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The Importance of Art

Chris Murchison

The 1991 St. Lawrence Festival of the Arts, formerly the David B. Steinman Festival, is scheduled for April 2nd to April 13th. The festival will focus on art by and about gay men, lesbians and bisexuals through a veriety of mediums such as theatre, literature, poetry, visual arts, dance, music and comedy.

"Art does save lives. Art helps us keep going. Art helps us love, it helps us connect, it helps us understand ourselves. And we have to be able to do all that in order to build a future where we are not split apart in ourselves or from each other", said Minnie Bruce Pratt, poet, essayist, teacher, mother, lesbian in "Gay Community News", 1990.

Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals are continually discovering the centrality of art to indivisual empowerment and community-building. "We are everywhere", the popular slogan of the reality that there are larger numbers of homosexuals and that no single cultural experience represents what it means to be homosexual or bisexual. The St. Lawrence Festival of the Arts helps build community while it challenges conventional standards and interpretations of aesthetics.

Art deemed homoerotic clashes with "community standards" opposed to the existence and expression of same-sex desire. Recent discussions in Congraess and the media regarding the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) have focussed on funding "obscene art", with the definition of obscene including homoeroticism. Resistance by activists to such pressures supports a wide array of artistic expression by providing reinforcement for those who struggle to expand the boundaries of acceptable sexuality.

Through work by and about gay, lesbian and bisexual artists, we raise a number of important questions concerning the conceptualization, production and reception of art: How is one's art connected to one's identity? Is this expression different for homosexuals than heterosexuals? How do lesbian, gay or bisexual artists define their art? Is there a gay, lesbian or bisexuals aesthetic?

These questions are raised to bring us together, to help us make another connection between identity and art. For art does help us, and most importantly connect us.

— The Hill News, 07.12.1990

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