Pittsburgh Report: Five Places for Healing Through Art — Martha Schwendener

The New York Times , 01.09.2019

Through March 17 at the Andy Warhol Museum; 412-237-8300, warhol.org.

In the mid-1970s, Andy Warhol was commissioned by an Italian art dealer to create portraits of drag stars who treated gender — altered through clothing, wigs and makeup — as a medium. “Ladies and Gentlemen” (1974-75) is paradoxically one of Warhol’s largest and yet least-known series. A collaged painting made with glitter, rhinestones and jewelry by Devan Shimoyama, an art professor at Carnegie Mellon University, hangs alongside the “Ladies and Gentlemen” paintings, creating a near-perfect pairing.

On another floor in the Warhol Museum, Mr. Shimoyama presents dozens of paintings, sculptures and photographs in which he uses himself as a boundary-testing and stereotype-breaking model, often in the imagined context of the African-American barbershop, a hotbed of heteronormative masculinity. A series of photographs created by Mr. Shimoyama during a residency on Fire Island in New York, in 2015, documents private rituals he performed on the beach with driftwood. He made the photographs at a moment when violence against black Americans was, once again, headline news, and began by reading about witchcraft, queer counterculture and chaos magic, photographing his body like a shaman, in the same way Warhol’s subjects performed in various genders to rise above a bleak real world.