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Toronto's 'Queer Landscapes, Queer Intersections' exhibit examines sexuality, race, identity

The works of two Thunder Bay, Ont. artists have been selected for a prestigious juried exhibition, 'Queer Landscapes, Queer Intersections' opening Thursday night at the John B. Aird Gallery in Toronto.

Thunder Bay artists impress with dress made from packing tape and interactive self-portrait

Jayal Chung is one of two Thunder Bay artists selected to have their work shown at the 'Queer Landscapes, Queer Intersections' exhibition in Toronto, opening June 1. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

The works of two Thunder Bay artists have been selected for a prestigious juried exhibition opening Thursday night at the John B. Aird Gallery in Toronto.

Queer Landscapes, Queer Intersections touches on themes of sexuality, discrimination and identity, issues near and dear to the heart of Jayal Chung.

"I'm always interested in peeling back the layers and finding out more about myself and more about other people, how different experiences shape us," Chung said.

Her self-portraint 'the forbidden fruits' is her reflection on experiences with heartbreak, love, hope and internalized racism.

As part of Jayal Chung's 'the forbidden fruits' people are encouraged to take an orange from the bowl. (Jayal Chung)

She wanted people to interact with the work, and the questions it raises.

"I have a shelf and it's set up as if it's an altar for myself, and for other people," she explained.

The title of the work is meant to be "cheeky because I wanted to put myself out there," said Chung, adding that the two fruits in the painting are purposefully chosen, and strategically placed.

"During Chinese New Year we can give oranges as a way of wishing good luck and the pomegranate, it makes reference to death, creation, to wisdom, to knowledge and the fruits are right in my bra and in that way I'm exposed but I'm also covered."

'The Ice Princess: A Drag Qween Dress' is made from cellophane and packing tape and illumintaed with an LED light. (Make up Pretty Bird Makeup) (Flashback Photography)

Thunder Bay Metis artist Michel Dumont also examines the theme of exposure and coverage in his creation The Ice Princess: A Drag Qween Dress.

Dumont built the dress from layers and layers of packing tape and cellophane and then illuminated by an LED light.

'Exposed and covered'

"What's fascinating with packing tape...is the multiple layers of packing tape that diffuses the light so it makes the dress glow and when you have a shifting LED light strip inside the dress it turns red, it turns pink, it turns orange, it turns blue, violet," Dumont said. "So all of a sudden I have a myriad of colours and shapes and it changes."

Michel Dumont (centre) with partner Vince Reginato (left). Dumont's dress, made of packing tape, will be modelled by Brandon Belise at the "Queer Landscapes, Queer Intersections' exhibition in Toronto. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

Dumont is overwhelmed by the response to his work, and has already received inquiries about potentially showing the dress in New York.

"Everyone who sees the dress, their mouths drop. When they find out it's made from packing tape, which is so easily accessible... the look of joy on their face when they see it," he said.

For years, Dumont said queer artists have been told not to express their sexuality in their creations, "not to say we were gay, not to say we were lesbian, that was not a factor in our artwork, which should stand by itself, but that separates us. It diminishes our realities."

'Finally express my queerdom'

Dumont is grateful for the chance "to actually joyfully be able to express my queerdom, it allows me a freedom of spirit and it conveys into this dress."

Queer Landscapes, Queer Intersections runs until June 23 at the John B. Aird Gallery in Toronto.

The exhibit is hosted by the Ontario Public Service Network, with the support of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.