From woodworking and screen printing to vintage fashion, we caught up with some of the top LBGTQIA+ makers and artists in the city.
The District is alive with art, from commissioned murals to body jewelry to collages of stickers on bus sign poles. The art is rebellious, active, functional or the perfect staple piece to the bones of an outfit. To get a sense of some of the art our community is creating, we caught up with a few LGBTQIA+ artists, makers and creators who add their own twist on D.C.’s art scene. You can meet these artists for yourself at District Fray’s Art Out Loud Pride party on June 3, where they will sell their wares at a maker’s market.
Skip the scroll: Click on the names below to read our rapid-fire interviews.
Most surprising fabric source.
Swimsuits! It’s my favorite material to work with. It’s lightweight, doesn’t fray, it holds the shapes I make and it’s sweat/water resistant so they make great earrings to swim or work out in.
Why earrings. I have this recurring experience when I make the first earring: I think it’s so perfect, and I won’t be able to make the second one quite as well. Almost always, the second one is objectively closer to perfect while the first one might be a little more unruly, but together, they bring balance. I find this process to be really fulfilling, especially when I get to meet the person who is drawn to them and ends up wearing them home.
Connection to D.C. queer culture.
I feel so seen, held and supported by the D.C. queer community. I am so honored to be a part of it. My earrings are well represented in this community, and it makes me so happy to hear how much mutual joy they bring.
How you’re activating for Pride. I designed earrings a few years back that are Pride inspired. They sold out that year but also have become year-round best sellers. I spend a lot of time gathering all the fabric to make sure I can always have them in stock and celebrate all year, not just in June.
How D.C. inspires your work. There is such a desire and need for self-expression here in D.C., and my earrings give people permission to show up big. I am continually inspired by my customers and friends who share with me that my earrings have helped them find their own style and feel more like themselves.
A tactile memory of D.C. I love when it’s pool season in D.C., because I get to showcase my earrings and do water testing for the different designs. I love to jump off the diving board in them. I had my friend Morgan do a slow-motion video of me walking out of Banneker Pool with my favorite earrings of the summer on. The weight of the wet fabrics moving across my face is a great memory.
Your favorite creation. Building all of my house furniture and home decor.
Why you create. I started creating as a way to escape my day job.
Local LGBTQIA+ shoutout. Chesapeake & Potomac Softball (CAPS). Best queers around, and the league is everything you never knew you were missing.
What Pride means to you. Pride means being balls-to-the-wall you with no regret.
Best season in D.C. Fall. Everything beautiful about D.C. is amplified by the gorgeous tree foliage. Even the leaves on the ground have a beauty to them.
All-time favorite vintage find.
My mother Keren Blount’s 1960s tan suede trench coat that I found in the family attic at 16 years old. The beauty of the details sparked my love of vintage fashion.
Why wear vintage.
Why not? To wear vintage, you embody the uniqueness, the history, of the vintage garment, which gives your style character and a story to tell.
Your career journey.
I have been collecting, styling, reselling vintage fashion, accessories and home goods for my brand Modretro Couture for 10 years.
Your aesthetic in three words. Colorful, eclectic and streetwear/hip-hop.
D.C.’s vintage persona. I feel many are now embracing the overall cool factor of vintage and, most of all, realizing that the sustainability offered is unmatched [by] today’s fashion.
Local fashion inspiration.
I love the DMV’s diversity. I simply “people watch” the street fashion while vending at local markets in the Georgetown and Union Market area.
Curation/design ethos. I love to make products celebrating nature, vintage and creativity. We all take life too seriously — so my goal is to create objects that you just can’t help but smile when you look at or wear.
How you build community in the DMV.
Whether at a street fair, a workshop or via social media marketing, my team and I try to make everyone interacting with the brand feel welcome. And by injecting positive, warm energy into everything we do, the community part comes naturally.
Favorite thing about teaching.
I love seeing workshop participants enjoy themselves in a relaxed yet structured social environment.
How you celebrate Pride as an ally.
As a business, I celebrate Pride by making things that allow members of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate themselves through their style. Accessorizing may seem like a small thing, but it’s an essential part of self-expression — and there’s no better time for the queer community to be wholly themselves than during Pride.
Best local spots to shop vintage.
I highly recommend thrifting all over the suburbs of the DMV. Salvation Army tends to have great finds for good prices. My favorite is to visit small, independently-owned antique stores.
Where in the DMV you feel most at home.
I can’t get enough of the Botanic Garden. Surrounded by all that chlorophyll, it’s the best place to make me feel wholly in the moment and detach myself from whatever stressors I’m dealing with. I feel like I escaped to a magical world and never want to leave.
Your art inspiration.
Beautiful people. My communities, my identities and this beautiful life I get to live.
How you focus on inclusivity.
As a queer, mixed, brown, Jewish woman, I’m always looking to create space for my voice and other voices like mine that don’t fit neatly into the boxes society tries to push us into or have been historically excluded.
