On April 28, the LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project hosted on opening reception to kick off its first ever art exhibit, Iridescent Footprints: Stories and Glories of Our Lives, at Center on Addison. The exhibition features collaborative art pieces that showcase the complex stories of LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project members.
The LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project was launched in the summer of 2019 and according to its website, "connects two populationsLGBTQ+ youth and LGBTQ+ elderswho rarely have the chance to interact. A partnership between The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Center on Addison at Center on Halsted and the University of Illinois at Chicago, we bring together racially, socioeconomically and gender diverse cohorts of LGBTQ+ college students and older adults (60+) for year-long series of bi-weekly themed dialogues, creative work and shared dinners."
Attendees perused the art pieces ahead of a performance led by Haunted Genderqueer Doll Lily "Basil" MacLachlan. MacLachlan emphatically spoke out about trans rights, which elicited cheers from the audience. Then MacLachlan brought some of the attendees onstage to dance.
"Hanging out with college-age people, which I also did in my career, you get so much energy and knowledge from them," said LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project elder participant Phyllis Johnson at the event. "I think the students are really creative and they have given me a new perspective about [lots] of things [including] identity. I have re-thought my identity. Originally, I was just your garden-variety lesbian but now I am an asexual lesbian which is something some of my lesbian friends do not understand.
"This whole discussion about what we want to do and how people think love is always romantic lovebut it is more than that. [For our artwork project], we wrote love letters and exchanged them with each other. It was just nice and really supportive environment. We worked independently … so ours is almost invisible."
"I was doing a lot of listening to everybody's conversations and being in a group myself making art while having conversations with our elders in the group who had a lot of insight," said LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project Exhibition Manager-Intern and young adult participant Katia Klemm at the event. "It was really incredible to me to see how people communicated with each other. How language is used and changed. How discoveries were made throughout the entire process.
"To be around people who we are not normally exposed to [and be able to] talk about this [is great]. My grandparents and really anybody older than me in my family is not able to talk about LGBTQ [people and issues]. It has been really beautiful to talk about it openly and to joke about it with these LGBTQ elders. To get wisdom from them because they have been through hardship that is similar to ours [and learn the differences in hardships between the generations]. For me, this project has been grounding at a time when we are in college and away from our families, and other things we thought were grounding like childhood religion and all these rules you had to follow was really uprooting. I have been able to find love, purpose and a community who will be able to support me when I feel rocky on my feet. That has been really invaluable to me."
LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project Co-Facilitator and University of Chicago Crown Family School Senior Lecturer and Director of Master's Program in Social Work, Social Policy and Social Service Administration Lisa Moore told Windy City Times at the event that she came aboard this project in the Fall of 2022 at the urging of LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project Co-Founder and School of the Art Institute of Chicago Visual and Critical Studies Department Instructor Karen Morris who knew Moore had experience facilitating groups and working with LGBTQ+ populations.
"It is really precious and rare to have LGBTQ elders and young adults coming together, and actually having conversations because our world does not make that natural connection even though it should be," said Moore. "The coming together piece is the most special and this [exhibit] is the perfect progression. In the fall, the group had different conversations about themes like race and history, and then to do the art-making, gave them the space to actually bring together their experiences. I think that part is what is so magical about the project because they went from talking about all their individual experiences to saying lets co-create something together."
This exhibition will be on display at Center on Addison on May 2, 4 and 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
See generationliberation.com/ and windycitytimes.com/lgbt/-LGBTQ-Intergenerational-Dialogue-Project-connects-youth-elders-in-conversation/70102.html .