A diverse and inclusive art world in the making

Best of 2022: STIR looks at art galleries, art collectives, and movements that supported LGBTQ artists, people of colour, and diverse life forms.

by Vatsala SethiPublished on : Dec 26, 2022

Boldly drawn lines and vivid colours draw attention to an artwork, and when the audience engages with it, they might be able to see through the eyes of the artist and receive insight into their unique point of view. In 2022, we kept a keen eye on art verticals that amplified the voices of those who are least heard, looking beyond the bright colour palette and bold lines, paying attention to inclusion and diversity. While there is still a long way to go, in 2022, LGBTQ artists were no longer segregated into a clichéd part of the show, they were appreciated by an audience that indulges in immersive exhibitions regardless of gender or sexual preferences. We are also reminded of the Black Lives Matter movement that shook the world, and how finally artists of colour are receiving considerable attention. This year the art world demonstrated that success is not dependent on one's gender identity, nationality, race, age, religion, socioeconomic background, or any other personal attribute. In addition, the past two years have also served as a reminder that our planet is not a human-only territory.

Focusing on the LGBTQ+ community, local artists, and the environment, 2022 was a year where contemporary artists pushed the envelope and championed inclusivity, forging a new path for the art world. As we look back at 2022, and our extensive coverage of the global art world—STIR has curated a selection of art collectives, artists and movements that celebrated diversity and inclusion.

LGBTQ artists

1. London's newest LGBTQ+ art space, QUEERCIRCLE, inaugurates first exhibition
Location: London, United Kingdom

Let Me Hold You by Michaela Yearwood-Dan at QUEERCIRCLE invites viewers to sit on the art | Diversity and Inclusion | STIRworld
Let Me Hold You by Michaela Yearwood-Dan at QUEERCIRCLE invites viewers to sit on the art Image: Deniz Guzel; Courtesy of QUEERCIRCLE and Michaela Yearwood-Dan

Ashley Joiner, curator and director of Are You Proud? (2019), leverages the collective experience of art in community building and catalysing conversations to operate the multi-faceted organisation QUEERCIRCLE (QC), located on Soames Walk in London. At the nexus of visual art, culture, and social change, it functions as a charity organisation, an interactive art community space, and an art gallery, bringing together creative practitioners such as British designers and visual artists along with international artists, offering them a safe space for expression and conversation. In the year 2022, QC featured the theme of ecology with Joiner discussing how exploring ecology is crucial at this time, given the intersectional nature of ecological damage and marginalised groups.

2. Contemporary artists who investigate and reflect on the LGBTQ+ community
Location: United States

Bar Boy, 2019, Oil Painting, Salman Toor | Diversity and Inclusion | STIRworld
Bar Boy, 2019, Oil Painting, Salman Toor Image: Courtesy of Gandalf’s Gallery, Flickr

Pride Month occurs annually in June and is celebrated with vibrant, uplifting parades with floats, joyful festivals, seminars, picnics, and parties in the United States and across the world to commemorate the Stonewall riots. We looked at how contemporary artists used art to communicate their feelings about queer issues and focused on five art practices that honour this through their artistic works. Salman Toor's paintings excite and provoke attention with each brushstroke in the diaspora art series, drawing inspiration from familiar places and highly intimate situations. Laura Aguilar created candid photographs of herself, her friends and family, LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities. She featured herself in photos and films that are frequently political as well as personal and straddle performative, feminist, and queer art forms. Drawing on a wide range of nude portraiture, Camilo Godoy's photographs reveal attention to form that is as classical as it is contemporary. In addition to the above-mentioned artists, we featured Alex Baczynski-Jenkins’ practice, a visual artist with an affinity towards choreography, creating works in response to queer politics of desire, vulnerability, and collectivity. Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and photographer from South Africa, now residing in Johannesburg. Muholi's stated objective is to “rewrite a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our struggle and presence during the height of hate crimes in SA and abroad.”

