I'm Kenney Mencher. I'm an artist who left a tenured professorship in 2016 to pursue making art full time. This blog is about art, art history, with a emphasis on human rights. I make homoerotic art featuring bears, otters & other gay wildlife.
THE ROBERT GIARD GRANT FOR EMERGING LGBTQ+ PHOTOGRAPHERS:
Courtney Webster & Meg Turner Honored as Winners; riel Sturchio & Bianca Sturchio as Runners-Up; Eight Finalists Recognized
Left: "Patricide," (2016) by Courtney Webster & Meg Turner. Right: "Suntan Lotion," (2018) by riel Sturchio & Bianca Sturchio.
Queer|Art, in partnership with The Robert Giard Foundation, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Robert Giard Grant for Emerging LGBTQ+ Photographers: collaborative duo Courtney Webster & Meg Turner, and runners-up: riel Sturchio & Bianca Sturchio. This year, the winner and the runner-up are each a collaborative duo, with projects focused on community building and engagement.
Courtney Webster and Meg Turner will receive a $10,000 cash grant to support the development of their project, Patricide, which interrogates dominant culture and its reproduction of tropes that reinforce the image of the ideal or heroic body as almost exclusively a white male body. Often centering Webster, a queer person of color, as a heroic and swoon-worthy protagonist, the artists render visible an alternative lexicon wherein the erased and invisible become seen, empowered, and celebrated.
Runners-up Bianca Sturchio and riel Sturchio will receive a $5,000 cash grant to support their collaborative photo-documentary project, Chasing Light, which platforms self-expression and provides visibility to individuals at the intersection of LGBTQ+, non-binary, and chronically ill or disabled identity.
The Robert Giard Grant for Emerging LGBTQ+ Photographers supports and promotes self-taught, early career or otherwise emerging LGBTQ+ artists, awarded on a yearly basis. This support is vital for emerging artists, who may lack the financial resources or institutional support available to more established artists. 187 applications were received for the inaugural award cycle. The 2021 judges included Mariama Attah, Emily Oliveira, Leonard Suryajaya, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Efrem Zelony-Mindell.
“Patricide, the collaborative project by Meg Turner and Courtney Webster, is an exciting reminder of the many voices, perspectives, and experiences within the photography community. The touring exhibition is such a clever and involved way of expanding these dominant narratives.”
—Mariama Attah, 2021 Robert Giard Grant Judge, photography curator, editor, and lecturer
COURTNEY WEBSTER & MEG TURNER, 2021 WINNERS
Courtney Webster is an independent film director, producer, and media accessibility activist who most recently produced the Thank God For Abortion anthem video with the artist Viva Ruiz. Meg Turner employs printmaking, photography, sign making, and installation to focus on queer fantasy and contemporary critique. Her first solo museum show, Here & Now, opened at The Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans in 2019.
Webster and Turner began their collaborative photo practice in New Orleans in 2015. Merging their filmmaking and photography practices, Webster and Turner carefully research, plan and build each shoot collectively. Their series, Patricide, has been exhibited in part at the New York gallery, Wild Project. According to the artists, the series “has always been about questioning dominant narratives in the media and understanding them as the mechanism that deliberately manufactures who is legitimate and entitled to dignity and power. These narratives impact the ways we live, develop our identities, and ultimately figure out how to exist in communities.” The work was accompanied with public street murals and has additionally been documented in the UK Magazine, Heroine. Individual works from the series have also been shown across New York and New Orleans in places including The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Bureau of General Services Queer Division, BRIC Arts, Wallach Gallery, and the University of New Orleans Gallery.
“This funding and recognition will allow us to expand the mediums we use and to open up access to more spaces to share it with the public. As two queer artists, we are so excited to have the support of the Robert Giard Foundation and Queer|Art for this project.”
