Celebrate Canadian queer and trans artists in our new series Queer (Self) Portraits

What happens when identity and art collide? While artists paint themselves on glass, they share how identity has informed their work.

What happens when identity and art collide?

What happens when identity and art collide? When we take the parts of ourselves that are often rejected and marginalized and use them to fuel the creation of something new, something beautiful? To imagine new stories or new approaches to old stories? Or to carve new artistic genres altogether? 2:39

What happens when identity and art collide? When we take the parts of ourselves that are often rejected and marginalized and use them to fuel the creation of something new, something beautiful? To imagine new stories or new approaches to old stories? Or to carve new artistic genres altogether?

These questions lie at the heart of Queer (Self) Portraits, a new CBC digital series celebrating ten Canadian queer and trans artists. Each episode features a conversation with an artist about how their identity — or the intersection of their identities — has informed their artistic practice. At the same time, they create freeform, finger-painted self-portraits on glass, coming up with surprisingly authentic representations.

Through these conversations on art and identity, we hear personal journeys about the struggle for self-acceptance, the need for visibility and community, the importance of being the authors of our own image and the ongoing drive to live a life that is both authentic and professionally fulfilling. It's a journey many can relate to — artist or not.

Each episode of Queer (Self) Portraits is styled to the artist being profiled, from a ballroom battle with vogue dancer Twysted to a jam session with Yamantaka // Sonic Titan member Alaska B to the meditative home video projections of filmmaker Arshad Khan. Across all disciplines we celebrate these ten artists not just because they're queer but because they are actively queering their respective art forms — disrupting established tropes, challenging norms, blending genres or forging new paths entirely.

Meet the artists and click their names to watch individual episodes!

Syrus Marcus Ware

What role does art play in activism? Visual artist, curator, performer and dedicated community organizer Syrus Marcus Ware describes how his passion for a more equitable world has given rise to a meaningful artistic practice.

Twysted

Voguer extraordinaire Twysted shows off his finest battle moves and tells us how being gay motivated his transition from hip hop dance to voguing (because he doesn't believe in homothugs #noshade).

Andria Wilson

Andria Wilson, the executive director of the Inside Out Film Festival, discusses the importance of queer representation in media: "If you don't see your yourself represented, you 'don't exist.'"

James Fowler

He's the founder of the 10x10 Photography Project, the LGBTQ+ arts event that inspired this series. Learn what it takes to build a network of LGBTQ+ artists. (Hint: the key ingredient is enthusiasm.)

Dayna Danger

Queer, 2-spirited, Métis/Saulteaux/Polish visual artist Dayna Danger indulges us in a performance piece and discusses how the themes of sexuality, power, identity and representation form the basis of her art.

Enza Anderson

Enza Anderson is best known to Torontonians as Enza Supermodel from Metro Toronto's column The Hot Ticket. She was also one of the first openly trans women to take a public position in mainstream media.

Ashley Iris Gill

Tired of seeing the same old media tropes about black people and queer folk, Ashley took to filmmaking to help change the narrative — and in the process, she learned a lot about herself.

Alaska B

"We run around with face paint on playing obnoxious music. What could be more queer than that?" The drummer from Yamantaka // Sonic Titan talks about being othered and carving your own creative path.

Arshad Khan

A firm believer in the power of storytelling, Arshad meditates on the beauty and the struggle of being gay and Pakistani — an intersection that forms the basis of his new documentary Abu.

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker is a writer, director, performer, DJ and an all-around professional weirdo. To Johnnie, it's not just about creating queer art — it's about queering the way art is made and presented.

Queer (Self) Portraits was born out of director Gabrielle Zilkha's participation in this year's 10X10 Photography Project. 10X10 is an annual art exhibit and book curated by James Fowler and produced each year to mark Pride Month. Each year, ten queer and trans photographers are selected to take portraits of ten queer and trans people whom they wish to celebrate for their contributions to the arts. Now in its seventh year, 10X10 has grown into an annual staple exhibition at the Gladstone Hotel and a highly anticipated event for the arts and queer community during Toronto's Pride Festivities. The opening reception for this year's exhibit is Thursday, June 22 and it will be live until August 18 at The Gladstone Hotel. Check out the amazing lineup of artists this year!

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