This past June, 2017, I had the honor of speaking on a panel at the Craft and Folk Art Museum about my work in the Queer Threads book and exhibition. Along with fellow Queer threads artists Diedrick Brackens, Aubrey Longley-Cook, Maria E. Piñeres, Nathan Vincent, and Curator John Chaich, I was featured in a thoughtful article on KCET:
Ben Cuevas, 30, is a sculptor, performance artist and knitter, practices he honed while studying art at Massachusetts’ Hampshire College. His work, “Genitosexual,” a wool, silk, cotton and polyester fiber-filled work from 2009, represents the sacral chakra, which relates to sexuality, creativity and well-being, while at the same time, is also a fusion of male and female genitals. Cuevas said he brought sexuality together with being queer through knitting, which he also considers meditative.
“It started for me from historically feminine connotations of knitting, even though knitting hasn’t always been considered women’s work. The modern conception of it comes from that, and from that angle it seems very fused with gender and sexuality from the get go. Being queer and a gender queer person doesn’t define my art, but I bring it into my work and it influences it.”
Cuevas’ “Duality no. 1: Masculine/Feminine,” a magenta and gray knitted knee-length jumpsuit displayed on a double mannequin and fused together at the back, could be a Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons) creation, or garb for Siamese twins. Joking aside, what Cuevas intended was for people to see how the masculine and feminine are connected.
“That piece was inspired by the Aristophanes’ creation myth, where there were two selves in one form. The male and female mannequins are connected by those garments I knitted out of a patchwork of squares,” added Cuevas, “and the surface detail on each one of those squares also references male and female genitalia. For me it’s a way of visually representing gender as a patchwork of various expressions combined to make a whole.”
Cuevas, whose recent work, “Twitterstorm” is part of a group show, “Mirame! Expressions of Queer Latinx Art,” on view at the Plaza de Cultural y Artes in downtown L.A. through December 9, also feels that queerness in textiles is having a moment.
“With the political climate being what it is, there’s already a strong connection between craft and activism, and we’re only going to be seeing more political, queer, radical leftist work that’s pushing against this very conservative era, and “Queer Threads” is a marker…