Peter Kunt was created as performative extension of my work as a queer artist and LGBTQIA+ theatre scholar. I am committed to creating original work that resurrects queer voices of the past that have been silenced, forgotten and erased. 

Originally inspired by queer mid-century New England primitive artists, Peter Hunt and Peter Ompir, this work reframes naive, folkloric techniques (distinct brushwork) and compositions (often geometric or symmetrical) drawn from early settler colonists and immigrants to what would become the United States. The compositions are painted on wood, cotton or found, antique objects using contemporary acrylics, forcing a material confrontation between the past (organic) and the present (synthetic) and striving to disrupt patriarchal concepts of
history as linear, progressive and/or a factual record.

As Peter Kunt, my work engages with queerness and/or queering in a variety of ways.

First, the whimsical, “peasant style” of the paintings aims to incite a sense of nostalgia, a longing for a romantic and sanitized national past. The euphemistic, homoerotic titles, however, are drawn from LGBTQIA+ culture (often sexual) and violently clash against the images, transforming the initial whimsy into high camp and rage. 

Second, because the paintings operate on two levels, the surface (aesthetic) and the encoded (narrative), they perform themselves as metaphor for the underground tenacity required for the survival of queer Americans for the past 400 years of our post-invasion history. I believe that the process of reworking old materials into new is a queer metamorphosis that actualizes an ambivalent perspective from which to reconsider this fraught history, transforming oppression into representation, inclusion and visibility.

Finally, the quaint aesthetic of the work is intended as a kind stealth queer magic; if the paintings should find themselves in spaces where they could be read as only “surface” I suggest that they become fetish objects, clandestinely inhabiting those spaces with a performing queer authority.

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