Some install shots from the Douglass Campus Center at Rutgers. Call me conceited but they really work in these spaces.
Couldn’t have done this without Randi, who set up the whole thing, and Ethan who showed his paintings alongside mine.
On the statement that it’s a “lifestyle choice.”
In the news recently there seems to have been an abundance of ‘conversion therapy’ stories. As a gay person I take huge issue with that entire ideology, and figured I should share why I feel the thought that someone can switch her or his sexuality is preposterous. It’s easy:
If it were a choice, no one would ever choose to be gay.
I’m 22 at the time I’m writing this, and probably since I was 11 years old I’ve known I’m attracted to members of the same sex. Half of my life I’ve dealt with hatred, disapproval, and being innately (even though I mostly love South Park, I feel my generation can largely thank this show for propagating the terminology) stupid, i.e. “that shit’s so gay.” None of this is enjoyable. It wasn’t enjoyable when upon coming out to my parents I was ushered to our priest in hopes that he’d throw brimstone at me until the cock-loving demons were halted from corrupting my mind. The idea behind that visit was to remind me that I’m a walking pile of sin who’s bound for hell, no matter what. Though they came around, at that vulnerable time they were disappointed when I was told hell is not, in fact, the only destination for me.
I have no doubt that anyone given the option of that experience would turn it down. Straight or gay.
Conversion therapy centers exist because gay people are willing to switch their sexuality. Being that it’s very often someone’s family who will urge or force a gay person into such treatment seems to point out an inherent flaw of the system; if your family, who’s ideal aim is to love and support you, says you’re not alright and could lose that love and support, wouldn’t you do exactly then what was necessary to keep it?
Something makes those homos want to change, and it’s all the bullshit gay people get for being attracted to whom they’re attracted to. It’s not that I actually hate being gay, but that I hate being forced to deal with the stigma that accompanies homosexuality. I haven’t even had it hard. I’ve been blessed with helpful and supportive friends throughout my life. Even so, I would gladly trade in this life I’m destined to live as a second-class citizen if all it took were being sexually and romantically attracted to women. But I cannot because developing that attraction isn’t possible, nor will it ever be.
As for what God says, keep arguing over it ad infinitum, ad nauseam, and the outcome will always be inconclusive. I cannot emphasize enough how inconsequential context, which version of the bible is being used, and at what point in time the Gospels were translated from one version of Ancient Greek to another is in deciphering how gay people are viewed by God. I know that I can’t choose my sexuality, and if I’m made by God it makes no sense that my only path be designed to lead directly and unwaveringly to hell.
Gay pride in any public form gets a lot of flak from those invested in “traditional family values” because they see it as a celebration of having dick-on-dick or pussy-on-pussy sex. But sexuality and physical engagement in sexual relations are two different things. Pride among gay people is a necessity because we are overwhelmingly disapproved of. We need pride in order to function in this world. We need to support ourselves and each other because who the fuck else is going to? So many things tell us we’re wrong, sinful, useless, and stupid, how are we supposed to keep moving through life if not by saying “I’m gay, I can’t change that, I will not be ashamed of myself for something I have no control over, and I am proud”? If gay pride didn’t exist it would be pretty damn difficult.
Believe me, being gay isn’t worth the trouble. A homosexual life is not as easy as a heterosexual one. Detraction and negativity are constant and can be absolutely torturous. Social stigma surrounding homosexuality is inseparable from it, and I can guarantee gay people would take extreme, though feasible, measures to eliminate that stigma.
While I may sound like a hardcore self-deprecator or hypocrite, it’s the truth: I’ve dealt with enough negativity about my sexuality that I don’t want to deal with being gay anymore. But the only way to definitively preclude that negativity is by doing the impossible and turning straight. I maintain that no one in her or his right mind would choose to put up with what gay people, in the world as it is, have to put up with.
You can’t choose to be gay, but you have to love yourself.
Even though I hate being gay because of all the shit that comes with it, I love myself and I am gay…so I actually love being gay. Because that’s who I am. Because what the fuck else am I supposed to do? Because I have no obligation to make excuses for how I am. Because everyone is great the way everyone is.
I’d like to come up with something cool about these since I see these images all the time. Excepting reflections, every image is made of only a few colors, and using a limited palette like that is odd for me. Turns out I will be able to make stretchers without access to a school woodshop, so I want to work on some of these larger. Surface is extra important here, since in real life every screen image has the same one.
Painting them like this makes them useless, easily more lost. Global Dislocation System. I think that’s cool.
And, now I have space to paint in my room so things can move smoothly when I’m not too tired from work.
1 pound head-on shrimp.
Behead, shell, and devein these guys. Throw away the poop chutes but save the shells and heads.
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
about 1″ garlic
Chop all these up and saute in vegetable oil. Saute the shrimp bodies until just pinked through, then remove.
Add a pinch of salt, 1 T sugar. Add the heads and shells to the cooking aromatics.
Add a couple inches of lemongrass, and cover with a good amount of water and let this simmer away after skimming the first round of scum.
Rice vermicelli for 2 (soaked to soften in very hot water)
4 quahogs, steamed through,
1 sea bass, filleted and skinned, left raw (or just 2 bass and no clams)
Chopped cilantro and scallions
In 2 bowls, layer vermicelli, thinly sliced clams, thinly sliced and still-raw bass, cooked shrimp, and top with scallions and cilantro. Keep these aside until later.
Cook the broth until it reduces a good amount, tasting for a concentrated, sweet shrimpy flavor. Once you get it, strain out the broth. Add:
1 can coconut milk
Fish (preferred) or oyster sauce, chili paste to taste. Heat the broth ’til it’s bubbling and steaming gently, and pour over the assembled bowls. The heat of the broth will cook the sea bass to succulent perfection.
Shit these pictures are dark. I’ll fix that.
The bulk of what I turned out during my residency at the Hambidge Center. Seriously check this place out. Nothing but time, and as a result of that somewhat lonely, but still all the time I could have wanted to fit into two weeks. Between that and the insanely large studio I had to myself, leaving was difficult, before even considering exactly what I had to return to. Now, though, I know how to be more comfortable working truly on my own and truly for myself, and I know that I need to keep this art thing going.
There was one time I was introduced as “this is Ryan, he’s from New Jersey and he talks funny.” Speech was an issue there in a way that I had never experienced before. I’m used to passively acknowledging accents and varying cadences, but in the South it was a conversation topic. Chose to group these paintings in that way, with a rough phoneticization of “I did” as I tended to hear it among native Southerners.
It was a land of fried chicken.
The tomatoes aren’t as good here.
A red car, of course.
A bear didn’t eat me last night.
The trail was steep, there were mosquitoes, and then I heard coyotes.
Even though I’m not completely attracted to any one of these paintings, I’m attracted to things about them, and couldn’t have asked for a better time to explore myself as an artist. The paintings themselves are largely simple, lacking a lot of the content I was using in work like what my thesis consisted of.
Romanticism, subjugation of the picturesque, and issues about the place of landscape and plein air and observational painting in contemporary art theory is what I have to think more about, using these as a springboard.