Cindi Lagoudakis stands next to a two-foot tall rainbow-colored weaving. The piece has shells and carved stones hanging from its center.
Cindi Lagoudakis stands next to “Beach Finds,” which Petersburg weaver Suzanne Smith submitted to the Pride Art show. (Photo by Shelby Herbert/KFSK)

Petersburg’s Clausen Memorial Museum closed out Pride month with a temporary art show honoring diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. KFSK’s Shelby Herbert has the story on the exhibit and what Pride means to the people who helped put it together.

Paintings, weavings, and an altered wedding dress are just a few of the things on display for the temporary art show at the Clausen Memorial Museum. Cindi Lagoudakis is the museum’s director, and she helped put the exhibit together. She said it’s getting a lot of traffic. 

“We’ve had a lot of people through and we’ve had some nice comments about it,” said Lagoudakis. “Then we’ve had families with children come through, which has really been kind of fun.”

Suzanne Fuqua is one of the artists featured in the show. Her painting, titled: “Embryonic Journey” is the first thing you see when you step up to the exhibit — it’s also one of the largest pieces on display. It’s a huge rainbow awash with nature motifs — a sun, a raven, and a dozen eggs. Fuqua pointed out the symbols she painted across its surface.  

“It’s very symbolic,” said Fuqua. “I looked up one of the first symbols for Pride month and I painted that in there as well. So basically for me, we are who we are. People are who they are. Let people love who they want to love.”

Chelsea Tremblay is another artist whose work is on display — a piece titled: “What/Who.” It’s a collage assembled from pictures of different body parts. 

“It sounds macabre,” said Tremblay. “So, [I took apart] apart eyes and lips and legs — I created a garden using different nature scapes from calendars. And then I had two hands holding the picture of one of our recent ultrasounds of our baby’s head.”

Tremblay was talking about an ultrasound of her own unborn child. She said the work was inspired by her experience of being very visibly pregnant. Tremblay is in her third trimester of pregnancy, and she works a public-facing job selling books at Sing Lee Alley Bookstore. She says a lot of visitors ask her if she’s having a boy or a girl. Tremblay says that she and her partner do know the sex of their baby, but they’re not telling people.

“And a large part of that is from a sociology class, where they talked about [how] people are likely to ascribe gendered characteristics to this future person who hasn’t seen the sky,” said Tremblay. “They’ll look at an ultrasound and describe them as beautiful or strong. They haven’t breathed air yet. Can we give them a chance?”

Back at the museum, Lagoudakis finds herself drawn to a piece that was submitted anonymously. It’s a gray t-shirt with a tag sticking out. Lagoudakis says when she got the donation, her first instinct was to tuck the tag down.

“And then I realized, no,” said Lagoudakis. “That’s what this piece is about. Let it do its thing.”

The shirt has words scratched into the front. They tell the story of the artist’s experience with gender labels. 

The script reads: “It feels like a tag in my shirt. I don’t hate the shirt. I like it — the way it looks and feels. But there is this tag, it itches. Sometimes I can ignore it, pretend it’s not there. I’m reminded of the tag on every application trying to fit me in a box. Every time someone says, ‘Hey, ladies.’ Every time I use a gendered bathroom. And I think that’s an interesting reminder that we make assumptions about people. And that may not fit the way they feel about themselves.”

Tremblay grew up in Petersburg. In her many years of advocacy here, she said she’s encountered a lot of people who say they feel like they’re the only queer person on the island.

“And then we tell them, that’s actually not at all true. There’s actually quite a few of us, we just all tend to feel that way. And so if this is something that can help people feel a little bit less alone, just knowing that we’re out here, even if, you know, we’re also all busy people.”

The Pride Art Show was on display at the Clausen Memorial Museum through the last week of June.

Editor’s Note: For full disclosure, Chelsea Tremblay and Cindi Lagoudakis are volunteers at KFSK.