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Queerlective aims to build a new kind of creative community in New Hampshire

A group of artists gather at a table at To Share Brewery in Manchester for Queerlective's Wall Art Hang Party. A large mural spanning the length of a wall sits behind them.
Olivia Richardson
About 40 people showed up to Queerlective’s recent art hanging party at To Share Brewing in Manchester. That included Eoin O'Brien, Hannah Rowell-Jore, Christine Hoffman, Thomas Hoffman and Tamara Morris, pictured here.

Randall Nielsen is a multimedia artist from Manchester who creates sculptures with emerging technologies, like 3D printing.

And he’s a pretty busy guy. A few months ago, Nielsen was hosting an art show at a local brewery when the staff reminded him that he agreed to host another show there this spring.

“To be honest, I’m a little lazy and I didn't want to hang up all of those pieces," Nielsen said. "And so I was like ‘What if I have people come in and hang up all of those pieces themselves?’”

That turned out to be a great way to build the kind of community Nielsen's been trying to foster with his new group, Queerlective. He co-founded the organization after Pride Month last June as a way to promote an inclusive environment for artists of color, the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups in New Hampshire.

Randall Nielsen, co-founder of Queerlective, holds a mic and talks to the crowd about the upcoming events the group is putting on throughout the year. A tan guitar case is behind Nielsen, with a wooden stool that has been autographed by various artists sits to his left. In the background -- To Share Brewery's bar to the left and to the right a ramp and wheelchair accessible entrance.
Olivia Richardson
“What I really feel like we’re doing is cultivating a community here,” said Randall Nielsen, who helped to organize Queerlective. The group also hosts Queer Dungeons and Dragons sessions, a book club and grant-writing workshops, in addition to other arts-focused events.

About 40 people showed up to Queerlective’s recent art hanging party at To Share Brewing. The event also featured a performance by Brian Walker, whose stage name is A Day Without Love.

Some of the artists at the event have previous experience at gallery showings, but others are new to the scene.

Atlas Wooster stands by his art using blue acrylic paint and green foliage to represent his triumphs with depression and art.
Olivia Richardson
Atlas Wooster's art uses blue acrylic paint and green foliage to represent his triumphs with depression and art.

It was only Christine Hoffman's second time in a gallery showing in Manchester, though she's been making art for years. Hoffman, who is also based in Manchester, specializes in a technique called pyrography where she burns artwork onto wood.

“This is really exciting for me to get to show in an awesome community environment,” Hoffman said. “I’m really about art belonging in the community and not in rarified spaces. Art is for everybody.”

Atlas Wooster also brought his paintings to the Queerlective event. His acrylic, 3D, mixed media art shows the triumphs of finding a personal self and the creative self while dealing with depression. Wooster said the gallery event was a first for him.

“It's always something that's been in the back of my mind and something that I've wanted to do," he said. "But I've never had the vehicle in which to go about doing it, or the crowd to access, that I know that would reach a specific audience that could resonate with my art.”

Nielsen, who helped to launch Queerlective, said he hopes the group can provide a platform for artists who might otherwise struggle to get support. He said it can be hard for artists who work in new mediums like 3D printing or mixed media, as opposed to those who do more traditional styles like oil painting, to show off their work in local galleries.

Emily Roy poses beside two pine framed art pieces she hung at the Queerlective Wall Art Hang party, the top is an intaglio self portrait print and the other a print of a spotted turtle.
Olivia Richardson
Emily Roy, a junior at Plymouth State University, showcases several works of art. One is an intaglio print, a self portrait called "Decompressing Self." She etched the design into plexiglass, inked the glass and ran the print through a press. Another print shows a spotted turtle, which is a threatened species in New Hampshire.

The organizers of Queerlective spend a lot of time working to make sure artists of color and other marginalized groups are well-seen and well-funded. They recently hosted a grant writing workshop to help entrepreneurs get financial support for some of their projects.

“What I really feel like we’re doing is cultivating a community here,” Nielsen said. “I mean you can walk into any of our events and see that people are excited to be together. It really feels great to build this community utilizing art that’s bringing together the queer, BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of color] and other underserved communities.”

Pam King wears a white sweater makes different wreaths depending on season and holiday. Here they showcase a Halloween wreath as it's one of their favorite holidays - the wreath is almost entirely black roses and leaves. It has eyeballs, hands, and bits of red petals and gold enmeshed.jpg
Olivia Richardson
Pam King makes different wreaths depending on the season and holiday. Here, they showcase a design for Halloween, one of their favorite holidays.

Events like the one at To Share Brewing are just the start. The collective has broader strokes in mind when it comes to the creative community they're trying to build.

They’re organizing Queer Dungeons and Dragon sessions, and they have a book club. Currently, they’re reading “A Marvelous Light” by Freya Marske — a historical fiction mystery book about a gay man who discovers magic in Edwardian England.

Later this year, they're planning a queer art extravaganza and other events for Pride month. They're also hoping to organize spaces where women, people of color and other communities can gather to make art together. Nielsen said it’s important for different marginalized groups to be seen on their own individual accord.

It’s a lot of work. Nielsen said it’s like a second full-time job, though the response has been really positive.

“We're always really open to listening to the community,” Nielsen said. “It's really nice that people feel comfortable to come to us with their ideas or suggestions and know that they will be heard, and we'll do whatever we can to fulfill that.”

Ultimately, Queerlective wants to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate in art, and get their work seen and heard.

Olivia joins us from WLVR/Lehigh Valley Public Media, where she covered the Easton area in eastern Pennsylvania. She has also reported for WUWM in Milwaukee and WBEZ in Chicago.
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