By Gregory Hatch
Fairy Rings of the Mid-West
A socially engaged project where I engage with LGBTQA groups to create queer space and markers of queer presence. Toadstools are constructed out of a material that has an industrial history with the community I partner with and are displayed in a public area, with an event that focuses on revitalization for the area. This project aims to give participants a creative voice, connect the past and present, and give a physical, though temporal, monument to LGBTQA presence.
Through the projects I have had the chance to work and talk with an amazing group of individuals. It has been interesting to see the small regional difference thus far and how different types of organizations function within the LGBTQA community. As much as the mushrooms are a physical marker of space they are also a means of mediation where I am provided the opportunity to hear small parts of people’s stories.
Partnering with the Kalamazoo Resource Center’s Youth Group we created toadstools using post-consumer paper. Kalamazoo used to be an industry leader in the production of paper products and the environmental consequences of the industry are still seen today. The works were displayed in the neighboring city of Portage at a park named Celery Flats. Celery Flats is built on the history of another of the area’s past industries, celery.
Fairy Ring- Flint
Partnering with the Genesee County PFLAG I attended Flint, MI Pride festival. I set up a booth with the constructed mushrooms and talked to participants about the project. I welcomed individuals to write their message on the mushrooms with provided markers in assorted colors. The mushrooms were then displayed at Free City, a public event put on by the Flint Public Art Project. Each year they put on this free event at the former location of a Chevy factory. As the mushrooms were exposed to the elements the wire armature bled rust onto the tissue paper combining with the messages of the Flint Pride participants.