'A really important moment:' New art exhibit celebrates Windsor's LGBTQ community
The exhibit runs until the end of October
An exhibit at the Art Gallery of Windsor is shining a light on the experiences of Windsor's LGBTQ community.
"For me, it's a really important moment in my life," explained Meaghan Sweeney, one of the artists on display, who identifies as queer, on the asexual spectrum.
The Pride and Joy Community Art Exhibition, sponsored through an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, features about 46 artists of all ages, with more than 70 pieces of art featured so far.
Sweeney explained that for a long time, they had a hard time feeling like they belonged or that they were "queer enough."
"Being able to give myself the space to exist is one of the biggest kindnesses that I can do for myself, and also, one of the best things that people can do for themselves within the community," they said.
"So that's also why it was really important for me to be involved with this exhibition."
Sweeney's art used playing cards to create representation for the asexual, or ace, community.
Janet MacIsaac, a queer non-binary woman, submitted two pieces of artwork for the exhibit, one of which, The Art of the Flight, represents the the journey of finding love and joy after being a survivor of sexual violence.
"The piece really captures the journey from kind of that place of trauma to a place of kind of reclaiming a sense of love, happiness and pride in who I am and in my body," they said.
"That journey is something a lot of people go through, and it's a struggle ... to get to that point of loving yourself again is radical and revolutionary. And I'm happy that I was able to kind of channel a lot of the stuff I've learned over my years in education and feminism into this piece. So really proud of it."
The special initiatives co-ordinator with the art gallery, Derrick Carl Biso, who also happens to be MacIsaac's spouse, has been working on programming for the LGBTQ community for the past year.
They explained that this exhibit is the "capstone project" of everything they've been working on.
"Listening to some of the artists speak, I was getting teary-eyed," Biso said.
"I realize how important this show was and how meaningful it was to me personally. And getting to be in this room and look at all the art on the walls, and I've been doing it for a couple of weeks now, I feel so good. I feel so grounded and held by a community."
Biso added that they feel so much pride and joy with how it's all turned out, along with being able to include two pieces of their own in the exhibit as well.
The exhibit includes art work on the walls, digital displays — plus an evening gown created by a teenager getting involved in drag.
"I hope it inspires dialogue and conversation about how we can make Windsor a better place for trans and non-binary people and just generally the communities and people here who face marginalization and exclusion," MacIsaac said.
"But also dialogue about the joy and happiness and pride that we have happening in this community and just the amount of talent, creative talent that we have in the queer and trans community in Windsor."
Sweeney hopes the work generates excitement among those who identify the same as they do.
"There's very few opportunities for ace representation," they said.
"So, I hope that they enjoy that and I hope that people are curious and open and that they do feel like they're celebrated through what's going on here today."
The exhibit is already open to the public, and continues until the end of October.