Drag is that wonderfully queer, effervescent performance artform that brings to life the fantasy of transformation and the joy of play. Drag, as we understand it today, is almost always connected to the LGBTQ community, and it has held an important role in queer culture, well before the advent of the tv show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Feminist philosophers and scholars of performance might look to drag as a way to explain how gender itself is a kind of ritual—an aesthetic endeavor which you learn over time. But to most queers, drag queens offer a certain promise, whether performing at a gay bar or on television: the promise that you could become fabulous with the right wig and the right attitude. Drag offers queer folk the chance to play with or play outside of gendered lines, using their bodies, augmented or not, as the canvas through which they create a stage persona (sometimes) different from the one they inhabit in their day-to-day lives.
Anthropology doctoral candidate Paul Michael L. Atienza with English alumni Dr. John Musser and Dr. Michael Shetina were invited to advise on an early exhibit proposal about the history of drag artistry sometime in early 2018. Nearly two years later, In Her Closet-How to Make a Drag Queen is open to the public.
The popularity of drag has exploded in recent years, and so have the questions and curiosities related to drag artistry. In Her Closet highlights the aesthetic practices of costuming and styling part of an artist's vision and fantasy. The exhibit curates a selection of costumes and materials loaned by several drag performers connected to the Champaign-Urbana area.
Public programming will accompany this exhibit all year. Information will be on the Museum’s events website and Facebook calendar.
To read more about the exhibit, check out a feature by Cope Cumpston in Smile Politely, Champaign-Urbana's culture magazine.
The Spurlock Museum celebrates the people and places of our world: our heritage as members of individual cultures and as the community of humanity.
Free general admission | www.spurlock.illinois.edu | (217) 333-2360 | 600 S Gregory Street, Urbana, Illinois 61801
Monday closed | Tuesday 12:00–5:00 pm | Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 am–5:00 pm | Saturday 10:00 am–4:00 pm | Sunday 12:00–4:00 pm
On weekdays, park at meters on Oregon and Gregory Streets. On weekends, park for free in UIUC lot D22 (behind the Museum) in non-reserved spaces.
The Spurlock Museum is committed to offering a wide level of accessibility assistance. To request accommodations, please contact our information desk at (217) 333-2360. Early requests are appreciated to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.
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