Armory Teaching Artist Austyn de Lugo (he/him/él) is an LA-based artist of Puerto Rican and Virgin Islander descent. Austyn is especially interested in queer and feminist theory, horror films, pattern and decoration, and political imagery. He creates with a variety of media, including collage, textiles, painting, and drawing. His works embrace the iconic, the tawdry, the vapid, and the flamboyant, as he investigates diva worship, propaganda, and the use of portraiture in art history and our social and political institutions. You can learn more about Austyn at austyndelugo.com or @AustynShambles.
In honor of Pride Month, we asked Austyn for 5 queer collage artists that inspire him. Austyn's signature Queer Collage Workshops for adults and teens 15+ is enrolling now and starts June 17 on Zoom.
Above: Matt Lipps, from his HORIZON/S collage series (detail). Courtesy of the artists' website.
Suzanne Wright has said that her time working with ACT-UP led her to believe that shock, controversy, and the extreme were the way to challenge views and open possibilities. I think that explanation can apply to any of my favorite queer artists. Suzanne combines naked ladies with space shuttles and colossal landscapes to create collages that explore many aspects of the human experience, including sexuality, power structures, humor, nostalgia, and scientific potential.
When I was in grad school, I used to obsess over Richard Hawkins’ frenetic, gif-filled digital collages, all of which I think were taken down by Instagram for violating their terms and conditions. Richard’s collage and sculptural works juxtapose teen heartthrobs, pornographic images, and art historical references. They speak to the act of looking, and blur the lines of personal and private, tawdry and academic.
I became aware of Rakeem Cunningham's work in 2018, when I saw his exhibition Whew Chile the Ghetto at the TAG Gallery Loft. His work deals with how people of color, queer people, and black queer people especially, deal with times of crisis and political upheaval through fantasy. I love how his work bypasses typical narratives of the suffering of marginalized peoples by imagining fantastical queer alternatives.
Zach Grear’s campy, playful, sexy, and iconic images are a joy to look at. Inspired by the occult, 70s and 80s punk aesthetics, and queer erotica, he draws tattoos onto his figures and questions established (and often exclusionary) beauty ideals.
In his work, Matt Lipps cuts out images to create autonomous paper dolls in three-dimensional compositions that he then rephotographs. These works “call attention to the profound ways in which we relate to notions of ‘the photographic’ as a shared historical artifact, a means of social engagement, and a material object.” Through fairly simple gestures of cutting, recombining, and recontextualizing, Matt’s work makes visible the way we use images to make value judgments and relay information.
We can still come together as a community to celebrate the power of art. If you are in a position to do so, please consider supporting the Armory today. We pledge to continue providing exceptional arts programming for all, while supporting our staff and teaching artists to our fullest ability in the weeks to come. Your tax deductible donation will help safeguard our mission through this crisis and beyond. Thank you.