Fine Art

Asphodel & Edelweiss

I grew up hearing stories about the value of uniqueness, but I quickly learned that the ways in which I was different weren’t okay. Traumatic incidents were regular, and in the past four years, I planned how I would end my life more than ten times.

And I’m one of the lucky ones.

In over 70 countries, openly living as a gender-fluid homosexual would result in imprisonment or execution. The struggle to balance identity and safety creates the trauma that characterizes queer stories, both in the U.S. and abroad. But if I’ve learned anything from those nights sobbing in the shower, it’s that discovering how to love yourself unapologetically makes the pain worth it.

This exhibit proclaims, perhaps stubbornly, that love will always find a way. This proclamation is made in the official languages of those 70 countries that criminalize their LGBTQ citizens.

Note: This project was exhibited in the 2020 Senior BFA Showcase at the Southern Utah Museum of Art and has been accepted into the 2020 Queer Spectra Arts Festival in the fall.

Photo of three triangular frames on the wall with a pedestal holding a book and stickers in the center

Posters

Showcased in a non-traditional format, these triangular posters introduce a queer story to the viewers. Together, the three say “The way a gorgeous meadow knows many feet, history has stomped on those who dared to be different. A bent leaf will always wear a scar, and the pain may last a lifetime. But like a flower determined to bloom, love will always find a way.” This story is told in the official languages of the 70+ countries where it is illegal to be LGBTQ.

Rather than using a rainbow color scheme, I chose the inverted pink triangle, which was used to mark queer individuals in Nazi concentration camps. This symbol hearkens back to the historical oppression of gender and sexual minorities, which fit this somber story more than a rainbow explosion could.

This symbol isn’t as well-known to a general audience, so in a way, I could ‘trick’ people into engaging with the show. Homophobic individuals need to understand the message of this show, and by using a subdued greyscale and pink scheme, they would be more likely to read through the material. The messages on the posters aren’t inherently queer, so by time they moved to the book in the exhibit, they would hopefully be feeling some empathy for whoever they assumed this exhibit was referring to.

Two of the frames on the wall Triangle poster that says 'But like a flower determined to bloom, love will always find a way'

Book

Using only text, this book expands on the narrative of the posters. This collective LGBTQ story is told with supplemental text in the background, which helps the reader flow through the book. On further inspection, the viewer can see that this text provides further meaning and weight to the story. For example, the spread about the Pulse Nightclub massacre includes the names of the victims.

This book shares a name with the exhibit, Asphodel and Edelweiss. The asphodel flower grows in sandy soil where no other plants can, and the Greeks believed it to be the flower of heroes. Edelweiss represents true love and grows on steep cliffs. Both represent a resilience inherent to queer people; even in impossible situations, GSMs have persevered and thrived throughout history.

To read the book, click here
Book spread about hateful speech Book spread with the text about Pride parades
Book cover that says 'Asphodel & Edelweiss' Book spread that says 'In over 70 countries, expression of sexuality and gender is illegal.' Book spread that says 'Sadly, this hatred for Gender and Sexual Minorities isn't a thing of the past. In 2016, a man open-fired inside an LGBTQ nightclub, slaughtering 49.' Book spread that says 'They are proclaiming that they will never turn back, that they will never stop loving themselves.'