Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Pre-order Book!
Pre-order Book!
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

ART Event looks at gender mysteries in artist Henry Darger's works
by Liz Baudler
2017-07-12

This article shared 980 times since Wed Jul 12, 2017
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Concurrent with its Henry Darger exhibit, "Betwixt and Between," coming to a close, Intuit: The Center For Intuitive and Outside Art has hosted a spate of events exploring gender identity in Darger's work.

Darger was a Chicago-based artist who wrote and illustrated a lengthy manuscript about the adventures of a group of young girls, The Vivian Girls. The illustrations get scholar's attention. Darger traced pre-adolescent girls from advertisements and stuck them in fields of fantastical flowers, battle scenes, religious classrooms...and often depicted them nude with rudimentary penises. On July 1, Intuit invited guest curator Leisa Rundquist to share some of her research into Darger's mystery.

"I look for patterns in his work, a sense of internal logic," Rundquist said about her approach to Darger. She commented that while Darger is considered an outsider artist, outsider artists are often considered "immune to culture."

"I don't think he's immune to culture at all," Rundquist said, citing the Little Eva character from Uncle Tom's Cabin and Shirley Temple as emblematic inspirations for Darger's girls.

Temple's movies were a huge cultural touchstone in the 1930s, and spoke to views of innocence at the time. "White little girls transformed adults for the better, as long as men saw them as cute," Rundquist explained, pointing out that childhood innocence used to be "impervious" to adult sexuality. It was only after Freudian theory went mainstream in the 1940s that movies like Temple's became more suspect to modern eyes, she said.

Darger's taste in media and Catholicism may have had an interesting impact on the Vivian Girl's gender ambiguity. He was a fan of L. Frank Baum's Oz books, and Rundquist highlighted a an Oz storyline where a little boy has to turn into a princess in order to save the kingdom. She also noted that Darger was a devotee of a saint who called herself "the daughter of Joan of Arc," a figure who not only figured prominently in WWI propaganda, but is often tied to martyrdom and gender ambiguity. Joan of Arc imagery shows up in some of Darger's illustrations.

Rundquist explained that early Christian mythology often showed women gaining male characteristics when they achieved "Christlike fortitude." She offered examples of St. Wilgefortis, a 10-year-old who grew a beard when she heard she was arranged to be married, and St. Vivia Perpetua, who dreamed that she turned into a man the night before she was martyred. Rundquist sees Vivia Perpetua as the Vivian Girls' possible namesake. She noted that the girls, who Darger constantly claims are not dead despite suffering horrible trauma, are often depicted without clothes and with penises when active or in danger. But she also noted that Darger did not find the girls odd, describing them as both beautiful and beloved. "Nothing in the writing makes them sound different," Rundquist said.

To quell speculation about Darger's motives, Rundquist offered more examples of historical media's depiction childhood innocence, including an article depicting a topless three-year-old girl from a Chicago newspaper, and the infamous Coppertone ad where a puppy pulls down a little girl's underwear. Rundquist described the latter as a "slippage of erotica." While people often focus on Darger's collections of this material—he had twenty copies of this ad alone—Rundquist disputes the idea that it was necessarily his private erotica. "It's mainstream erotica," she said. "It's part of our culture."

Not only did Darger trace ads, ads educated him; for instance, he consistently depicted the Vivans in above the knee styles to indicate their pre-adolescent age. Rundquist showed tracings of shoes and socks that Darger seemed to focus on intensely. Though Darger's world was fantastic, Rundquist sees his attention to clothing as grounding. "He tried to make things realistic as possible to make them believable," she said.

The audience was curious about Darger's personal life, including whether he might have been queer or trans. Rundquist said while that was a current focus of research, Darger "was really reticent to say much about himself." Still, Rundquist found it amazing that someone in the 20s or 30s would have "unapologetically" created artwork along these lines. And she praised Darger's ability as a storyteller, pointing out that his work was originally illustrations for his massive novel.

"This is where we're at in Darger's work," Rundquist said, referring to the exhibit's title, "Betwixt and Between," from a JM Barrie quote about his own child creation, Peter Pan. "We kind of like it, but we might be apprehensive about looking at it too much."


This article shared 980 times since Wed Jul 12, 2017
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Illinois first state to extend Medicaid postpartum benefits to 12 months
2021-04-13
Gov. JB Pritzker announced that Illinois is the first state in the nation to extend full Medicaid benefits from 60 days to 12 months postpartum, following the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approval ...


