Drawing on Queer History, Moises Salazar Glamorizes Faceless Figures in Glitter

“El Gran Varon” (2022), glitter and acrylic on canvas, yarn, 46 x 36 x 2.5 inches

Glitter has a deep connection to queer culture and identity. Appearing in drag performances in the early 20th century, the sparkling material quickly became associated with gender-bending, and today, it’s frequently used in protest and activist circles advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.

Moises Salazar references this history and their Mexican heritage through mixed-media portraits. Rendering faceless figures in glitter—a choice that allows each subject to be a surrogate for queer Latinx people—Salazar depicts scenes of joy, confidence, and defiance as they present figures who are tender but resolute. The portraits often have an autobiographical bent, emerging from the artist’s connection to Chicago’s queer community and originating with depictions of their own body.

Drawing on craft traditions, the lush combination of faux fur, sequins, and acrylic paint nested inside crocheted yarn frames feeds into the ostentatious nature of these works, dovetailing with Salazar’s insistence that the subjects are revered and celebrated. In an interview with The Latinx Project, they say of their material choices:

I love feeling glamorous, and I think that’s something universal. Regardless of gender, age, and sexual expression, we all love feeling our best, and that’s what I’m trying to express in my work. As children, I think we’re taught to not stand out or cause attention to ourselves, but I think we should do the opposite. That’s why I put so much emphasis on creating a tactile experience. I want my work to stand out, and I pull out all the stunts to do it. I’m a person that if I’m asked, “Don’t you think that’s too much?,” I add twenty new things.

Salazar’s portraits are on view for In My Arms through July 27 at Epiphany Center for the Arts in Chicago. Find more of their work on Instagram.

 

“Trans World #2” (2022), glitter on canvas, yarn, sequin, 62 x 35 x 2.5 inches

“All Alone” (2022), glitter on canvas, yarn, sequin, 49 x 29 x 2.5 inches

“En Esta Noche” (2022), glitter and oil on panel, sequin, yarn, 42 x 25 x 2.5 inches

“Yo Soy Una Mujer” (2022), glitter on canvas, yarn, sequin, 62 x 35 x 2.5 inches

“Social,” glitter, acrylic, fabric on canvas, yarn

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