The Queer & Now: The Queer Spectra Arts Festival Returns


Poster for the Queer Spectra Arts Festival 2021: The Queer and Now. (Courtesy Queer Spectra Arts Festival)

By Heather Graham, Assistant Copy Chief, Arts Writer


The third annual Queer Spectra Arts Festival, held May 22-23, 2021, is welcoming 43 LGBTQ+ artists from 13 different countries to showcase their work in a virtual celebration. This year’s theme “The Queer & Now” invited artists to explore the ideas of queer space and time through a variety of multidisciplinary work including dance, photography, sculptures, paintings, zines, films and more. 

The Festival’s Roots

The festival, started by dancer Dat Nguyen along with fellow dancer Emma Sargent and University of Utah graduates Max Barnewitz and Aileen Norris, intends to bring together queer-identifying artists from various disciplines and cultivate safe spaces for LGBTQ+ artists to engage in conversations about art and identity. Artists from many backgrounds share their work as a part of the festival, including those with and without formal training, providing a platform for young artists who are traditionally less privileged in access to arts and academia. 

The festival’s audience will be able to take part at the event in several ways, including interacting with virtual gallery space and live-streamed performances. Zoom-based workshops and artist-led panel discussions are a conduit of the festival’s mission to create space and conversation and include the Body Curiosity workshop, Tales of Magiclandia workshop, Queer Futures panel and Slumber Party! panel.

Notably, the Slumber Party panel pays homage to the bedroom as a uniquely queer space, one that became critical to art-making as numerous artists had to create their dances, photographs, paintings and more in their bedrooms during the global pandemic. A unique and new panel at the festival, the intention was to foster a real and informal conversation about art in intimate spaces. 

New Year, Still Queer

The festival’s keynote speaker is the award-winning Timothy White Eagle, a University of Utah alumnus with a BFA in Theater.  With decades of artistic exploration, he creates art in mediums including objects, photography, performance and installed space. Other artists featured in this year’s festival include visual activist Andrés Juárez Troncoso; fashion designer and collage artist Parviz Abdullayev; Irish YouTuber, comedian and musician Neil Farrell; movement deviser, improviser and performer Amanda Maraist; BYU contemporary dance major Joey Anderson; oil painter Nataly, SLC printmaker and designer Margot Apricot; and many other artists that represent a vast variety of intersectional identities and styles. 

“The Queer & Now” Queer Spectra Arts Festival is a unique and inspirational space to explore the intersections of art and identity and celebrate the diverse experiences of queerness. It offers an inclusive platform for LGBTQ+ creators to share and discuss while dismissing the boundaries and barriers often imposed upon art, academia, and identity and centering, “a diverse array of voices, backgrounds, experiences, cultures, mediums, and artistic disciplines in order to celebrate queer artistic expressions.”

The Queer Spectra Arts Festival is free to attend but the organizers encourage attendees to make a donation of $5-10 to cover production costs and support LGBTQ+ artists. Audiences can find the full festival schedule, gallery and artist statements and profiles on their website.


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