This weekend holds the opening for a new art exhibit at InLiquid Gallery. The fresh showcase, ‘beLONGING’, is the venue’s first exhibition of the new year, and it highlights the work of four Philadelphia area LGBTQIA+ artists: Carmel Dor, THECOLORG, Abbey Muza, and Meg Wolensky.
The interactive exhibit’s opening also coincides with the Gallery’s 50th Anniversary of ‘FOCUS’ which premiered in 1974. This new activation is meant to showcase LGBTQIA+ experiences of self-realization and finding community.
According to a release, what visitors can find at this new activation is a collection of whimsical life-size stuffed teddy bears made of rainbow–colored QR codes, intricately layered handwoven textiles and fabric, colorfully fragmented oil paintings, and sculptures that “challenge perceptions of time.” Through this ideology, the artists then locate threads of connection and affirmation, pointing to the idea of identity as an act of self-realization between oneself and others.
The artists involved in the project all found ways to express different messages throughout ‘beLONGING.’ Abbey Muza (they/them) has a variety of tapestries where they use weaving as a methodology for image-making with a focus in queer identity, haptics, and sensuality. Muza incorporates organza, wool, silk, and cotton handwoven jacquard into the pieces.
Meg Wolensky, (she/they) utilizes oil painting as a healing practice to accompany C-PTSD recovery. “Like many of us, my queerness was identified, rejected and suppressed long before I recognized it within myself,” Wolensky explained in a statement. “My survival depended on queer expression through nonverbal language. Through paint, I reconstruct a home in which my identity is welcome as I meditate on the impact of trauma.”
Another artist with the exhibit, Carmel Dor (they/them) puts the focus on the Jewish Diaspora and Israeli Nationality through painting, drawing, zine-making, and sculptures. While ‘beLONGING’s final creative, THECOLORG (she/her) plays on comforting childhood memories through site-specific installations of soft sculpture and plush.
“What makes this exhibition particularly unique is that we invite visitors to contemplate their own sense of identity and community through an interactive zine-making station,” noted Rachel Zimmerman, founder and executive director of InLiquid in a statement. Zines are essentially smaller magazines or art books used to explore interests, express identity, or catalog experiences, and visitors can make their own mark with their own expression of the work while there.
“Visitors can use materials from the artists to make their own zine and also check out a pop-up reading room with books and zines that reflect the themes present in the exhibition, which is in alignment with the rich history of self-publication across LGBTQIA+ communities,” added Clare Finin, InLiquid’s program director in another statement.
This exhibition is part of the citywide project ‘(re)FOCUS‘, a collaboration among more than 25 of Philadelphia’s visual arts organizations to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ‘FOCUS’, a milestone exhibition of American women artists that took place in Philadelphia in 1974, the release notes. In revisiting ‘FOCUS’, ‘(re)FOCUS’ includes a new generation of diverse artists working around themes of gender, sexuality, and identity.
‘beLONGING’ is on-view from Jan. 5 to Feb. 24, and the public is invited to attend the opening reception on Thursday, Jan. 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, visit inliquid.org