What is a queer environment? What does it entail? What does it look like? or what does it even mean to have a queer environment? These are just some of the questions multidisciplinary artist Adrienne Crossman's current work incites. Crossman is thoughtfully immersed with discovering what a queer space or object involves and what it's like to transverse through a society that is heavily set around binaries. Employing familiar pop culture objects like Tiger Electronic’s Furby toys, Crossman re-contextualizes them as queer objects situating the Furby aside from any binary category. Formerly Toronto-based and now living in Winsdor, Crossman recently exhibited new works that centered around these ideas as part of her solo show—Fear of a Queer Planet—at Toronto’s The White House Studio Project. Crossman is a very busy, having already completed four residencies this year alone, she’s also a curator, she's put together a number of exhibitions for Xpace Cultural Centre, made official music videos for the likes of Toronto's Austra and Pale Eyes, created live projection visuals for bands like Alvvays and Lido Pimienta and is currently in the middle of her MFA at the University of Windsor. We were very lucky to get some time with Crossman while we were in Windsor early this summer. We spoke to her among other things, about her trajectory to creating the work she currently creates, how she thinks through the work she makes, and how she's been able to consistently create and show her own work after being out of art school for over four years.
"...furbies are marketed as being these weird alien creatures. They are not really animals or humans, they are not dead but not alive either, they aren’t gendered or representative of any race. To me, they are just queer objects that defy categorization. I began working with their image and became more and more attracted to them. My ideas surrounding these objects are not totally resolved which is what kind of drew me to them to be able to work through those different ideas. To me they are my queer object of choice. I’m just interested in working with them and creating environments that they could inhabit."
Luther Konadu: What were some of your interests you wanted to work on coming into the residency? [The Emerging Art Research Residency at the University of Windsor]
Adrienne Crossman: Last year I was awarded an Emerging Artist grant through the Toronto Arts Council, which is meant to support your practice. Under that grant I was proposing a new body of work that I’m now working on here in Windsor.
Adrienne Crossman: I’m working with 3d modeling, teaching myself how to navigate the programs along with the help of online tutorials. I mostly work digitally so part of my Residency proposal was to start to frame the digital way I work within the physical realm. I didn’t come at the proposal from a concrete direction, more so from a number of different ideas that I’m working through now. The body of work I’m focused on is based around ideas of queerness through the re-contextualization of familiar imagery, including pop cultural and art historical references.
Photo by Katie Huckson
Luther Konadu: Tell me about your collection of creatures [referring to her collection on her desk as we speak].
Adrienne Crossman: These are McDonald's Furbies, full size Furby originals, and Shelbies. I 3D printed one of them and casted two others in aluminum. A lot of the work I do is about searching out and creating queer sensibilities or queer environments with everyday objects or pop culture artifacts. I also find myself going back to nostalgic objects; toys that I had when I was a kid. In the summer of 2015 I started working on a piece for a space-themed exhibition and based my work on the Pioneer Plaque, which is this plaque that NASA sent out to communicate with aliens about what humanity is on earth. The original rendering essentially looks like two able bodied white people; with barely any genitals and they look very conservative and heteronormative. I wanted to queer it and create more of an inclusive rendering. I was then faced with the question of how to actually do that with humans. It’s impossible to draw a representation of people without excluding—you can’t draw a human that looks like every human; no matter what rendering you do it’s going to be exclusive. So then I created ‘Queer Planet,’ which is my take on the original.