Contributed by N.C. Maritime Museums
Port cities have always been a melting pot, but not all of the diverse voices found in them have been given a platform.
Staff at the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport hope a new exhibit is a step toward changing that.
“We believe that all people have a story to share and deserve to be represented within the museum,” Education Curator Katy Menne said.
Menne and other staff at the museum collaborated with the Frank Harr Foundation to identify members of the LGBTQIA+ communities whose art also intersects with the maritime community.
Following a community campaign, five artists were selected to share their connections with the water. “How Does the Water Speak to You?,” the temporary art exhibit that featuring that work, will be on display June 16 to Sept. 7 in the museum gallery.
Work was not limited to a particular medium, and objects in the exhibit include watercolor and acrylic paintings, as well as digital and found object artworks. But they share a common connection: art with a maritime connection created by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual/aromantic/ally and other terms yet to be identified communities.
The exhibit is part of a concerted effort to provide a platform for members of historically marginalized communities.
“We had been talking about including different identities in different exhibits and programs,” Menne said. “The art show allowed us to see and hear from diverse communities, another step in showing we’re including all people in the museum.”
The Frank Harr Foundation, an LGBTQIA education and outreach organization based in Wilmington, helped identify the artists in the community whose work had ties to the water.
Featured artists, their works and media include Alexander Brooks, “Entangled,” watercolor; Robin Douglass, “Sailboats & Buoys,” driftwood, cloth and cork; Achilles Hack, “Patroclus and Achilles,” digital; Campbell Idol, “Hidden Identity,” acrylic; Hannah Marley, “Small Treasure,” glass and found objects.
Brooks, who studied fine arts and scene painting at North Carolina School of the Arts and Appalachian State University, said in his artist bio that he has often found his art tends towards a more illustrative and whimsical feel, even when the themes present may be dark.
“To me, art is about exploring the human condition, the ways our minds work,” he wrote. “Sometimes it’s the sheer enormity of a child’s imagination while at play; sometimes, it’s the damage that’s inflicted by others, our environments and ourselves.”
That sort of emotion is the driving force behind the exhibit, Menne said. She explained that maritime history and culture is felt, not just read. By tapping into the breadth of experiences tied to our shores and our coast, she said, everybody can see themselves in the museum.
“We’re always looking for more diverse voices, both historic and contemporary,” Menne said. “That way, everybody is welcome, everybody is learning.”
For more information, call 910-477-5151 or visit ncmaritimemuseumsouthport.com.