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Art exhibit reflects on ownership of self images

This January The University of Toledo Department of Art is hosting an exhibition of the work of guest artist Rowan Renee, a genderqueer artist self-identifying as they.

“No Honor No Heart” will be on display from Monday, Jan. 14, through Thursday, Feb. 14, in the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery on UT’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

“Together but Separate” is part of Rowan Renee’s exhibit titled “No Honor No Heart,” which is on display through Thursday, Feb. 14, in the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery on UT’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

Renee’s work includes images of their nude body that have been reclaimed and altered.

“In 2013, I was in a legal dispute with a former partner and collaborator, a copyright lawyer, over ownership and access to nude images of my own body that we co-authored,” Renee said. “[This] is an installation that reclaims these lost images, asserting the transformative power of artistic labor for experiences of sexual abjection.”

A free lecture will be held Friday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. in the Toledo Museum of Art Little Theater. An opening reception for “No Honor No Heart” will follow from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery.

“I use photography to interrogate how sexual bodies are gendered, victimized, policed and punished,” Renee said. “Through photographic, printmaking and sculptural techniques, I produce and appropriate images that intervene on issues of authorship, the representation of queer and feminine bodies within the art-historical canon, and the intersection of homophobia and misogyny in sex law and copyright law.

“Abjection, as a queer concept and aesthetic framework, informs my manipulation of images. Through jouissance, the hard-won pleasure found in the labor of making, I see a means to construct transformative meaning from experiences of violence, persecution and erasure that threaten queer and feminine subjects.”

Renee currently works between Brooklyn, N.Y., and Ann Arbor, Mich. Their career began as a street artist in 2006, when they joined the Miss Rockaway Armada, a collaborative flotilla of junk rafts founded by the artist Swoon.

In the past, Renee traveled across 10,000 miles of the United States taking tintype portraits of people living off the grid, worked to rebuild a Sandy-flooded bungalow in the Rockaways as a live-work artist space, and founded a small photography business called Brooklyn Tintype.

Recently, they have received awards from the Aaron Siskind Foundation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation and the Anchorage Museum of Art, as well as fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the McColl Center for Visual Art and Ossian Arts at the Jain Family Institute. In 2018, Renee weas named an Elsie Choy Lee Scholar by the University of Michigan.

Their work has been profiled on NPR, in The New York Times, VICE, Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, American Photo Magazine and Guernica, among other publications.

The free, public exhibition can be seen Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information, contact Brian Carpenter, UT lecturer of art and gallery director, at brian.carpenter@utoledo.edu.