Community shares art at RaYnbow Collective’s ‘LGBTQ+ at BYU’ art show

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The RaYnbow Collective’s fourth annual art show, “LGBTQ+ at BYU: Beyond the Cosmos,” featured artwork submitted by students, alumni and more, telling the stories of LGBTQ+ students and alumni through art.

The art show invited members of the community to submit and display “visual art, poetry, music and installation pieces that express the possibilities found after one leaves BYU, and also how queer love transcends time and space,” according to the RaYnbow Collective’s website.

The “Beyond the Cosmos” art show was originally scheduled to be on display at the JKR Gallery in Provo from June 14-30, but the show was taken down early due to scheduling conflicts.

Brielle Williams, BYU alumna and the events manager for the RaYnbow Collective, oversaw the art show. Williams expressed her sadness when RaYnbow Collective had to take the artwork down early.

Williams said the founder of the RaYnbow Collective, Maddison Tenney, started the annual art show to create a space where students can communicate their experiences as LGBTQ+ individuals through art.

“It’s also really important to me that people are able to and have a space to express themselves artistically, specifically queer art in Utah where it’s not really celebrated or given galleries like other places,” Williams said. “I wanted to continue it.”

“Trading Glances” by Brooklyn Skidmore. According to Skidmore, this artwork is meant to depict an exchange between two men on a “RaYnbow Day.” (Courtesy of Brooklyn Skidmore)

Williams said individuals submitted sculptures, paintings, prints, poetry, music, ceramic pottery, photography and more for the art show.

BYU psychology major Brooklyn Skidmore submitted two art pieces for the gallery: “Beyond the Cosmos” and “Trading Glances.” She described her process in creating these pieces as cathartic, feeling both joyful and saddened at times.

“I was full of a lot of gratitude for people who helped me and provided reference photos,” Skidmore said. “(There) was just such a story and a process behind each piece, and it felt deeply personal. I knew I was going to be telling a larger story than myself.”

She said she could not think of a closer community than the LGBTQ+ community at BYU.

“I really wanted to capture that feeling of community that people don’t necessarily see,” Skidmore said.

“Beyond the Cosmos” by Brooklyn Skidmore. According to Skidmore, this layered painting depicts an androgynous individual and represents the diverse experiences of LGBTQ+ students at BYU. (Courtesy of Brooklyn Skidmore)

According to a description of “Trading Glances” written by Skidmore, the artwork depicts an exchange between two men on a “RaYnbow Day” as one selects an LGBTQ+ themed pin from the other’s hand. The piece represents recognition and connection with other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“There is power when we connect with someone whose experience mirrors our own, it’s almost as if time stands still,” Skidmore wrote. “The resilience of a community shines, and our joyful existence acts as resistance to the discrimination and dismissal we experience daily. This painting is an homage to those fleeting moments of calm in the storm.”

According to Skidmore’s description of “Beyond the Cosmos,” the painting represents the diverse experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals at BYU through a layered collage.

“Space becomes an apt metaphor for the countless queer individuals who through their lives pave remarkably vibrant paths with unique and undiscovered depths,” she wrote. “These paths ideally center inclusion, love and intersectionality, symbolized through the broader intersecting strokes across the background. As we move on beyond BYU, we possess limitless potential that is ours to explore across a lifetime.”

“Constellation (For Safe Keeping)” by Lauren Melville. This art piece is a sculpture made of star shapes, representing the bond Melville shares with her roommates. (Courtesy of Lauren Melville)

Lauren Melville, a UVU student studying entertainment design, created a sculpture of star shapes inside of a jar for the RaYnbow Collective art show. This art piece was made partly as a collaboration with her roommate after that roommate taught her how to make the polymer clay stars within the sculpture.

“I just have the dear memory of that night where that roommate was showing me how to make them,” Melville said. “We were making them together, and then another roommate joined us in the room, and we were just able to talk about life and our different thoughts on religion and trying to find the balance.”

While the piece started out without much meaning, Melville discovered that the piece had more sentimental value to it than she originally expected.

“I made it … just to express the closeness I feel with my roommates and the bond that we’ve developed and also just some of my developing ideas about just belief itself,” she said.

The RaYnbow Collective is a nonprofit organization in Provo created to support and make safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community at BYU, according to their website.

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