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New Des Moines Art Center Exhibit Explores Queer Influence in Art

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A new art exhibition is heading to the Des Moines Art Center, kicking off Pride Month with a first-of-its-kind installment.

The exhibit is called “Queer Abstraction.” The artwork explores queer influence in art.

“It`s really fun to see people kind of approach the curtain with some hesitation and then when they walk through it there is this moment of exhilaration,” said Jared Ledesma, assistant curator for the Des Moines Art Center.

Ledesma is the one behind the exhibit and that was his goal. "Queer Abstraction" is the first exhibition in the Des Moines Art Center’s 70-year history to focus exclusively on queer sexuality and gender identity.

“A lot of their voices have been silenced,” said Ledesma. “You will not see any people in the imagery, any figures. It’s all abstract artwork.”

Felix Gonzalez-Torres is the creator of the hanging sculpture, "Untitled" (Water), one of the pieces in the exhibit.

“He spent a lot of summers with his partner, Ross, on bodies of water, on lakes in Canada. He was also really fond of the color blue because it connected him to his partner, Ross, who had died of AIDS,” said Ledesma.

The piece is one of 50 others that Ledesma hopes helps visitors connect to and understand the queer community.

"It does have this history of being weird or different and in this case, that`s not bad. I think it`s being used as a way of 'yes I am different than you and we`re all different from each other,'" Ledesma said.

And like the waves of this shimmery blue curtain in Gonzalez-Torres' art, Ledesma says gender and sexuality are just as fluid and abstract.

“We place these physical or representational markers of what gay looks like or what trans looks like and to think about it as not a physical marker but just what it is, a sexuality or an identity, and that it can be or look in different ways and that`s part of the mission of a lot of these artists,” said Ledesma.

The exhibit’s grand opening is June 1 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

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