How ceramics can be resistant. bell hooks’ quote: “‘Queer’ not as being about who you’re having sex with (that can be a dimension of it); but ‘queer’ as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and that has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live” inspires my art and how I move through life.
Favorite part of Pride Month. Honestly the memes — so many folks (re: companies) get Pride so wrong that it leads to incredible comedy, content and creativity by queer folks online.
Best way to unwind.
Hours in the studio, basking in the sun, submerging in a body of water or enjoying a tasty little treat.
Favorite art gallery in D.C.
Something about the National Portrait Gallery really does it for me.
Your piercing/waxing ethos.
I think it’s so important to help people see themselves how they want and deserve to be seen, and sometimes even one new piercing or fresh wax can help them better take care of the person they are inside — self-expression and self care aren’t selfish.
Ear curation philosophy. Ear curations are all about selectively styling the piercings and jewelry to fit your anatomy, lifestyle and personality. The possibilities are endless.
Words of wisdom for clients. Don’t overthink. Life is short, have fun.
What Pride means to you. To me, Pride means showing my support for the people in the LGBTQIA+ community and the opportunity to feel safe to be authentically themselves.
Favorite way to celebrate D.C. queer culture.
Definitely Capital Pride and supporting Artsy Queers, which is an indoor market that showcases local artists selling handmade artwork, photography, pottery, jewelry and clothing.
Three things that come to mind when you think of D.C.
Home, diversity and culture.
Why you create.
Creating is how I take apart what’s around me and make it into something new, because reality is depressing, so I cut things up and rearrange them to make them silly.
Your art ethos.
Art is one of those aspects of culture that keeps humanity going even through the darkest times. Art is about sharing and connecting.
Favorite Pride event.
Every day is Pride, every month is Pride, so my favorite Pride event is anything that a queer member of my community is ever putting on for other queer people.
How identity shows up in your art. My art and my identity are intertwined; I see no separation between what I make and who I am.
Favorite D.C. mural.
The mural plus the added graffiti on the old Wendy’s in the Dave Thomas Circle have been fascinating to me. It looks visually like how gentrification in D.C. feels.
Favorite bar in D.C.
Showtime is my all-time favorite bar ever; everyone is a friend even if I don’t know their name.
What you love about screen printing.
The ability to play and experiment with a single image in a spectrum of different ways.
Why community is important in art.
Sharing ideas makes us all better. A single conversation can alter your thinking of a concept you’ve been mulling on or a technique you have been working with.
Favorite part of screen-printing workshops.
I love working with people who are new to screen printing, because they bring fresh ideas and make me constantly rethink my process as I explain it to others.
How art and Pride mesh.
Art is just one way to celebrate individuality and share it with others, even if it is simple as a way of dress or as complicated as creating a large-scale installation or mural. Art and Pride have always gone hand-in-hand; I can’t even think of how one would look without the other.
Favorite way to celebrate Pride.
Pride is about supporting and celebrating your loved ones and the community whenever and however you can. I like engaging with the community and sharing my love of screen printing through a pop-up shop or live screen-printing event. Best park in D.C. Is saying Rock Creek Park cheating? I just love being able to enjoy it on so many different levels, whether you’re driving through it, going on a bike ride or a run, or exploring while hiking.
How your work explores queer joy.
Using my art as an outlet to better understand myself created this theme of intimacy in my work (with oneself, community, nature, etc.) — that intimacy is queer joy to me.
One thing you can’t stop painting.
Fruit. Lately, I’ve been enjoying getting back into still-life compositions while having fun with texture and color.
One thing you couldn’t make art without.
I can’t create without background noise. It’s currently “The Sopranos” (again).
How you’re celebrating Pride.
I’ll definitely be acting a fool on a dance floor at some point, but I mostly like to take this month to focus on resting and learning more queer history.
Must-go D.C. place to take out-of-town visitors.
Heat Da Spot Café for breakfast.
Benefits of herbal alchemy. Herbal alchemy is the transformation of plants to extract their healing essence — and apply it within us for our growth and healing. Herbal alchemy connects us with the wisdom of the Earth.
Your creation inspiration. Gaia, our Earth and the plants themselves are my greatest source of inspiration. Particularly aromatic plants.
Favorite aspect of Pride Month.
My favorite aspect of Pride is the celebration of love and all its expressions. And you can feel the love energy during a Pride parade — it’s magical. Also the fashion.
How your work is inclusive.
I work with aromatic plants to create personal and home fragrances, and I often get asked about scents for specific genders. To me, aromas, scents, smells do not have gender. I do not mean to say that aromatic tastes and preferences are a one size fits all, but rather I believe that as much as people, each aroma has its own personality, and this is what I want to celebrate when I develop a new scent.
Favorite D.C. suburb.
I live not too far from Bethesda and I must say, it’s pretty cute.
Go-to D.C. restaurant.
I love The Wharf and its many delicious restaurants with the water views. I was also really impressed by L’Ardente.
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