3. 'We Fancy’ asserts queer aesthetics across forms and representations
Location: New York, United States

Free Time, 2014, Egg tempera on panel, Doug Safranek | Diversity and Inclusion | STIRworld
Free Time, 2014, Egg tempera on panel, Doug Safranek Image: © 2022 Doug Safranek; Courtesy of ACA Galleries, New York

Eric Shiner curated the exhibition We Fancy at the Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery, which examined the heritage and works of over 30 LGBTQIA+ artists who have either previously attended or taught at the Art Students League in New York. Established in 1875 by a group of independent artists, the League is known to create studio-based visual art education—for close to 150 years now—which is accessible to people from all walks of life. The exhibition highlighted the significance of acceptance and rising popularity of queer aesthetics with immersive installations and mixed media works by League artists—Judith Godwin, Deborah Kass, Robert Rauschenberg, Emilio Sanchez, Chitra Ganesh, and Cy Twombly, as well as Bernard Perlin, William Behnken, Doug Safranek, Dominique Medici, and Coco Dolle.

Artists of colour

1. Tschabalala Self's public sculpture 'Seated' reclaims and owns a public space
Location: New York, United States

Closer shot, Seated, 2022,  Sculpture, Tschabalala Self | Diversity and Inclusion | STIRworld
Closer shot, Seated, 2022, Sculpture, Tschabalala Self Image: © Lucy Emms; Courtesy of Avant Arte

Based in the Tri-State area of New York, Tschabalala Self is well-known for her syncretic approach that combines painting and printing to examine concepts related to the Black body. Her public installation work, which combines painted, printed, and sewed materials, is inspired by the shapes of female bodies. For the public sculpture, the American artist worked with bronze, owing to its historical significance in both western contemporary art and the African Diaspora. Self wanted to make a public art sculpture for a public space that spoke of joy while also recognising the strength that a simple act of seating can have in establishing one's claim to a space.

2. ‘In the Black Fantastic’ at Hayward Gallery is UK’s first show on the work of Black artists
Location: London, United Kingdom

Installation view of Cauleen Smith's work for In the Black Fantastic at Hayward Gallery, 2022 | Diversity and Inclusion | STIRworld
Installation view of Cauleen Smith's work for In the Black Fantastic at Hayward Gallery, 2022 Image: Courtesy of STIR

The Hayward Gallery organised an immersive exhibition titled In the Black Fantastic, marking the United Kingdom's first significant art exhibition for artists of colour. The paintings and art installations on display employed magical aspects to explore alternate realms and challenge racial injustice. Curator Ekow Eshun assembled a collection of artists who inventively recycle and rearrange aspects of folklore, myth, science fiction, spiritual traditions, and legacies of Afrofuturism to display new works and unique commissions. Visual artists reimagined ways to represent the past and think about the future, whilst also engaging with the challenges and conflicts of the present.

Diverse life forms

1. Exploring micro and macrostructured fungi works by Daniel Lie at 'Unnamed Entities'
Location: New York, United States

Daniel Lie: Unnamed Entities, 2022. New Museum, New York | Diversity and Inclusion | STIRworld
Daniel Lie: Unnamed Entities, 2022. New Museum, New York Image: Dario Lasagni

Looking at deterioration as a powerful and disruptive element as a result of cohabiting with it, Daniel Lie views rottenness to be non-binary, which demonstrates that life and death have no beginning or finish. The concept of growth and decay is a fundamental principle of life. It's also the main source of inspiration for Lie, an Indonesian-Brazilian installation artist who created the site-specific art installations at his solo exhibition, Unnamed Entities, at the New Museum, Brooklyn. The Sao Paulo,Brazil, born artist has been working with organic materials to create large-scale installation works that both grow and perish over a decade. Lie considers their works as living things endowed with knowledge and agency, exploring the idea of rotting as a way to disrupt conventional binary oppositions between life and death.

2. Entangled Others Studio: Iterations of entanglement through generative art
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Computational Currents in Hybrid Ecosystems, 2022, generative art | Diversity and Inclusion | STIRworld
Computational Currents in Hybrid Ecosystems, 2022, generative art Image: Courtesy of Entangled Others Studio

“Why are tools that we use–technologies? Why are tools used by other creatures–a part of nature?” With this provocation, generative artist Feileacan McCormick and neural artist Sofia Crespo examine how birds construct their nests and express several iterations of entanglements. McCormick shared that “the idea of ‘entangled" is to unveil how interconnected we really are and to codify what we really think of that which we see as different from ourselves. ‘Others,’ for us, is to acknowledge the more-than-human notions for even to take a breath is to have an interaction with a more-than-human entity.” The digital artists used artificial intelligence to produce digital art, AI art, 3D art, and other types of interactive art, giving spectators an immersive and enlightening experience.

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