Town Crier: Queer Storytelling
Dara Haskins, Johannah Herr, Patricia Renee' Thomas
October 22, 2021 - January 8, 2022
Gaa Gallery Cologne
Gaa Gallery is pleased to present Town Crier: Queer Storytelling, a group exhibition featuring Dara Haskins, Johannah Herr, and Patricia Renee’ Thomas. This exhibition curated by Autumn Wallace on the occasion of Wallace’s solo exhibition, Ode to the Mercury Thermometer will run through Saturday, January 8, 2022.
Town Crier: Queer Storytelling is an arrangement of three queer American femme artists crafting their own unique forms of storytelling. Originating with the medieval English practice of reading off local news and “posting a notice” on the door of a local inn, town criers were the mouthpiece between the happenings of their community and the broader public. As these public service announcements often pertained to breaking news, town criers occupied a unique role in that they were protected by the authority for whom they were a mouthpiece.
Drawing parallels and contrasts to the role of town criers and queer communities, this exhibition highlights and underscores queer storytelling and transformative narratives, as these artists bring to light aspects of life that are often suppressed or overlooked. Viewed through the role of the town crier, queer voices are placed from the periphery into the center becoming vocal agents and catalyzing social change. Seeing the faults in civilization so clearly from the edges, art is a way queer voices can be seen and heard loud and clear with a truth that words had not afforded them. Taking this labor of communication and transforming it into art enables Haskins, Herr, and Thomas to convey narratives and experiences that emerge and move away from the contested body.
Through their recordings and renderings of lived experiences, they use their chosen mediums to bear witness and carry stories trapped in transience. Dara Haskins’ work recalls Symbolist movement painters such as Henry Rousseau, where her forms and subject matter both exhibit and record moments in time. Witnessing encounters, looks, feelings- internal and physical, Haskins captures experiences that are too delicate to be told in words. In contrast, Patricia Renee’ Thomas’ work represents utopic experience. The “Sunbathers” are part of an ongoing series of paintings of Black femme girlhood and the experience of existing and benefitting from nature, exposing oneself to the elements and the gaze of others without self consciousness or threat. Johannah Herr queers the storytelling experience by presenting a facade of palatability with her color use and design, transforming urgent and pressing truths into labor intensive machine tufted works inspired by Afghan War rugs, that weave truths into symbols. Symbols that indicate sites and incidents within America’s most recent domestic wars, the war on drugs and the war on immigration.