Invasive Queer Kudzu


quilting, soft sculpture


Installation variable


Not For Sale


Quilts, weeds, yellowing wallpaper, firewood, a taxidermy bear and Colonial-Revival couch—my works reach across generational divides through a language of form and material dialect. Probing the images and cultural artifacts from my geographical, familial and domestic background reveals gaps in which I can insert and reconstruct my own complicated narrative as a nerdy Appalachian queer guy. In this space, stories of cruising men and family past-times are pieced together as a multi-layered patchwork of text, images, patterned cloth, personal clothing, furniture, wallpaper, drawings and found domestic textiles. These saturated works draw attention to the often murky intersection of personal desires and family institutions, as well as openly question our larger social constructions of deviancy, shame, adolescent imprinting and heteronormativity.  Engulfing hills, trees and old buildings in a dense stranglehold, the kudzu vine colonizes and alien landscapes emerge. An “invasive” species, kudzu taps into our fears of otherness, connecting it in many ways to perceptions of queerness. Such interspecies anxiety is not wholly unlike the persistent fear that a “homosexual agenda” could sweep across the nation if left unchecked. Today, polls show us that many parts of the U.S. are “naturally” moving towards gay marriage equality and expanded rights for LGBTQ people. Yet, the land of kudzu is often portrayed as a place of entrenched homophobia. Lost in this politicized fray are the lives, memories, stories and histories of Southern queers and their ingenuity contending with the status quo. Invasive, a project for Southern queers and their allies, subverts the negative characterization of invasive species and uses queer kudzu as a symbol of visibility, strength and tenacity in the face of presumed “unwantedness”. Traveling across the Southern states, the project will facilitate the collection of stories of LGBTQ people through workshops at community centers and historical documents from archives. Drawing on the preeminence of quilting in Southern folkways and the work of creator Aaron McIntosh, the artist will embed these stories, photographs, and archive documents into quilted leaves and vines. Eventually forming an overwhelming and undeniable mass of Southern queerness, the kudzu will be exhibited at art centers and public events across the Southeast.
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About this Artist

Aaron McIntosh

Aaron McIntosh

Aaron McIntosh (b. 1984, Kingsport, TN) is a cross-disciplinary artist whose work mines the intersections of material culture, family tradition, sexual desire and identity politics in a range of works including quilts, sculpture, collage, drawing and writing. As a fourth-generation quilt maker whose grandparents were noted quilters in their Appalachian communities, this tradition of working with scraps is a primary platform from which he explores the patch worked nature of identity. Since 2015, McIntosh has managed Invasive Queer Kudzu, a community storytelling and archive project across the LGBTQ South. His work has been exhibited at the Toldedo Museum of Art, Hangaram Art Museum in Seoul, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Yale University’s Green Art Gallery, the International Quilt Study Center, the Los Angeles Craft & Folk Art Museum and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art in New York City. His current research creation project, Hot House/Maison Chaude, is supported…
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