ISU galleries celebrate the ‘ghosts of queer history’ in unique exhibit

If you are looking for vivid colors (other than Christmas lights) as the landscape turns gray, make sure to swing by the University Galleries at Illinois State University for Eric Anthony Berdis’ solo exhibition – “Don’t Let Them Clip Your Tiny Little Insect Wings.”

Berdis describes his work as embracing “a maximalist aesthetic of archival research, personal secrets and gay boy glamour,” while aiming to “create a world that is both familiar and inherently strange.”

Walking into to see walls covered in colorful butterflies, bugs and bordered by faux sunflowers, viewers are immediately immersed into a world unto itself that reflects not only the life and work of the artist, but each piece carries with it a piece of LGBTQ+ folks’ stories that includes photography, a bit of sequence, rhinestones and even band-aids.

The second room in the gallery is dedicated to “ghosts” of queer history and is aligned with the anniversary of Matthew Shephard’s death and 2018 memorial. The ghosts made out of colorful afghans and sequence outlining butterflies tell the story of the lives of artists David Wojnarowicz, Keith Haring and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

“I am specifically imagining what a queer ghost would look like,” said Berdis in a published interview with ISU curator Jessica Bingham. “This comes from examining the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, as well as altar spaces that are made after someone’s life is suddenly taken; improvisational and filled with personal items, mementos, and love notes.”

The exhibit also came with live performance art from Berdis back in October, including a race of the artist’s hobby horses across the ISU quad. And on Dec. 2 there was an all-day film screening observing Day With(out) Art and World Aids Day.

The exhibit is free and open through Dec. 15. And if you go, here’s another great exhibit to check out.