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October: Kristen Lyle

with Tobi C. and Alex Bergman

Artist Kristen Lyle of St. Louis, MO presented Playground Stories and Outside the Sandbox. This project began as a desire to create an environment through video. For many trans, non-binary, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people, thoughts about gender are a constant part of their day-to-day life. The environment the artist wished to create with these videos was one where this often internal or private dialogue about gender identity, gender presentation, and gender perception was externalized and inescapable to the viewer.

From Lyle: “Gendered thinking and unconscious bias affects everyone, but particularly trans and gender non-conforming people, for whom thoughts about gender are a daily constant. My videos externalize thoughts about gender identity, presentation, and perception as discussed by trans, cis, queer, and straight folks. I encourage viewers to consider how unquestioned, internalized ideas about gender affect our perceptions of ourselves and each other.”

Playground Stories

Outside the Sandbox

Featured artist Tobi C.: Dissonance

Tobi C. is a white genderqueer artist living in Columbia, MO. They are self taught, and received a BA in Structural Violence and Gender Studies from Metropolitan State University Denver. Most recently, Tobi C. completed a term at Columbia’s Resident Arts, was exhibited at Sager Braudis Gallery and the St. Louis Artists Guild.

Dissonance: Queerness, Chronic Pain and Invisible Illness is an immersive multimedia experience produced in collaboration with sound artist Luke Cormier, which challenges assumptions and constructions of gender, ability, suffering and sexuality. Portraits rendered in finger blended oil pastel, ink and acrylic are accompanied by audio collages which translate the unseen internality of the subject to the viewer.

From Tobi C.: Dissonance emerged out of my experience living as a queer person with invisible illness and chronic pain. I often feel I have to hide my pain and my gender so as not to make myself vulnerable to others perceptions of what pain, illness, or queerness looks or acts like. I have created this artistic environment to challenge the able gaze while celebrating and centering queer bodies in their complexity and beauty.

I have the ability and the privilege to perform wellness, passing as fully able bodied while internally suffering from silent sometimes severe pain that no one else is aware of. This “backdrop” of pain plays loudly inside my head and throughout my body as a type of harsh ambiance that only I can hear.

The audio components, created by myself and sound collaborator Luke Cormier, are symbolic representations of these “backdrops” of pain. They make the invisible audible with the intention of altering the perception of the viewer. Each composition was produced using both metaphors for painful sensations, such as a rope being pulled to snapping, voice, as well as medical devices used to treat or diagnose. Each recording is unique to the portrait they accompany and based on descriptions given by the subject.

Featured Artist Alex Bergman

Alex Bergman received their BA in studio art from Columbia College in 2019 with a minor in art education. Bergman works primarily and three-dimensional media including fibers, alternative photography, and functional ceramics. Bergman’s art has been exhibited in solo and group shows across the Midwest, including a solo show at the Sidney Larson Gallery (Columbia, MO) in 2019.

Alex Bergman seeks to challenge the public’s tendency to sort objects with symbolic value—represented in Bergman’s work by traditionally gendered clothing—into male and female categories. Sometimes altered in order to subvert their use, and sometimes altered in order to highlight their use, Bergman’s garments examine gender in American culture as it pertains to identity, presentation, sex, labor, and community.

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