Velvetpark's Top 25 Queer Women of 2015
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With so many problems and policies demanding so much of our attention and outrage, Linda Capato chooses to focus on the environment through her work as the Fracking Campaign Coordinator at 350.org in San Francisco. The Keystone XL pipeline building, the New York fracking bans, and the Line 9 pipeline expansion are a few of the pressing issues that have come across her desk in the past few years. Capato and company have led the charge for climate justice on all our behalf and, often, been successful. And, as if that weren't enough street cred, she was also in an all-girl rap group in college.
11. “Cosmic Nuwaubian Princess” – Juliana Huxtable, performance artist
Described by VICE magazine as “a transgender DJ, multi-media artist, and nightlife ‘it’ girl,” Juliana Huxtable’s rise in the New York art scene was cemented in November when her two-night MOMA show sold out so fast that a third night was hastily added. She is a member of the House of LaDosha (a queer arts collective), the co-founder of a weekly queer party called #ShockvalueNYC, and has recently caught the admiring eye of Vogue magazine, among others. Noted for its gorgeously lush, regal, and futuristic aesthetic, Huxtable’s work explores the intersectionality of being a queer and trans person of color through poetry, photography, and performance art. At the heart of her work (and her house-chosen last name) lies what she terms “a wounded attachment to the fantasies of a black American aristocracy.” The Huxtable family (from The Cosby Show), she explains, “represented a very specific and powerful moment that I was raised in the spirit of… My name is my armor and it’s an agency to create myself in the image I see fit.”
12. "Art in Action" – Rachel Levitsky, poet / professor / publisher
Rachel Levitsky represents the trifecta of our top 25 in that her work and career intersect the arts, activism and academia. Rachel came of age as a activist during the AIDS crisis, participating in the rough and tumble actions of ACT UP in the 90s. She later found her voice as a poet and has published numerous works of prose and poetry. Rachel serves as one of the founding faculty (along with Christan Hawkey) of Pratt Institute's new MFA in creative writing. The program, which completed its first full school cycle this year, is particularly important in that it takes a multidisciplinary and experimental approach to the written word along with a focus on social justice and engagement. Rachel is also the founding member of Belladonna* a feminist avant-garde non-hierarchical collective dedicated to publishing and promoting the works of adventurous women writers.
13. "Unsuspecting Genius" – Nicole Eisenman, artist
Nicole Eisenman has been bringing queer visibility into mainstream art for decades. Her figurative allegories weave together pop culture, art history, gender and sexuality in provocative and myth-like detail. Esienman is represented by galleries in Los Angeles, New York, and Berlin and her works are collected by major museums around the globe including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Kunsthalle in Zurich. She has been the recipient of the Guggenheim and Tiffany Grants and this year Esienman she was surprised with one of the most coveted prizes, the MacAuthur "Genius Grant". The MacAurther Foundation cites Eisenman's role in art as "[restoring] the representation of the human form a cultural significance that had waned during the ascendancy of abstraction in the twentieth century." (photo. MacAurthur Foundation)
14. “The Real Face of the Revolution” – Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, activist
In a year where we saw yet another mainstream, whitewashed movie about Stonewall in which trans women are woefully underrepresented, it is especially important to recognize the last living trans woman who was actually at the Stonewall riots. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (more commonly known as Miss Major or to many in the trans community, simply “Mama”) is a formerly incarcerated black transgender elder and activist who has been fighting for the rights of trans women of color for over forty years. A long-time advocate as well for people with HIV/AIDS and incarcerated POCs, until late this year, she also served as the director of the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) for over a decade. 2015 saw the release of "MAJOR!", a documentary about Miss Major’s life and work, which if you’re lucky, you can catch this year at a film festival near you.
15. "High-wire Activist" – Jenny Romaine, performer / activist