Arts Writing

No/And: Contemporary Conversations About Queer Art and Trans Art

by Sara Jaffe

Ten or so years ago, I was feeling depressed about the word “queer.” It was everywhere, which was maybe the problem; it had become a catch-all way to communicate “not straight” instead of the barbed claim to an anti-(hetero and homo)normative politics that had so defined my own understanding of my own sexuality. But in the last few years I’ve sensed a resurgence of that old school potency — maybe it has something to do with 90s nostalgia, or younger people’s investment in radical activism, or essential conversations happening around historic discrimination against queers of color and trans people in LGBTQ + movements and spaces. All of which is to say, I think that this is a particularly exciting and generative moment to engage in conversation with several of the queer curators in Portland about the state of queer art in our city and beyond.


This essay was edited by Stephanie Snyder, John and Anne Hauberg Curator and Director, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, and appeared in CONDITIONS, a publication of The Ford Family Foundation. The annual arts journal (shifting title as it progresses) is part of the program element CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS, led by the University of Oregon with partners Portland State University, The Cooley Gallery, Reed College; and PNCA at Willamette University.

The title and concept for CONDITIONS came into focus as the editorial team launched its first issue, FIGURING. Here, we shift from FIGURING’s multiple perspectives on the body and the psyche to examine the cultural and biological mysteries and actualities of life at this tenuous environmental and socio-political moment. As our need for breath and sustenance are foregrounded across an accounting of our shared lives, we hope that CONDITIONS offers a space to meditate on the ways in which works of art (including writing) support us in making meaning from our state of, and provisions for, being. 

Featured Contributors: Amelia Rina, Laura Butler Hughes, Luiza Lukova, Sara Krajewski, Malia Jensen, Lumi Tan, Steph Littlebird, Ido Radon, Alejandro Espinoza Galindo, Stephanie Gervais, Stephanie Snyder, K. Silem Mohammad, Prudence Roberts, Sara Jaffe.