Soso Capaldi (they/them), Laken Hoover (she/her), and Kelsie Tyson (she/they)
Curated by Becka Jean (she/her)
Jodee Harris Gallery, Seton Hill University, 201 W Otterman St. Greensburg, PA 15601
February 2nd - March 3rd 2023
Opening on February 2nd, 4-8 PM, Talk at 5 PM
Phat Playhouse is an autobiographical exploration and enjoyment of self. This bright and fun display of these works begs the viewer to seek joy through a non-normative lens. This exhibit posits that identity is not strictly about the way things ought to be, but also about the way things are. The viewer is invited to immerse themselves in play to find the beauty of disabled, queer, and fat bodies. Phat Playhouse makes identity and politics a site for play, not contention.
Soso Capaldi is a queer artist based in Philadelphia, PA. Their work often incorporates repeating, colorful dots, and energetic patterns. Creatures inhabit their art; tiny, peculiar organisms manifest their own queer lives inside Soso’s work. Their artwork, figuratively and literally, seeks to make friends. Their art's bright colors and dynamic lines bridge the gap between Soso’s perspective and the viewer’s. Inside their neon worlds, we can feel the buzz and awe of all the big and beautiful shapes around us.
Laken Hoover is a disabled artist working with the Woodlands Art Here in Wexford, PA. Laken’s work revolves around repetition and mirroring, taking inspiration from another disabled artist, Judith Scott. Wrapping yarn methodically around an object, she ritualistically transforms it into something cocooned. When I asked her what her favorite part of being an artist was, she said she enjoys “making stuff.” Indeed, the core of her work very much lies in the act of creation. I sat down with her while she wrapped “Bomb,” simply sitting and feeding her yarn as she explored the contours. Together we wrapped “Chair,” which was an incredible moment of kindness and love. With each wrap, something new is learned.
Kelsie Tyson is an artist that explores themes of fatness and queerness. They confront stereotypes of what it means to be Appalachian through graphic prints, whimsical fabrics, and bold ceramics. She has “found that the most fearless thing a fat woman can do is eat.” I take these words of kindness to heart. Huge fabric works surround and envelope the viewer. Their work centers on what Phat Playhouse seeks to expose: the fun and bright side of identity politics.
Phat Playhouse is not a place for pathologizing. These bodies, minds, and works of art are beautiful because of their differences, not despite them. They are insights into how others move through and interact with the world. They are magical microscopes, revealing things beyond a normative imagination. My own insecurities inspired this exhibition. I sometimes find myself uncomfortable with my own identity. In this way, Phat Playhouse is a love letter and reminder to find joy and beauty in all things.