Arts & Life

LGBTQ+ artists to be featured in Outober exhibit

In honor of “Outober” celebrating LGBTQ+ pride at Long Beach State, the Daily Forty-Niner will be hosting an art exhibit with the theme of “identity.” The pieces will represent the artists and their relationships with their queer identities.

The artists come from a variety of majors, ranging from studio art to pre-nursing, and they all have skills they look forward to showcasing at the exhibit. The featured pieces will include digital art, paintings and sculptures.

Three of the artists being highlighted at the Outober exhibit are Kio Claudia Villa, Sienna Ramirez and Sarah Mueller.

Kio Claudia Villa is a fourth year drawing and painting major who uses she/they pronouns. Villa has been creating art for their whole life. After teaching art to inner city students through a nonprofit called “After-school All-Stars” for eight years, Villa wanted to continue pursuing art at CSULB in hopes of becoming an art professor in the future.

Artist Kio Claudia Villa aims to inform others about the many types of love through her art.
Artist Kio Claudia Villa aims to inform others about the many types of love through her art. Photo credit: Kio Claudia Villa

“I adore teaching, but I also adore creating,” Villa said. “Creating art that represents alternative lifestyles and the intricacies of different gender identities is really important to me.”

Villa is a physiologically intersex person, meaning that her body does not naturally create progesterone. They are also bisexual, polyamorous and disabled, so being able to represent their identity through art has been an eye-opening experience for them.

“Being able to portray my identity as well as the identities of others gives my art purpose,” she said. “I hope through the Outober exhibit, my art helps to bridge the gap between the LGBTQ community on campus and those who aren’t in the community. I want other students to understand the significance of identity and why it’s crucial for all identities to be recognized.”

Kio Claudia Villa expresses her identity as a disabled person through her work.
Kio Claudia Villa expresses her identity as a disabled person through her work. Photo credit: Kio Claudia Villa

Second year studio art major Sienna Ramirez, who uses she/they pronouns, is also passionate about representing her identity and the identities of those around her through her art.

“The goal of most of my art is to trigger a feeling, any feeling really,” they said. “In the end I hope finding familiarity in my pieces allow the viewer to feel seen and not alone in their struggle. To see their feelings on paper as a visual representation will hopefully give some comfort. and if not then I hope someone finds it cool to look at.”

Ramirez has been creating art for around five years and enjoys multimedia art as well as mixing artistic mediums through her work. Having the opportunity to explore herself through art has allowed Ramirez to learn more about herself.

“My piece relates to the idea of identity in the sense that it was a representation of my mind space before I had allowed myself to explore my identity and sexuality. Something I want to point out in my art is my use of color. Back then, the bright colors of the LGBTQ+ flags had taunted me,” Ramirez said. “Now I identify as bisexual, but I’m still on the journey of self-discovery.”

Second year artist Sienna Ramirez portrays her
In this piece, second year artist Sienna Ramirez uses symbolism and color to portray her mind space before coming out as bisexual. Photo credit: Sienna Ramirez

Another artist that will be featured in the Outober exhibit is second year studio art major Sarah Mueller who uses they/them and she/her pronouns. Mueller has always been artistically inclined, realizing in high school that art wasn’t just a hobby but a passion they wanted to pursue.

“I have been creating art ever since I was a kid, it was something I had always enjoyed but not something until later years that I decided to pursue,” Mueller said. “I’ve always loved seeing art in the public eye, seeing people’s awe and amazement over something you poured so much time and effort into is the best feeling, at least to me.”

Coming from a conservative town in Indiana, Mueller has enjoyed the LGBTQ+ representation in Long Beach, but feels that the small queer community in her hometown allowed members of the community to uplift each other more.

Mueller faced obstacles in Indiana because of their artwork depicting LGBTQ+ love. At their high school, they were unable to participate in an art gallery because they portrayed homosexual relationships. Although this was a challenging experience, it brought Mueller closer to the queer community in Indiana.

“Here, the community is so big which gives an advantage to voices being able to be heard and change to be something that is achievable, but I almost feel like it is harder to form connections due to the vast population. I almost feel more connected to those back home because we are still trying to fight for inclusion in the public eye,” they said. “Long Beach is doing a great job with LBGTQ+ representation, but we need to remember that places still exist where inclusion and representation are not easy to obtain.”

Artist Sarah Mueller captures their emotions around their sexuality and gender identity through their work entitled "Perception."
Artist Sarah Mueller captures their emotions around their sexuality and gender identity through their work entitled "Perception." Photo credit: Sarah Mueller

Mueller feels that labeling themself constricts their identity, so they identify as queer to describe both their sexuality and gender. As a genderqueer person, their identity is an extremely important part of Mueller’s life.

“Identifying as a genderqueer individual in a world which only reads gender as black and white is a very hard pill to swallow,” they said. “Society has no right to perceive me at first glance or any individual for that matter, but it is the harsh reality we live in. This piece reflects the anger and frustration I feel being trapped behind the black and white barrier, but in the background is seen lively colors trying to break through to the foreground to reveal my true identity.”

Mueller hopes that their art will invoke strong feelings within the audience and create a mutual understanding between artist and viewer.

Each of the 15 featured artists at the Outober exhibit have a unique style and individual story. The exhibit will provide them the opportunity to express themselves through art representing their identities within the LGBTQ+ community.

The Outober Exhibit will take place on Oct. 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the 49er Shops Bookstore.

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