Jamison Edgar


MARCH 03 - MAY 27, 2023

Make Me Feel Mighty Real tracks the evolution of avatars in queer creative practices, with special attention given to the tools and techniques that artists use to build community, cruise utopia, and enact unruly hybridity online and IRL.

Installation View, Lobby
︎:Jeff McLane

North Gallery

South Gallery

North Reception 

North Project Space

Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present Make Me Feel Mighty Real: Drag/Tech and the Queer Avatar, a group exhibition surveying the conceptual and aesthetic proliferation of avatars in queer creative practices. The exhibition features over 40 artists and chronicles seven decades of experimentation in photography, painting, film, performance, and animation to champion the tools and techniques that artist use to build community, cruise utopia, and enact unruly hybridity online and IRL.

The exhibition’s title borrows lyrics from Sylvester’s legendary 1978 disco anthem, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real,)” a melodic monument to uninhibited queer desire, and its capacity to alter the mind, reconfigure the body, and spawn a new reality into existence. In turn, Make Me Feel Mighty Real serves as the song’s most recent refrain, celebrating a lineage of artists whose resolve to forge their own mixed realities continues to nurture our technological fantasies today.  The phrase “Drag/Tech” is offered as a curatorial key to spotlight the significance of these entangled tech relationships while presenting drag as a form of technology itself—applied queer knowledge accumulated, preserved, and reperformed across multiple generations and cultural terrains.

Visitors to the gallery will be immersed in the rituals and traditions of Drag performance, but rather than restage a chronological history of the queer art form, the exhibition assembles a constellation of visual artists, avant-garde performers, nightlife celebrities, grassroots archivists, DIY publishers, and experimental technologists to illustrate the vital role technology has played in shaping the political power of Drag. Filtered through the lens of emerging digital technologies, “The Avatar” materializes throughout the exhibition in both its ancient and modern connotations — as both a divine, otherworldly teacher and as a physical/virtual surrogate. The breadth of artistic practices assembled highlights the range of creative play that has emerged in between the term's contrasting definitions. 
Merging the formal affordances of the white cube with the maximalist aesthetics of queer nightclubs, virtual chatrooms, and underground performance venues, Make Me Feel Mighty Real transforms Honor Fraser into a living archive of glamor, grit, glitch, and gore. Canonical queer artists, filmmakers, and performers including Josef Astor, Charles Atlas, The Cockettes, Mundo Meza, and Andy Warhol are woven into a constellation of emerging and established contemporaries such as Caitlin Cherry, Huntress Janos, Jacolby Satterwhite, Devan Shimoyama, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, and Angela Washko. The careers of Leigh Bowery, Divine, RuPaul, Sylvester, Symone, and other legendary entertainers are contextualized through the illustrious resilience of transgender icons such as Potassa de la Fayette, Greer Lankton, Octavia St. Laurent, Amanda Lepore, and Marsha P. Johnson. The influence of queer collectives, like the Los Angeles-based House of Avalon, on mainstream fashion, entertainment, and social media are juxtaposed with the monstrous excess of “post-internet” identities seen in the work of Zach Blas, Dynasty Handbag, Big Art Group, Ryan Trecartin, and Theo Triantafyllidis.

At its core, Make Me Feel Might Real amplifies the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent of all queer people at the very moment when politicians and vigilantes are determined to suppress our very existence. Each artwork is a fabulous invocation for all of us to dream beyond the boundaries of binary gender, sex, biology, and human subjectivity.

Exhibited Artists: Enrique Agudo, Steven Arnold, Josef Astor, Charles Atlas, Zach Blas, Big Art Group (Caden Manson, Jemma Nelson,) Richard Bernstein, Leonard Burtman, Caitlin Cherry, Aaron Cobbett, The Cockettes, Max Colby, Caleb Craig, Ronnie Cutrone, Eleanor Davis, Tand Iman Dupree, Jake Elwes, Scott Ewalt, Connie Fleming, Dynasty Handbag, Hilary Harp, Je Huereque, Wesleigh Gates, Greg Gorman, Bob Gruen, House of Avalon (Symone, Gigi Goode Hunter Crenshaw, Caleb Feeney, Grant Vanderbilt, Marko Monroe,) Huntrezz Janos, John Kelly Eric Kroll, Greer Lankton, Marcus Leatherdale, Christopher Makos, Mundo Meza, Milton Miron, Perfidia, Tom Rubnitz, Jacolby Satterwhite, Devan Shimoyama, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley Suzie Silver, TABBOO!, Ryan Trecartin, Theo Triantafyllidis, Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou, Jemim Wyman, Andy Warhol, Angela Washko, Astor Yang, Robert Yang

Ephemera casements curated by Scott Ewalt

Curatorial research and exhibition operations were enriched by partnerships with The Mattress Factory(Pittsburgh, PA), The Onassis Foundation, Frameline Dist., The Video Database, Jef Huereque, Daria Darling, Steven Perfidia, Kirkham, August Bernadicou. Mitchell - Innes & Nash, Gazelli Art House, Th Estate of Richard Bernstein, Fahey / Klein Gallery, Vishnu Dass, Beth Rudin DeWoody, James Hedges IV, Meredith Rosen Gallery, Regen Projects, The Hole, KARMA, Factory International, and Stavros Merjos Limited.