Local Art Show Highlights Coming Out

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When did you come out of the closet? A new art show examines the secret struggles LGBT people often deal with. “Which Way Out – Personal Thoughts Made Public,” opening on Fri., Feb. 21 at Studio 18 in Pembroke Pines features seven artists –Nestor Arenas, Randy Burman, Jacqueline Gopie, Donna Haynes, Philip Ross Munro, Lori Nozick and Sara Stites with each artist reflecting the show’s given theme.

“We all have something that we choose to share or keep private,” said Jill Slaughter, the show’s curator.

Accompanying the seven artists’ works, students from the Gay-Straight Alliance group at Pembroke Pines Charter High School will contribute written pieces – poems, short stories— and artwork to “Which Way Out.”

Judy Oltmans leads the Gay-Straight Alliance group at the school. The teens meet on Mondays after school to work on projects and attend discussions. She says the main idea of the group is to provide students with a safe place to get together and socialize. She admits the group is small but makes a big impact on the students’ lives. She says students are comforted knowing the club exists on campus, even though many don’t attend.

For the art show, the students also worked on a photo booth. “We have designed the inside of the photo booth with road signs,” said Oltmans. “One is painted in green and looks like a highway road sign that says: ‘Follow your heart, Next exit.’”

“Another one is like a big, red stop sign that instead of saying ‘stop’ it says ‘voice.’ And underneath it is says: Use your voice to speak your mind,” she said. At the show’s opening students will sing. And attendees can take photos in the booth for a $3 suggested donation. Proceeds will benefit the Gay-Straight Alliance.

“The LGBT community is often faced with the decision on whether they want to go public or not. In the gay, youth community, if they don’t share their orientation incidents of mental health risks rise,” said Slaughter.

Slaughter says typically LGBT teens have a higher incident of suicide.

The Gay-Straight Alliance at the Pembroke Pines Charter High School will participate in Day Of Silence on April 11, 2014. Students remain silent all day to honor LGBT related suicides.

Artist Lori Nozick constructed an interactive sculpture, titled Secret House. The piece is 6-by-4-feet with a point of entry on the side. The public is invited to write secrets and drop them into the house made of transparent materials. The house indicates a sense of privacy and as it is filled with secrets, viewers will see that secretive information will come out.

Jacqueline Gopie, a Jamaican painter, remembers before she came out. She rendered this memory into a self-portrait painting.

Randy Burman, a married Miamian, reflects on the sense of isolation in his installation, Discrimination Seating. He covered one chair in vibrant yarn, a yarn bombing technique and confined within a barbed-wire enclosure. The rest are 20, standard gray metal folding chairs set up in four rows of five chairs each. He left those bare creating a stark juxtaposition.

He takes the literal approach in his Family Portraits. A series of framed family photos sit on a mantle and each picture has one or more of the member’s faces obscured.

“Which Way Out – Personal Thoughts Made Public” is on display through April 3, 2014, at Studio 18, 1101 Poinciana Drive, Pembroke Pines. Call 954-961-6067 for more information.

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