Students who encourage queer and feminist ideals gathered at Pitzer College to support the series “Wrong is Not My Name” April 24.
The series originated in a Black Queer Theory class, and the students continue the series even when the class is not in session.
“I wanted to shed light on issues that didn’t have much attention,” Channing Martinez, a Los Angeles artist and organizer for the Bus Riders Union, said.
“I was not sure what to expect but the presentation shed a lot of light on the purpose behind the pieces,” Marley Crean, sophomore music performance major at the University of Redlands, said.
The workshop “Art and Resistance,” which featured presenters Edxie Betts and Martinez, generated the interest of about 20 students.
“In the beginning, I thought I was rebelling, but I realize that I was just being an artist,” Martinez said.
Portraits showed Martinez painted with different colors in vulnerable areas of the body.
“He decorated every part of his body, and I haven’t seen that before,” Crean said.
“I wanted to use my art to change the conversation of the art world,” Martinez said.
Growing up in a small one-room apartment with five people, Martinez worked on bringing out what was hidden within politics and his own identity.
Playing with controversial topics such as religion, Martinez presented photographs of his bare body wrapped in cloth.
Martinez said he wanted to reference the biblical figure Jesus and his style in a new light. The edgy photos added context to how Jesus dressed.
“I took a photo of myself wearing a scarf, which is usually worn by women,” Martinez said.
Martinez also enjoys to explore topics like gender.
“Males do that and females do this and they are comfortable with that; however, I wanted to create a different conversation,” he said.
Claps and snaps were heard throughout the room as students from different backgrounds and experiences joined the presentation.
Betts, a member of Los Angeles Queer Resistance Collective, also presented at the workshop with pictures, a video and a PowerPoint presentation.
Protesting against oppression within racism, sexism, nationalism and capitalism, Betts believes everyone is an artist advocating for some type of resistance.
“Art is our weapon,” Betts said.
Betts said that art is a way to increase awareness and change perceptions on what society thinks is normal and to hinder big corporations.
Betts works as an advocate for Los Angeles Queer Resistance Collective (LAQR), which spreads its message by using donated materials to distribute resources such as shirts, posters and patches.
The LAQR believes that gay, straight or bisexual people should not have to identify with a category because people are people.
The group also worked with other movements such as Occupy Wall Street.
Being in and out of foster care, Betts found comfort in visual art. Sketches and paintings of Betts’ exhibited around the room along with Martinez’s photographs.
“I am not sure how I feel about the art pieces being displayed next to the photographs,” Crean said.
Crean said she would prefer it if the paintings and photographs were on different sides of the room.
“We always take a risk showing our art to people,” Martinez said.
The series ended Tuesday with a film screening and talk session featuring “Light It Up,” with Maxwell Addae.
Gabriela Krupa can be reached at email@example.com.