What does the word identity even mean? Is it our most public self or our most private? Is it defined by others, inherited, or self-made? Can I have more than one? What happens when I start to become close to someone else? How do I respect another’s identity? How do I share my own? Identity is undeniably connected to intimacy, the act of sharing one’s self with someone else. Feeling acknowledged by others, on any scale, can feel vulnerable, bizarre or embarrassing at times. The queer identified artists in HICKEY acknowledge these feelings and have learned how to physicalize aspects of themselves through their work. Be it the correct pronoun, a whispered secret, or a deafening protest, there is power in presenting oneself to the world and feeling the sting of eyes watching. These artists return the gaze.
Hickey
Little Berlin Gallery Philadelphia, PA  June-July 2018
Max Adrian, Kyle Vu-Dunn, Stephen Grebinski,
Paul Peng, Curtis Welteroth, Justin Woody

Curated by Fred Blauth and Eric Anthony Berdis

Curatorial Statement:
Stephen Grebinski’s
drawings remind me of what it’s like to return to my own childhood bedroom. Pinned and taped to the walls of the gallery as if by a moody teenager, they cause me to feel the twinges of embarrassment that come with nostalgia. At one point I replaced an Aaron Carter poster above my bed with handwritten lyrics by The Used. Why is it so important to us to package and display ourselves so literally? “This is me!” Who is that for? Sourced from old Sears catalogs and 70s design magazines, the rooms Grebinski crudely traces feel both personal and impersonal at the same time. You won’t find a single family photo or favorite record, but a ruffled 16th century bed canopy still says a lot about a person. His lines reveal a tenderness in how they start and stop, wobbly in places and more confident in others. Can you tell which rooms were originally decorated for a man? A woman? A family? Dream homes turned haunted houses, Grebinski’s work points to the veil of dust that gathers over not just objects in spaces but the people who inhabit them too. Wiped clean by obliterating details and leaving only coloring page linework, we are left to wonder ourselves what to trash and what to preserve. -Fred Blauth, Curator


Photographs by Rebekah Flake