McColl Center For Art + Innovation and Charlotte Pride present Open Occupancy: Artists Respond To HB2.

Provoked by recent attacks on LGBTQ rights by North Carolina’s legislature (House Bill 2, or HB2), Charlotte area artists and advocates began a conversation about reclaiming the narrative of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression; from one of fear, bigotry, and public exclusion to one of respect, tolerance, and public inclusion.

This conversation has grown into a series of provocative temporary art installations in seven of the public restrooms here at McColl Center for Art + Innovation. Each restroom features the work of a McColl Center Alumni Artist, inspired by a dialogue with local LGBTQ advocacy groups. Their responses range from the serious to the whimsical, and show that creativity can be a powerful response to prejudice.

Participating Artists, Installations, and Select Partners

2012 Alumna Artist Andrea Vail, along with partner organization CPCC Spectrum Club, takes advantage of a single use restroom at McColl Center to create a space for individual self-expression. Her installation celebrates positive self image with a personal dance party environment: music, streamers, mirrors, disco ball, the works!

2010 Alumnus Artist de’Angelo Dia’s installation, "Alice Guy-Blaché – reduxed," is an examination of the absurdity of the things we have to confront or entertain in life. Whether it be political policy and legislation, political rhetoric, religious ideology, or socialized philosophy, our world continually throws the absurd in our face, ultimately seeking a response. Charlotte Black Gay Pride is his community partner.

2013-2014 Alumnus Artist Jason Watson is fascinated by categories and systems, and how individuals always defy the box they are placed in. His mixed media drawing installation, created in partnership with Charlotte Trans Pride, reinterprets the LGBTQ rainbow flag as an ancient medieval cosmological diagram, beautiful in its complexity but confounding in its attempt to summarize the infinite possibilities of human sexuality and gender.

2014 Alumna Artist Rosalia Torres-Weiner’s art uses electric color and bold design motifs to explore her Latina identity and that of her extended community. For her installation, she collaborates with Orgullo: Charlotte Latin Pride and uses the metaphor of caterpillars transforming into butterflies as a way to tell the personal stories of Latino/a transgender people in the Charlotte area.

2001/2005 Alumnus Artist Tom Thoune grew up along the Southern California coast among simmering pools, beaches, and Disneyland, playing as many imaginary characters, like mermaids, with his siblings. He states that mermaids mirror our androgynous selves. Thoune’s wall reliefs show fantastical creatures, heads wrapped in beach towels to mimic women's hairstyles, oblivious to the shame others may have toward any shade of femininity.

2003 Alumnus Artist Raymond Grubb’s photographs are often subtle, haunting portraits of individuals caught in moments of repose or contemplation. For this exhibition and in response to HB2, he has created images that ask the provocative question: “What might be behind those zippers and under those skirts. What is so scary?”

Materialized in medium referencing the naked and unvarnished, 2001/2012 Alumnus Artist John W. Love, Jr.’s SALT DADDY is a poetic prose work examining the power of unabashed transparency. As Salt Daddy lovingly encourages the transpicuous as the way to power for his transgender baby boy/girl, the sting of the wound of HB2 is turned on its proponents.