We Fancy: A Legacy of LGBTQIA+ Artists at The Art Students League




Doug Safranek, Free Time, 2014; Egg tempera on panel, 25 x 36 in. courtesy ACA Galleries, New York © Doug Safrnek

The Art Students League is proud to announce We Fancy, an exhibition that examines the work and legacy of over 30 LGBTQIA+ artists who have studied or taught at the League throughout its history and have played a unique role in laying the foundation for the acceptance and popularization of queer aesthetics. The exhibition includes works by well-known League artists including Judith Godwin, Deborah Kass, Robert Rauschenberg, Emilio Sanchez, Chitra Ganesh, and Cy Twombly, as well as work by artists including Bernard Perlin, William Behnken, Doug Safranek, Dominique Medici, and Coco Dolle. The exhibition will also feature a new commissioned work by Chicago-based Ajmal Millar who will create a site-specific installation at the League. We Fancy is organized by Guest Curator, Eric Shiner and is on view at the League’s Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery October 27–November 27, 2022.

Andrew Drilon, The Fragile Mansion of Love (1 of 5), 2017; Ink and ink wash on Bristol board; 11 x 17 in. each courtesy of the artist © 2022 Andrew Drilon

We Fancy traces the increasing possibility of artistic freedom that studying at the League presented to queer artists over time, and the selected works encompass a broad range of themes, from the Pop aesthetic of Deborah Kass and the abstract expressionism of Sonja Sekula to the magical realism of Bernard Perlin and the architectural meditations of Alvin Gill-Tapia and Emilio Sanchez.

“Since its inception, the Art Students League has been a site of unbridled creativity and a home for radical artmakers who reject social norms in the name of Art,” said Michael Hall, the League’s Artistic & Executive Director. “Because of the League’s history as an incubator for revolutionary artmaking, it is not surprising that, historically, many LGBTQIA+ artists found the League to be a space where they could express themselves without the constraints of traditional art education.”

Guest curator Eric Shiner shared, “In researching for this exhibition, it became clear in myriad ways that queerness has been a part of the League’s fabric from its earliest days and that through its dedication to creative expression, it made space—if at times imperfectly or awkwardly—for queer artists to have as much of a semblance of safe space for the expression of their identity as was possible at that precise moment in time.”

Neil A. Lane, Trinity, 2022; Graphite, Watercolor pencil, ink; 12 x 9 in. courtesy of the artist © Neil A. Lane.

The Art Students League will host two public programs in conjunction with the exhibition. On Thursday, November 3, 2022, Eric Shiner will be joined in conversation by artist Patricia Cronin to discuss her work Memorial To A Marriage (2022), the first and only Marriage Equality monument in the world, created at a time when same sex marriage was illegal in the United States. Curator Eric Shiner will lead a talk on Friday, November 18 discussing the exhibition and the legacy of LGBTQIA+ artists at the League.

Memorial To A Marriage: 20 Years of the World’s First Marriage Equality Monument ~ A Discussion with Patricia Cronin and Eric Shiner November 3, 2022, 6–7 pm Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery

We Fancy Curator Talk ~ November 18, 2022, 6–7 pm, Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery Eric Shiner was most recently the executive director of Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. He was formerly artistic director of White Cube, New York and senior vice president of contemporary art at Sotheby’s. Prior to this, Shiner was the director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh from 2010 to 2016 and was the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Warhol from 2008 to 2010. A leading scholar on Andy Warhol and Asian contemporary art, Shiner lived and worked in Japan for a total of six years and was assistant curator on the inaugural Yokohama Triennale in 2001. Shiner has curated dozens of contemporary art exhibitions in cities around the globe and was the team leader on The Warhol Museum’s major Warhol retrospective that traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo between 2012 and 2014. Notable exhibitions include Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei in 2015/16, Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After in 2012, Armory Focus: USA at the Armory Show in 2013 and Armory Platform in 2017. He is immediate past president of the board of Visual AIDS, a NYC-based nonprofit promoting the artistic legacy of those artists lost to and living with AIDS. He is also on the board of The Romare Bearden Foundation and Art at a Time Like This. He lives in Lansing, Michigan and upstate New York with his partner, Dr. Ishaan Kumar, and their long-haired dachshund, Juno.

We Fancy: A Legacy LGBTQIA+ Artists at the League  will be on view from October 27 through November 27, 2022 at The Art Students League, 215 West 57th Street, NYC.