The Highest Closet
September 22 – October 18, 2014
Sarah Hill, I'm Fine, 2011-2014, Performance (Image credit: Patrick Dubé)
Sarah Hill, Creighton Baxter and Bug Davidson, Surgery, 2012/2013, SD cideo still
Hayley Morgenstern, Let Her Have Cake and eat it too (Image credit: Sarah Hill), 2013, HD video still
Jessica Borusky, The Posture Grid!, 2013, Video Still
Sarah Hill and Hayley Morgenstern, F to, 2013/2014, HD video still
Hayley Morgenstern and Creighton Baxter, It Might Get Better, 2012, Performance (Image credit: Genesis Báez)
Sarah Hill, Theirs and Theirs Towels, Hand embroidered towels
Creighton Baxter and Bobby Andres, XOXO, 2012, Performance (Image credit: Bryan Rodriguez)
The Highest Closet is more than a collective, it is a reconstructed queer family creating work with, through and for one another. The exhibition features works by Creighton Baxter, Sarah Hill, Hayley Morgenstern and Jessica Borusky. They connect through a sense of kinship, a focus on research, and a shared dedication to collaboration that comes together in a transdisciplinary collection of works currently on view in Montserrat’s 301 Gallery.
Embedded within the individual practices of Baxter, Hill, Morgenstern and Borusky are themes of the gender-queer lived experience, processing trauma, survivorhood and a queer cultural lineage. The artists address experiences that are often deemed unspeakable, honoring the weight and intensity that these challenging topics deserve. According to Morgenstern, “a large part of being a queer artist is creating safe and productive spaces for other queer art.” She continues: “Growing up queer can be an alienating experience, and The Highest Closet both embraces and relishes in that alienation as a common experience that can bring people together.”
The artists incorporate various other languages into their work. Morgenstern’s EAT THAT! Poison Apple reengineers classic fairy tale tropes into a feminist refusal to be saved, rejecting participation in the heteronormative economy of “saving.” The persona of Borusky’s The Posture Grid! seems to have fallen out of an infomercial, engaging with how products are meant and designed to help (or control) the body. Hill and Morgenstern’s F to queers references of historically hetero-normative literature, while Baxter incorporates poetry as statements for her Untitled/Tidal Wrestling series.
While the artists communicate individual perspectives through performances, drawings, and video, there is an overlap and connectivity that occurs between their works both behind and within the scenes the viewer witnesses. “While we all have our own ways of approaching art making and performance,” Morgenstern goes on, “we all share a common concern over repetition. The repetitions of performances such as motifs, props, and costumes engage both the continuous work of coming to terms with trauma as well as coming out.” Familiar wigs find their way into It Might Get Better, F To and Surgery, for example, while Borusky’s grid frames Baxter’s Ring Around Rogue Bottom GIF performance.
Even when the reference is not overt, an essence of each member exists in the screens and surfaces of all the works on view. As best described by Baxter, “...in a sense, we haunt each other’s work; appearing in glimpses and echoes of one another’s projects. I see this as a very blessed queer haunting to be a part of, to rattle and spook each other, to grow.”
Creighton Baxter’s transdisciplinary practice crosses various material engagements with foregrounded emphases in performance and drawing. Since 2010 her ongoing collaborative and individual works have spoken back to sociocultural realities of sexualized violence, normativity and transphobia. Her works have been featured on Rhizome and The New Inquiry and exhibited at Boston University, Grace Exhibition Space and Villa Victoria among others. Baxter currently lives and works in San Francisco.
Jessica Borusky is an artist/educator/curator currently living and working in Kansas City, MO. Drawing from theatrical absurdist tragicomedy, stigmatization theory, performance and queer theory, linguistics and U.S. history, Jessica creates personas through performative actions which showcase these topics, while uncovering cathartic personal narrative and trauma. She received her B.A. from New College of Florida and her M.F.A from Tufts/School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She is currently a resident at the Charlotte St. Foundation in Kansas City.
Sarah Hill recently moved to Austin, Texas. They had their first international solo show at Le Lieu, Center en art Acuel, Canada. They have performed at the following places, International Performance Platform Festival in Lublin, Poland at Gallery Labirynt. And at Performatorium 2014: Festival of Queer Performance Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Sarah received their MFA from the Museum School in partnership with Tufts University, Boston. They have studied with Black Market International at the Festival of live Art in Glasgow, Scotland. They have performed at Mobius, Proof Gallery and Anthony Greaney in Boston, Grace Exhibition Space in New York, and at little berlin in Philadelphia. They have screened videos in Melbourne Australia, Scotland, Canada, Miami and New York. Sarah has worked on projects with William Pope. L (Cusp) and Roderick Buchanan (Swim).
Hayley Morgenstern received her BFA from The School of The Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with Tufts University. Her interdisciplinary performance practice crosses through fields of intellectual and creative discourses; including queer theory, trauma theory, performance studies and art history. Morgenstern’s photography and performance work has been shown nationally and internationally, including performances at Anthony Greaney (Boston), Lumen Festival (NYC), Out of Site Performance Festival (Chicago) and Golden Thread Gallery (Belfast). She has shown videos at Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival (Chicago) and Gran Canaria Espacio Digita (Canary Islands). She currently lives in Austin, Texas and is a dual degree student at The University of Texas working on her Masters degrees in Information Science and Women and Gender Studies.
more work in this exhibit