Artist's Exhibit to Explore Control of Self Images

Eye On Art  |  01/09/2019 9:00 am

This January the University of Toledo Department of Art will host an exhibition of the work of guest artist Rowan Renee, a genderqueer artist self-identifying as they. Renee’s work includes images of their nude body which have been reclaimed and altered. The work will be on display in the UT Center for the Visual Arts main gallery, next to the Toledo Museum of Art, from January 14 through February 14, 2019. A reception and lecture will be held Friday, February 1. The lecture will be at the Toledo Museum of Art Little Theater at 6 p.m.  The opening reception will follow from 7-8 p.m. These events and the exhibit are free and open to the public.

Regarding the image accompanying this news release, Renee says, “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. [This] is an installation that reclaims these lost images, asserting the transformative power of artistic labor for experiences of sexual abjection.


I use photography to interrogate how sexual bodies are gendered, victimized, policed and punished. 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.


Rowan Renee is a genderqueer artist currently working between Brooklyn, NY and Ann Arbor, Michigan. 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 they have travelled across 10,000 miles of the US 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 they were named an Elsie Choy Lee Scholar by the University of Michigan. Their solo exhibitions include Z at Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation (2015) and Bodies of Wood at The Aperture Foundation (2017) and Saint Joseph's University (2018). Their work has been profiled on NPR, in The New York Times, VICE, Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, American Photo Magazine and Guernica, among many other publications. They are currently planning upcoming solo exhibitions at the Center for Visual Arts: Toledo (2019) and The Anchorage Museum of Art (2020).