The Art of Drag Artists’ Statements

Eric Abele  Eve's Tempter

Eve's Tempter is a painting in which I explore my personal experience growing up queer in a conservative, religious environment–both domestic and societal.  Instead of painting direct memories or incidents as narrative, I am interested in speaking to a more global perspective on how effortlessly Christian concepts casually malign an entire population of humans as morally bankrupt sinners doomed to eternal punishment.  The context for choosing a serpent comes from biblical narrative.  Genesis 3:1 says, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The cobra represents both a subversion of God's will and a common euphemism used for penises.  By adorning the holy serpent in drag, the image seeks to betray the social domination of masculinity and the collective worship of male genitalia.


Eduard Anthony   Freaky Girl/ Pay Me What You Owe Me

In this series, you won't just see the glamour and spectacle of Drag; you'll also glimpse its true essence. I've documented the vulnerable, courageous, and intimate moments that make up the fabric of this dynamic, daring community. I've seen performers transition from their dazzling stage personas into ordinary individuals, yet still pulsing with that distinct Drag energy. Even the audience members, without the theatrical wigs and makeup, manifest the spirit of Drag in their own subtle ways.

This body of work is not just a love letter to the Drag culture I witnessed while carrying out my regular duties at the Manor; it's an invitation for you to look beyond the surface. In the ambient lighting, amidst the clinking glasses and hushed conversations, I found extraordinary stories. These photographs peel back the layers to reveal an astonishing blend of grit and grace. They present moments of laughter that defy societal norms, eye contact that speaks volumes, and even the potentially poignant imagery of a torn costume.

In capturing the multidimensional aspects of Drag, this series aims to represent and elevate the face value of Drag. It's not just about entertainment; it's about enlightenment, resistance, and redefinition of identity and self-expression.


Michael Bruley  Lady Raven/ Madam 8 Peach Bottom/ Lady of the Crab

I’m a multidisciplinary artist creating art across various media, from stained glass to oil painting to digital collage, watercolor and acrylic. The art I create is heavily influenced by my personal struggles and experiences. At times I tend to analyze social, political, and cultural issues critically and often draw inspiration from current events. At other times, I like to create art for the "sake of creating art", to bring beauty into a world that is often cold and feels judgmental. Through my art, I aim to explore the relationship between popular culture, fine art, idealism, my own identity as a gay person, and living in an age of hyperreality.


Katey Cooney  #RockStarLife

When Derek first approached me about this project, I knew very little about the world of drag; I hadn't learned much about it, and I had definitely never been to a drag show, although I'd always wanted to go to one. However, I learned immediately upon beginning shooting that the world of drag is nothing if not welcoming. I have had the most amazing time working with the queens at the State Theater and learning more about the art of drag. I am forever grateful to Derek for trusting me with his vision, and I hope everyone who watches this learns something they didn't know before. It's really important to me that, in watching this film, the viewer can feel the positivity and free spiritedness that is so central to the world of drag. I had so much fun with this film, and if it's even half as much fun to watch as it has been to make, then I know it's done its job.


Jennifer Hampton  Cakewalk/Transformation

In my artwork, I gather old stories and ideas and recycle them. Breathing new life into familiar concepts or images, while perpetuating their existence.  Although I paint for my own pleasure, I enjoy the dialog my pieces create, when the tired fairytale becomes a debate, or a vintage illustration is reborn.


Laura Johnson  #1. Blonde /#2. Asian Theme

I want people to see the Drag Queen as a real person who laughs and loves, who hurts and cries. I concentrated on the eyes. They are the windows to the soul. You will see the graciousness and beauty within. This series conveys the loveliness and elegance of my dear friend Jordin Amber Jamison. You are a true beauty both inside and out. I hope after seeing my body of work everyone walks away with a little more room in their hearts for all of the differences we represent.


Cindy Mehr  Lady with Garter Belt/Dread Locks and Cowboy Hat


Ashley Paige  Grace Wetpants (1 & 2)

The artists are the Queens.


William Rothenbach  Oh, Give Me Silver, Blue, & Gold /She Danced One Inch Above the World

This work represents the qualities and characteristics of drag performances and the art of drag:  bright, vivid, and glittery colors; artistic celebration; joy; diversity; creativity; dancing, motion, and personal expression; exaggeration; and temporarily suspending reality to enter a new world of enjoyment.  The vivid golds, gold glitter, and silver, contrasted with the more subtle shades of blue, represent the positive emotions and boundless energy one personally experiences during a drag performance.


Nicholas Rudolf   Lana Del They/Baby/Steal Ya Manz/Alastor - Digital Photographs

Our mission is to provide an inclusive photography studio that captures the essence and beauty of every individual, celebrating their unique stories and identities through the art of photography. At Studio 5, we are committed to creating a safe, welcoming, and empowering environment for people of all genders and backgrounds. Studio 5 aims to break away from traditional stereotypes and redefine beauty standards by highlighting the authenticity of every person. We believe that everyone deserves to be seen, heard, and represented, and we strive to provide a platform where individuals can express themselves freely without judgment or limitations. We value open communication, listening to our clients' needs, and ensuring that they feel comfortable and empowered throughout the creative process. Through our photography, we aim to promote self-acceptance, and inspire positive change. Our studio is a space where individuals can explore their identities, embrace their true selves, and celebrate the beauty that lies within each and every individual.


Virya Shavasana  Virya- Self Portrait

Virya- Self Portrait was inspired by the first ever live speed painting I did in front of an audience. The original painting was completed from start to finish during the 20-minute intermission of the first show my husband ever directed and produced by himself. The show (Cirquetacular Cirquetacular) featured a cast of our very dearest friends within the drag, dance, and circus arts community. To this day, it was the most fun and memorable show I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. After the show there were so many people interested in purchasing one of these portraits that I ended up creating a series of 10 of them. By the time the series was complete, I had grown attached to this image. To me, it not only represents the alter-ego that taught me to be brave, to be always confident and true to myself, to follow my dreams, and to find joy in my creative pursuits… but it also represents a season of my life that has brought me so much happiness. I knew I had to make one special Virya portrait for myself. The painting itself was made primarily using acrylic paints on a stretched canvas and features Virya’s trademark scar and mohawk. The colors were inspired by my favorite eyeshadow palette, and she is finished off with rhinestones and cosmetic glitter as a nod to the costuming and makeup artistry that goes in to the process of transforming from Dave to Virya.


Linnea Tober  Drag Explosion 1 /Drag Explosion 2

These images were created from photography of local drag performers. I wanted to focus on the fact that we, as humans, are all balls of light and energy at our core. We are all color and flash and drama. Drag Queens embrace this energy, to their very souls. The abstracted Drag Explosion designed were created utilizing several techniques of digital art as well as tuning in to their specific energy and power. These works show the dynamic burst of love, fun and glamour we are all. Drag Explosion sums up the very essence of what Drag means to me. Be bold, be daring, be bright and have FUN.


Brian Wessel  Andy & Candy

Andy & Candy is a figurative abstract painting which celebrates the relationship between artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and actress Candy Darling (1944-1974). Darling, best known as a “Warhol Superstar” and transgender icon embodied the class of a silver screen movie star which caught the eye of pop artist Andy Warhol, propelling the two to a mutual bond between visual and performing art.