with it and the aesthetics of makeup. Make up does have the power to create entirely new races, genders, sexualities, and identities, a skill I do not have. I see make up as away to enhance the things that people can’t see with the naked eye and to give me and others the extra glam to feel good about ourselves. Your reason is much deeper and more profound and I admire that so much more. I love that you art gives you power not to be in the box or category that society wants to put us all in. I love your work and I hope you continue to be creative and continue living outside of the box. Your fabulous!

  2. kriegerdeslichts459 said, on May 6, 2010 at 3:51 am

    awww, you’re so sweet, thank you! 😀

  3. rmleeb said, on May 6, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    This is going to sound argumentative (which is accurate, because it serves to present an argument), but it is not intended to seem aggressive. However, I feel like this passion for changing your identity, or especially viewing yourself as a “blank canvas,” somewhat combats what I understand to be the goal of the queer existence.
    My understanding is that, in America’s current state, many of the LGBT community–and especially those that fear to openly join it–are not completely comfortable in their own skin as it is. They feel that they are being prejudged, regular-judged, misrepresented, mistreated, attacked, and restricted–and therefore limited–in ways that the “average” American is not. Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as guidance: If people do not actively engage in creating their own unique (as opposed to an adopted or even stolen) identity (a “psychological need,” in Maslow’s limited vocabulary), they will never attain “self-actualization” (which, I feel, is a state similar to adopting Lorde’s eroticism into your life and the way you live it).
    My issue does not stem from your passion for aestheticism, but I do not understand how freely adopting so many different and changing identities (and, potentially, realities) brings you closer to finding your own identity, or strengthening the one that already exists.
    And I disagree that claiming any identity at a whim is the goal of every queer movement: How would any community, be it cultural, social, political, or any other -al, be openly and freely absorbed into acceptance in society with this mentality? One of the strongest reasons for segregation stems not from pure hatred, but distaste and fear of the unknown and alien. If the queers cannot identify themselves clearly, how will they ever be able to show America who they really are? Ask immigrants: Our country cares much less about who you’re sleeping with or what you’re hiding in your underwear than the community’s unpredictability–and, therefore, it’s perceived threat to the balance of a healthy society. Refusing to clearly identify at least a framework for an identity and existing solely to mutate and metamorphose based on daily, emotional whims are things that form just the kind of mentality that creates controversial debates that bump queer communities further down the long waitlist of groups that wish to be realized and accepted into our society.
    Don’t get me wrong, accepting this as your own personal identity is completely fine. But using these ideas to generally characterize an entire community is, in my opinion, risky.


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