“Religion and queer identity are often perceived as mutually exclusive,” Hannah Liddell, the curator of Disparate Threads, states on a plaque at the beginning of the art exhibit. It goes on to say, “In reality, these two things are often experienced as coexisting aspects of a meaningful life.” As implied by the name, the exhibit is focused on the idea of how different threads can come together to weave a beautiful tapestry.
Colorful streamers hang from the ceiling of the exhibit, and several picture frames situated around the room are similarly filled with threads. Overlaying those threads are quotes from queer people of faith detailing their experiences. One quote states, “It all started at the moment when it was okay for me to be me.”
In the center of the room is an interactive art display in which participants are invited to take a thread from a basket as a representation of themselves and tie it onto a cage. On the first day of the exhibit, threads already hang from every available space.
Furthermore, the art display invites one to take a deep breath after they have finished tying on their thread. That combined with the relaxing music filling the room leaves a sense of peace and comfort.
This message of inclusion is a vital one for college students who have reached such a tumultuous point in their lives. Regardless of whether one is of queer identity or not, religious or not, there are many influences on an individual’s life that can culminate into mental stress and fatigue. It is at these times when it is most important to remember the simple metaphor which Disparate Threads expresses.
A survey done by the Trevor Project in 2021 found that 42% of LGBTQ+ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year. And another survey done by the Born This Way Foundation and the Mary Christie Institute in 2022 found that two-thirds of college students had faced a recent mental health challenge.
Statistics like this show that challenges surrounding identity are extremely common, especially in college, and Disparate Threads works as a way to expose that fact. As part of the exhibit, not only does it offer one the opportunity to experience other people’s stories but it also offers people an opportunity to participate by sharing their story through a QR code at the beginning of the exhibit.
The installation invites everyone to be more accepting, especially of themselves. Disparate Threads can represent a community or the multiple facets of an individual. Whichever it is, it is important to remember that only by weaving them together can harmony be found.
Disparate Threads can be found on the fourth floor of the Gunther Technology building. It will be available from Sep. 14 to Oct. 6. There will be a public reception on Oct. 6 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.