Gay News

ART 'Immersive Van Gogh' to now continue through Nov. 28
2021-04-12
Due to popular demand, the U.S. premiere of the art experience "Immersive Van Gogh" exhibit will extend its run to Nov. 28 after having sold out the current block of tickets. It was originally extended through ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Trans singer, 'Pose,' Kate Winslet, Lil Nas X, Broadway
2021-04-11
Trans femme indie-punk artist Evan Greer (she/her) released a dystopian new music video for the song "Surveillance Capitalism," a press release noted. She is using it to launch StopSpotifySurveillance.org with Fight for the Future, where she ...


Gay News

Roommate of victim of 2004 Chicago stabbing seeking justice for unsolved cold case
2021-04-09
--From a Cook County Crime Stoppers press release - On Wednesday, March 24, 2004, 31-year old Kevin Clewer was found brutally murdered with over 40 stab wounds in his Lakeview apartment in Chicago. Kevin's body was discovered by his father on the evening of March ...


Gay News

Attorneys general challenge Tennessee abortion law
2021-04-09
A group of 20 attorneys general filed an amicus brief in a case challenging a Tennessee law that requires women to have two in-person appointments at least 48 hours apart before having an abortion, The Hill ...


Gay News

Movie about art sensation born into slavery to premiere April 16
2021-04-08
Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts—a film about a man who was born into slavery, and whose works became sensations in the art world—will premiere Friday, April 16, in local virtual cinemas of Music Box Theatre and Facets. ...


Gay News

Andersonville Chamber of Commerce marks Earth Day with Andersonville in Bloom April 22 - 25
2021-04-07
CHICAGO (April 7, 2021) — In celebration of Earth Day Weekend, the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) celebrates all things spring with Andersonville in Bloom, returning to the neighborhood April 22 — 25, 2021 after a ...


Gay News

Mercury Theater to reopen; new artistic director named
2021-04-07
Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Ave., has announced its reopening—along with new leadership. New Artistic Director Christopher Chase Carter returns to the theater where he collaborated on the hit productions of Little Shop of Horrors ...


Gay News

Gerber/Hart hosts 'Disappeared: Chicago's Lost Lesbian Bars' screening, discussion
2021-04-06
Gerber/Hart Library and Archives (Gerber/Hart) hosted a virtual screening of Disappeared: Chicago's Lost Lesbian Bars, a short-film documentary that Jacob Pieczynski directed. A panel discussion followed the screening. The 2017 ...


Gay News

THEATER 'Security,' with Eric Roberts, running April 10-May 2
2021-04-05
Kane Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Daniil Krimer and Managing Director Avery Bowne announced the world-premiere online production of Hammaad Chaudry's Security, as part of the company's new Multiplatform Commission. Security ...


Gay News

Chicago's LGBTQ+ Armenian community aims to 'Cher the Love for Artsakh'
2021-04-02
Entanik—a queer Armenian-American organization based in Chicago and operating online and whose name means "family" in Armenian—is holding its first event, "Cher the Love for Artsakh." The event is a virtual drag show featuring 12 Armenian ...


Gay News

First U.S. exhibition of Greek 20th-century artist Yannis Tsarouchis: Dancing in Real Life May 7
2021-04-02
--From a press release - (CHICAGO, IL — April 2, 2021) — Wrightwood 659 is pleased to host the first U.S. exhibition devoted to the work of Yannis Tsarouchis (1910—1989), widely regarded as one of the greatest Greek painters of the ...


Gay News

Chella Man talks media endeavors, the fashion world, upcoming book, AAPI visibility
2021-03-31
The multi-talented 22-year-old, Deaf, genderqueer, transgender, Jewish, AAPI, artist and activist Chella Man has done more in his short life than most people achieve in their lifetimes. This includes a successful YouTube channel; TedX talk, modeling ...


Gay News

LGBTQ students sue U.S. Department of Education
2021-03-31
More than 30 LGBTQ students are suing the U.S. Department of Education in a class-action lawsuit filed March 29, NBC News reported. The students allege that they dealt with discrimination at 25 federally funded Christian colleges ...


Gay News

New Equality Map: Bans on transgender youth participation in sports
2021-03-29
(March 29, 2021) — Across the country, state legislatures have introduced bills that would ban transgender youth from participating in K-12 school sports, and in some cases in college as well. This year alone, at least ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.