Mighty Real/Queer Detroit’s citywide LGBTQ+ art show celebrates Pride


In celebration of Pride Month, a citywide display of LGBTQ+ art is on view for the entire month of June, spanning a nearly a dozen celebrated galleries.

Nonprofit Mighty Real/Queer Detroit (MR/QD)’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror: Reflections of the Contemporary Queer” is the first-ever major biennial of works by LGBTQ+ artists. It opened May 31.

In 2022, MR/QD presented the nation’s largest art exhibition to date featuring works by queer LGBTQ+ artists, with more than 150 artists showing over 700 works across 17 Detroit venues. This year’s return turns it up to more than 170 artists showing over 800 works, and this time the artists include not only Americans but artists from Asia, Latin America and Europe as well.

Participating galleries include Detroit Artists Market, Irwin House, Scarab Club, Anton Art Center, Detroit Contemporary, Galerie Camille, the Carr Center, the Hannan Center, Hatch Art, the College for Creative Studies’ Center Galleries and the Elaine Jacob Gallery.

Beyond the exhibition, MR/QD will host a variety of programming throughout June, from artist talks and panel discussions to poetry readings and live performances. On Thursday, June 6, the organization will present an evening of queer cinema at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Detroit Film Theater, as curated by Adam Baran.

“This show reveals a range of identities and stories from the playful to the political, from the erotic to the domestic,” said MR/QD Creative Director/Curator Patrick Burton. “I would say there’s a focus on art as activism, especially in the times we’re living in. Much of the work that I selected also has a theme of affirming art as a mirror and exploring the mirroring relationship between communities, and achieving personal visibility through arts and social connection through art.

“I tried to utilize my own journey as a young person in Detroit, growing up on the east side, and the importance of finding affirmation that I think we provide to younger LGBTQ+ youth (such as) positive representations, which are so important for a sense of belonging and empowerment. I think growing up queer, you’re not really given a culture; your family, your parents usually aren’t able to provide that kind of information. To understand a group of people, you begin with their culture, and that would be the same for LGBTQ+ folk. We have a culture.”

Burton said he also sees an educational component in the exhibition.

“There’s a war going on right now. LGBTQ+ people, nonbinary people, transgender people – every day, throughout the country, you see laws being enacted and anti-LGBTQ+ bills, and pervasive discrimination and violence, persisting trans murders … it’s just endless. It’s very debilitating. And if you look at statistics, two out of three teen suicides are LGBTQ-related, and one out of three LGBTQ+ people are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

“I think this is not only because there’s an absence of a culture or an affirmation, but also because of the ongoing battle that one faces being queer in the world. So I would hope that this show can uplift the community and even outsiders and non-queer people.”

For more information on “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” which is on display through June 30, visit Mighty Real/Queer Detroit at facebook.com/MRQD2022 and at mrqd.org.

Contact Free Press arts and culture reporter Duante Beddingfield at dbeddingfield@freepress.com.

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