January 6 - February 6, 2021
Max Markwald is an out trans artist fascinated with the Drag world and its loud, proud celebration of gender. Each painting features an unrestrained persona with elements to illustrate its story - Ryder Slowly, a vers(itile) king that always aims to please; and Macho Grande, the Taco Bell of drag: hot, spicy, and full of meat!
In Max’s words, “For me, gender often feels like heaviness. I have been denied healthcare, denied health insurance, harrassed in public, and had my job threatened for being queer. At a time when gay marriage was illegal, Summit County Probate Court commisioned me for a painting to be displayed above the desk where couples sign their marriage licenses. As an out trans man I donated artwork to Valor Home, a homeless veterans shelter, at a time when there is a ban on transgender people serving in our military. Ohio State
IDs have no gender option for non-binary. US Passports have no gender option for non-binary. Federal law does not adequetly or explicitly protect the transgender community. And so there is this heaviness.”
Max pulled from his connection with Cleveland Kings Action Pack (CKAP) and is featuring some of its members in this exhibition. CKAP is a radical drag organization focused on charity work and activism. As Macho Grande puts it, “Drag is always activism. Undermining, muddling, and confronting gender is an act of defiance.”
Drag Portraits is on view at Akron Soul Train’s Burton D. Morgan Exhibition Space located at 191 S. Main Street in Akron. The exhibition runs January 6 - February 6, 2021. Follow Akron Soul Train on social media for programming with virtual exhibit tours and a conversation between Max and one of his subjects.
Shani Richards' exhibition of new work was cut short in March due to COVID-19.
This month gives us another opportunity to view this important work.
As a trained metalsmith, Shani is fascinated with “how people use jewelry, body modifications, shoes and clothing to convey their race, social status, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and class.” As an undergrad at the University of Akron, Shani created a body of work inspired by the bling jewelry worn by those in the hip hop industry. She created large, heavy necklaces using derogatory language to represent the historic burden many have had to bear from words and labels, particularly in the black community. Crafting these racial slurs into shiny jewelry reflected the commercialization of black people which is rooted in slavery. For her residency, Shani further examines the power of racial slurs and expands her research to include sexual orientation and gender pronouns.