LAKE WORTH BEACH — The “Being Heard, Being Seen” art exhibit, a celebration of self-identity and expression by local artists who identify as LGBTQ+, is on display through April 9 at the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County.
A 7-foot figure offering masks, interactive poetry and paintings covered with shiny, smooth resin are part of the exhibit that explores the rights, representation and experiences of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The goal of this exhibition is to encourage everyone to be their authentic selves, to champion understanding, compassion and important conversations, and to create a safe space where everyone feels heard and seen for who they are — without question or compromise. When we do that, we make room for real impact,” said Dave Lawrence, the Cultural Council president and chief executive officer.
COVID-19 has been a powerful influence in the artwork, said Jessica Ransom, director of Artist Services. Solitude, kindness and people masking their feelings during the outbreak are vividly shown in the artwork, she said.
“We have amazing artists in our community. They are putting their hearts and beings into their work,” said Ransom.
Viewers can interact with a poetry exhibit by Stacie M. Kiner and her partner Dianna I. Rosenberg. After reading the poetry, viewers are invited to write down and submit their reactions on sheets of paper.
“I want everyone to have their basic needs met,” wrote one viewer.
An exhibit by Rolando Chang Barrero, founder of the Box Gallery in West Palm Beach, is a series of acrylics showing about 50 faces lined up on the wall. Colorful, mysterious and expressive, they show joy, hope, surprise, love, sadness and fear.
The colors do not match the expressions. A fearful face is painted bright orange connoting happiness. A grinning, eyebrow-raised face is grayish,reflecting sadness.
“That’s where the mask comes in. Many of us were wearing masks to the world during the pandemic, hiding our real emotions,” said Ransom.
To acrylic-on-paper artist Kingsley Ratcliff, the art is a release of Ratcliff’s anger about issues that include abortion access restrictions and the state’s so-called Don’t Say Gay bill.
Using the pink, light blue and white transgender flag colors, Ratcliff’s art includes paintings of slogans such as “You Have No Right To My Body” and “We Existed Before You Made Slurs For Us.”
“I made these when I was very angry. If you are going to listen to my voice, you are going to see my art,” said Ratcliff.
Kathy Cotter’s artwork consists of paintings of people’s lower legs in different positions.
“I want viewers to imagine what these people are like without seeing their whole body. This is not gay art. This is good art by gay artists,” said Cotter, who formerly operated a restaurant on Cape Cod, Mass.
The largest work is the masked 7-foot figure, which is wearing high heels made of chicken wire, aluminum foil and black canvas. The figure by Emilio Apontesierra-Paretti is holding out a basketful of colorful masks.
“This shows that we are protecting each other during the pandemic,” said Ransom.
All artwork at the exhibit is for sale. Proceeds from artwork sales directly benefit local artists and support the council’s mission to grow arts and culture in Palm Beach County.
If you go
Who: Cultural Council for Palm Beach County
What: “Being Heard, Being Seen” exhibit of LGBTQ+ art
When: Through Friday, April 9, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Cultural Council for Palm Beach County, 601 Lake Ave., Lake Worth Beach
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Cultural Council exhibit: LGBTQ artists featured in Lake Worth Beach