December 4, 2021 11:00 am - April 3, 2022 4:00 pm
Image: Utica Queen by Trevor Beaty
December 4, 2021 – April 3, 2022
Burton & Judy Onofrio Galleries
Co-Curated by Zoe Cinel and Brian Dukerschein
The Rochester Art Center is thrilled to announce Homecoming Queen, a 4,000-square-foot exhibition that invites visitors to explore the wonderful world of Utica Queen, star of Season 13 of the Emmy-winning pop-culture phenomenon “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The exhibition will feature approximately 20 mannequins dressed in Utica’s most stunning garments, her original design sketches, large-scale editorial photographs of the “Drag Race” alumna, and a 10-minute film highlighting Utica’s background and creative process.
In addition, for the first time in the Art Center’s 75-year history, the show will also be offered as a ticketed virtual experience, meaning that drag fans and fashion lovers from across the globe will be able to immerse themselves in a fully navigable online gallery and enjoy close-up views of Utica’s fantastic creations.
Homecoming Queen will open with an evening celebration on Dec. 4 and run through April 3, 2022. The exhibition is being co-curated by Art Center curator Zoe Cinel and Art Center board member Brian Dukerschein.
“While Utica is an incredibly charismatic performer, what truly sets her apart and elevates her craft is the fact that she conceives, designs, and sews her own looks, which are at Alexander McQueen levels of inspiration, creativity and artistry,” says Dukerschein. “To our knowledge, this is the first-ever exhibition that positions a drag performer as a visual artist via their garments. And since the show features elements of everything from fashion and photography to queer culture and gender expression, it is our sincere hope that this exhibition serves as a catalyst for many meaningful conversations, but especially regarding LGBTQIA+ issues in our community.”
Utica, aka Ethan Mundt, was born and raised in Utica, MN, a small town of less than 300 roughly 30 miles east of Rochester. Upon graduating from high school, Mundt moved to St. Paul, MN, to attend Hamline University, where he earned dual degrees in fine art and theater design. It was at Hamline that Mundt started exploring drag, and before long he was performing regularly at venues throughout the Twin Cities. Then came “Drag Race,” where he quickly won the hearts of fans across the world with his artfully inspired looks. Mundt continues to delight his more than 460,000 Instagram followers with his creativity and in September will take the UK by storm during an 11-city tour with Season 13 cohort Denali.
“To have my drag celebrated in the area I grew up is something I never thought would happen, so this feels like a wild dream come true,” says Mundt. “I hope this show brings a lot of joy to everyone who sees it and inspires them to live life a little more freely and to look at their fellow humans with more kindness.”
Exhibition highlights will include such pieces as Utica’s blue and yellow checkered “Drag Race” promo look, her take on Carol Burnett’s infamous “Gone With the Wind” parody, and, of course, the instantly iconic sleeping bag dress made during a Season 13 design challenge. “Every outfit is incredibly imaginative and original, but just like a well-crafted puzzle, they are all rich in cultural and historical references,” says Cinel. “The meticulous application of pleats and stitches, the purposeful use of matching or complementing colors, and the immense care for detail all speak to Ethan’s deep passion and talent for the art form of drag.”
During the four-month run of the show, the Art Center will host a variety of programming events with local- and state-level LGBTQIA+ groups to facilitate public discussion and exploration on many topics, including queer artistry and culture, gender expression, personal stories, and community development.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Thank you to our talented friend Tatyana Kurepina for creating this video. Learn more about Tatyana on her Instagram: @Tatyana.Kurepina