Lesbian. Gay. Bisexual. Transgender. Questioning. In between these “all-encompassing” words and the convenient acronym are lives and experiences that can never be captured in letters or titles.
No one is just LGBTQ.
And Fairfield University’s first LGBTQ and Ally Art show last Thursday illustrated that fact.
The art show kicked off the LGBTQ Month of events this October. The committee had been working on the event for four months, according to Dunya Majeed ’15, a member of the LGBTQ Month planning committee.
The committee is comprised of faculty, staff and students from all parts of campus. Associate Director of the Career Planning Center Meredith Marquez invited Majeed into the committee.
Majeed opened the event with a warm welcome and thanked all of the contributing artists.
The art varied from sculptures and portraits to more abstract pieces. Students walking through the BCC stopped to enjoy the art and food.
“It’s time for a change in the world,” said Majeed as she closed her speech. “Whether change is influenced by an art show or universal marriage equality – I’ll be there.”
When asked what motivated her involvement in the committee, Majeed responded, “The most important issues of our generation are LGBTQ issues…we need events like these [on campus], or how else are we going to get the word out?”
“I found the art a little bit odd,” said Christopher Buza ’16, as he observed the first exhibit by artist and student Jesus Nuñez ’14.
“But I’m interested to see what the community produced,” continued Buza. “It’s definitely good to have a university-sponsored event to celebrate minority groups on campus.”
But the LGBTQ community at Fairfield is still “very underrepresented,” said psychology professor Dr. Judith Primavera. She attended the event in support of friend Joanne Choly and the community.
“But [the representation] is so much better than 20 years ago,” continued Primavera. “That being said, things are not up to speed with other campuses that have more diversity – in spite of our efforts.”
Some students are also trying their best to make an effort. “I joined Alliance because I lacked an understanding of LGBTQ issues,” said Ricky Solano ’14, an Alliance executive board member attending the event.
Solano said he attended the event to not only support the community but also to learn more about the community. “When you don’t understand something, you should immerse yourself in it,” said Solano.
Solano said he was able to expand his boundaries and meet incredible people in the LGBTQ community because he recognized that “there is more to a person than one quality.”
Contributing artist Tony Ferraiolo agrees with this statement. “I am artist, a nice guy, a friend,” said Ferraiolo.
Ferraiolo is also a certified life coach and Transgender Youth Advocate in New Haven. He founded Create Yourself, a group to support transgender teenagers. Ferraiolo hopes when students look at his work they see there is more to him than being transgendered. He is more than “one quality.”
Ferraiolo’s vibrant and shocking work portrays the struggle of being contained in categories of gender.
One of Ferraiolo’s art pieces is a bottle of testosterone, and another is a Ken doll with the words: “You are not a man.”
“I used to self-harm,” said Ferraiolo. “[Now] through the art work I released my emotions.”
He founded Create Yourself to help teenagers express their emotions in a healthy way. “Create yourself, don’t cut yourself,” said Ferraiolo.
He hopes showcasing his art at Fairfield University will let students know “if they have something on their mind, they can say it on a canvas,” said Ferraiolo.
“Expressing feelings and dreams, all come through in the arts,” said Primavera.
Just as Ferraiolo used his experiences to help transgendered youth, Primavera used a tremendous loss in her life to help artists realize their potential.
Primavera attended the Art Showcase with a t-shirt that read: “ART IS LIFE.” The t-shirt was in honor of the Jaime A. Hulley Arts Foundation.
In 2002, Primavera started the foundation in memory of her daughter, Jaime. Primavera lost Jaime to leukemia and wanted to create a foundation that helped others express themselves through the arts, as Jaime did.
“Art isn’t just for those who are marginalized. Art makes people more humane and healthier,” said Primavera.
The art show demonstrated the desire to help others realize there is always a “light of hope,” said Majeed.