—Courtney Webster & Meg Turner, 2021 Robert Giard Grant Winners
RIEL STURCHIO & BIANCA STURCHIO, 2021 RUNNERS-UP
Bianca and riel Sturchio are twin collaborators. Bianca Sturchio is a queer and disabled artist who works primarily in paint and collage, and collaborates in the photographic project Chasing Light. She uses her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Southern Maine (2020) to work with underrepresented populations in the Portland, ME area. Bianca pairs her creative and academic backgrounds to advocate for disability justice increase representation for disabled artists. riel Sturchio is a queer interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes analog photography, printmaking, and sound sculpture. Their work often revolves around the body and their experiences with disability and chronic illness. They received an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin (2018).
riel Sturchio says of their ongoing collaborative project, “Chasing Light has allowed Bianca and I to self-direct our visibility, investigate the representation of queer identity and non-normative bodies, and explore the shifting role of image-maker and subject. Our relationship with the work stems directly from our individual and shared experiences with disability, chronic illness, and non-normative queer identity. Now, we wish to turn this lens outward and offer experiences for non-artists and creative individuals who identify at the intersection of LGBTQ+, non-binary, and chronically ill or disabled identity to see themselves through self-directed documentary photographs and the support of guided workshops. We aim to advance social justice through this work by giving others the opportunity to self-direct their narratives.”
2021 Robert Giard Grant Judge Efrem Zelony-Mindell writes, "riel Sturchio, and Bianca Sturchio excite me because they epitomize voices of a previously unseen future. Through these artists the voice and language of photography shifts, becoming more than its white patriarchal history. For me these artists bring narratives from their lived experiences to viewers who would otherwise never know that they existed.”
“This award supports our vision of opening up Chasing Light to other folks at the intersection of non-normativity, disability, and LGBTQ+ identity. We believe there is great power in vulnerability and sharing stories, and feel grateful for the ability to initiate this new expansion.”
—riel Sturchio & Bianca Sturchio 2021 Robert Giard Grant Runners-Up
2021 ROBERT GIARD GRANT FINALISTS
Eight finalists were recognized for the 2021 Robert Giard Grant. From left to right, top row: Michael DeCristo, Lee Laa Guillory, a. r. havel, Ian Lewandowski. From left to right, bottom row: Schaël Marcéus, Sarah Panzer, Coyote Park, and Zhidong Zhang.
In addition to the winners and runners up, eight other visual artists were acknowledged as finalists for this year—Michael DeCristo, Lee Laa Guillory, a. r. havel, Ian Lewandowski, Schaël Marcéus, Sarah Panzer, Coyote Park, and Zhidong Zhang.
You can learn more about each of the finalists and their creative practices at our website.
Robert Giard (1939-2002) was a portrait, landscape, and figure photographer who came to the practice of photography relatively late in life. In 1972 he began to take photographs, concentrating on landscapes of the South Fork of Long Island, portraits of friends, many of them artists and writers in the region, and the nude figure. He is best known for photographing over 500 LGBTQ+ writers and activists. A selection from this project, Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, was published in 1997 by MIT Press and led to a groundbreaking exhibit at the New York Public Library the following year.
In 1985, after seeing a performance of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, as the AIDS crisis raged, Giard decided to turn his camera towards the LGBTQ+ literary community to preserve a record of queer lives and histories. He began documenting LGBTQ+ literary figures, both established and emerging, in a series of unadorned, yet sometimes witty and playful portraits that would eventually number over 500 by the time of his death.
Giard’s work can be found in the collections of The Brooklyn Museum, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, the San Francisco Public Library, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; his complete archive, including work books and ephemera, can be found in the American Collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.
Image credits—1.Patricide, 2016, Courtney Webster & Meg Turner; 2. Suntan Lotion, 2018. riel Sturchio & Bianca Sturchio.3. Slideshow of Images by Courtney Webster & Meg Turner, images courtesy of the artists; 4. Slideshow of Images by riel Sturchio & Bianca Sturchio, image courtesy of the artists; 5. Collage of Images by Finalists, images courtesy of the artists; 6. Robert Giard, 1985. Photo by Toba Tucker, Courtesy The Estate of Robert Giard