COMING OUT ONLINE


(Tribune photo by Chris Walker / May 27, 2009)

CLICK LINK ON LEFT HAND SIDE FOR CHICAGO TRIBUNE ARTICLE
Artist Doug Smithenry of Highland Park used YouTube video stills of coming out stories to create a series of paintings, which will be displayed at The Center on Halsted.



(Tribune photo by Chris Walker / May 27, 2009)
Dan Heagney is seen in the YouTube video he posted three years ago. He encouraged other young gays and lesbians to use the site to post videos of their coming-out stories.



An Installation of Paintings
June 5 - July 5, 2009
Opening Reception: June 5, 6:30-9:30pm

Center on Halsted
3656 North Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60613
773.472.6469
www.centeronhalsted.org


Coming Out Online, oil on canvas, 12" x 16" panels

Among the hundreds of thousands of videos uploaded to YouTube daily, some gay teens are doing something unique that previous generations of gay people might have considered unthinkable: they are staring into webcams and outing themselves online. I have transformed these online testimonials into an installation of paintings that literally waves the colors of gay pride as it reflects and celebrates how the Internet has provided a sense of community for isolated queer youth. It also reveals how the Internet has helped gay adolescents, regardless of geographical boundaries, to (a) discover that they are not alone, (b) label their feelings and figure out who they are, and (c) experience normative developmental milestones that gay adolescents historically repress before coming out later in life.

Coming Out Online, reinforces the ideas of gay pride and community by providing a visual example of both. The installation consists of a group of 48 small paintings derived from screen shots of YouTube videos of people sharing their coming out stories. The paintings are colorized to represent the gay pride flag. They may be displayed in a long line mimicking the color spectrum or arranged in a grid depending on the location. These paintings extend and praise the voices of gay youth by pulling them from their online existence and presenting them to an off-line audience.

The idea for this installation came from a series of paintings called Real Nobodies which explored the phenomenon of Internet identities by asking the question “Are you a nobody?” The work reflected images of people lifted from vlog sites who were engaged in self-absorbed behavior before their computers. The paintings explored the notion that while we engage in a search for significance online, most of us have to live with the stark fact that neither lasting fame nor notoriety will ever find us. Coming Out Online provides a positive counterpoint to the narcissistic side of Internet behavior represented in the Real Nobodies series by focusing on the communal and educational aspects of these shared coming out stories.




Panels arranged in a line at Center on Halsted






Installation shot at Version NFO XPO, Chicago, 2009 (photo by Charlie Vinz via Flickr)



SAMPLING OF VIDEOS FROM WHICH PAINTINGS WERE DERIVED.

video
Movie of Edited Youtube Clips


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GDProphetXVII


TrannyGirl15


wickydkewl


pyodog

5 comments:

  1. Will you be taking this exhibit on the road? I think this will be very inspiring and important around the country (and around the world). I hope you will be taking this to the East Coast !

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  2. Yes, I am eager to get this exhibit traveling. Any ideas on venues on the East Coast?

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  3. I think that it would be cool if you took this exhibit to the home states of the people in it. That way all 48 could see their face.

    I'm willing to travel nearly anywhere on the East Coast to see this. How about D.C.?

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  4. This is really great Doug. I just was introduced to your art work when at the Center on Halsted... very cool!!

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  5. http://www.massmoca.org/

    I bet Mass Moca (in the berkshires of Massachusetts) would eat this up!

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