Storefront Art Studio is pleased to present GLITTER GUTZ, an new show featuring collodion photographs of Drag/Kings + Queens of South Florida by Helen Maurene Cooper and an installation by Rosemarie Romero aka PORN NAIL$ including her nail art/photography collaboration with Cooper called "Reinas Del Azucar". This collaboration is a tribute to Nail Art as symbols of feminine excess, exotic-otherness, pleasure, and cultural exchange combined with the fierce attitude of those who wear it by embracing Miami Rococo Aesthetics and the embodiment of radical chusmeria.
The opening is on Saturday, May 25th. Please read article below for more information about Cooper and her concept and process. (Reposted from an article in NewCityArt.com by Vasia Rigou)
From the discovery of camera obscura to the development of chemical photography, photographic developments have played a significant role in the making of art history—a prism through which light and later, color, document and capture moments of life that reflect society and its changes. Since the scientific formalization of photographic techniques in the early nineteenth century, photography has spanned a wide range of subjects. But in its first hundred years or so, there was one subject that went almost unmentioned: The queer community. Into this history enters Helen Maurene Cooper.
In an effort to offer a better understanding of an oppressed part of society, the artist invited members of the culturally diverse drag (queen and king and hybrid queen) community of South Florida to present themselves as their own imaginary ancestors. Working in a historical technique, the collodion wet-plate process—which involves adding a soluble iodide to a sticky, chemical solution of collodion (cellulose nitrate) that is later poured onto clean glass plates as the first step in the production of negatives—she seeks to create a photographic record to fill that historical gap. Concerned with questions about the lack of visual representation of the LGBTQ community from the nineteenth century, Cooper presents an alternative story about inclusion—a conceptual archeology.
The artist maintains a cross-disciplinary practice that involves research, writing, installation, performance and photography—but it’s the latter she holds especially dear. “Photography holds my attention because in its short history, there have been many technological advancements—each is a mirror of the time of its invention,” she says. “In the Blue Angels series, I use the wet-plate process, which is emblematic of the Victorian era, to suggest a real and imagined history of multiple LGBTQ communities from the nineteenth century.”
The exhibition, featuring a unique body of glass plate images as well as salt prints, provides a deep understanding of the different “invisible” groups and individuals that make up our society—then and now. Cooper, who has been working at the intersection of race, class and gender for years, urges the viewer to contemplate an era long gone, which at the same time, was not so different than ours: Stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination against marginalized social groups are alive and well, and falling into the trap of such attitudes runs the risk of damaging social cohesion, instead of fostering stronger community ties by bringing people closer together.
Photography as a medium cannot claim a proud history of genuinely reflecting the true diversity of the historically marginalized queer community. Cooper cannot change history, but she’s determined not to let the very mistakes of the past keep clouding the future. Standing by the queer community’s continuous fight for change and equality, between severe underrepresentation—inside and outside the art world—and the burning desire for understanding, she channels their voices through her work. More than this, she’s aware that creating a notable collection of photographic documentation to serve as experiences and history is imperative—because so few exist.
Helen Maurene Cooper
Helen Maurene Cooper's work is driven by personal connection and building relationships with community. She is an artist who uses numerous photographic processes along with installation and publication to connect and build relationships, explore feminism, entrepreneurship, small economies, the power of adornment, and intimacy.
Since 2008, her worked has been focused on place- based exploration, specifically within beauty- centered communities in Chicago. Subjects have included custom made prom dresses, drag queen culture, and the specialty minority-owned nail businesses of Chicago’s west side.
She has received funding for exhibitions through the University of Chicago, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Council of Eindhoven, Netherlands. Her work has been reviewed by the Chicago Tribune, New City, International Forum for Contemporary Visual Arts, New York Photo review, Temporary Art Review and Bust.com.
Her monograph, Paint & Polish, Cultural Economy and Visual Culture from the West Side, debuted in 2017 with an accompanying exhibition in the Netherlands.
Rosemarie Romero fuses tropi-camp performances, Miami kitsch, and performative paintings to critically celebrate Latinx identity, gender fluidity, sexuality, and feminine excess. Her current project, Porn Nail$™, is an interactive installation & performance project that functions as a mobile queer-feminist nail salon.. She constructs interactive spectacles and cultural exchanges that explore the aesthetic politics of gender, race, class, women's work and sexuality by wielding humor, nail polish, glitter, and flamboyant color. Clients are provided with manicures, gossip, intimacy, and friendship in exchange for juicy conversations about sex, love, and work specific to their locality. Using nail lacquer, embellishments, and collage elements, these nails function as a code for flaunting exotic-otherness, cultural hybridity, and shared assimilation into queerness through flamboyant color. Porn Nail$™ is a political-aesthetic expression of radical chusmeria - being too loud, too sexual, too queer - as a model for pleasure, empowerment, and feminist resistance.
ABOUT STOREFRONT ART STUDIO
Storefront Art Studio is an exhibition space in the heart of Downtown Hollywood, Florida and the working studios of local artists Jill Weisberg and Brian Gefen. It is a dedicated site for artists and creatives to showcase their work in an environment that melds seamlessly with the traditional architecture of Downtown Hollywood, while also being a rallying point for cultural events and vibrant social interaction.
The two open platforms that flank the entrance to Storefront are exhibition walls that can be viewed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Once inside, viewers and visitors become a part of the exhibition, themselves, integrated into a dynamic community environment with locally-driven programming. Art exhibitions and events can be staged at Storefront, so please enquire with us below.