Growing up in the South isn’t easy. Not only do you have to deal with the overbearing humidity during the summers, but there’s also the sea of neighboring red states which blanket the United States map each election cycle, the conservative attitudes polluting a majority of its residents, and, of course, the reality of the South’s ugly history which you must confront each time you’re walking down the street and see a Confederate flag posted on a neighbor’s porch. The burdens of living there are even heavier when you’re a person of color, or, heaven forbid, your sexuality is anything other than hetero. Jarvis Boyland, an emerging black, queer artist from Memphis, Tennessee, currently based in Chicago, experienced these burdens throughout his childhood. Instead of allowing the discomfort of his background and surroundings to overwhelm him, he’s using them as catalysts for his work.
Boyland’s most outstanding pieces focus on intimate portraits of queer, black men in the comfort of domestic settings, free from the prejudices which follow them throughout their life. Although relaxed, by deconstructing their anxieties, the men are inherently defiant in their abode. On April 6th, Kohn Gallery opened On Hold:, an exhibition, which, in conjunction with NY-based artist Heidi Hahn’s stellar show, Burn Out in Shredded Heaven, continues on until May 23rd. Flaunt had the lovely opportunity to chat with Boyland on his experiences growing up in the South, the inspiration behind his work, and the power behind portraiture.