THE QUEER CAROUSEL
BORN from PAPER MACHE AND QUEER MAGIC, THESE GAY GALLOPERS ARE READY FOR A FOREVER HOME
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My work follows the tradition of the circus, carnival and carousel, bringing out its deep queerness. From clay mold to paper mache and plaster cast, each sculpture is hand crafted with deep care celebrating gay archetypes. Campy, exuberant, and fierce, the Queer Carousel is an antidote to the military history of the carousel, and spins a narrative of queer community and resilience.
Finocchio Regina is giddy. Her golden wig cascades across her silver bridal. Her tassels hang low. She's the Italian faggot queen.
Paper Mache, plaster, stainless steel mirror ball, cabinet doorknobs, feathers, 24k gold leaf, costume jewelry, glass beads, glass chandelier crystals, acrylic paint
22" x 10"x 15"
Chandelabra is glamorous. Drenched in glass beads, chandelier jewels, costume jewelry and fuchsia feathers she shines bright wherever she trots.
Paper Mache, joint compound, leather, stainless steel mirror ball, cabinet doorknobs, feathers, costume jewelry, glass beads, rhinestone trim, chandelier crystals, acrylic paint
18 x 18 x 9. 6 lbs 7 oz
Taxi Dressage is dazzling. Her flowing black mane and classic checker design wink to the endangered yellow cab.
Why not go for a ride?
Paper Mache, joint compound, vinyl, leather, stainless steel mirror ball, cabinet doorknobs, black rooster feathers, acrylic paint
15 x 20 x 9. 4 lbs 2oz
Photographs by Phil Van Nostrand
I follow in the footsteps of my Grandfather, Jon Corbino, whose paintings of circus horses taught me to love art.
My work continues the design traditions of the carousel, bringing out its deep queerness.
My first memory of riding a carousel was at Glen Echo Park just outside Washington D.C. The 1921 Dentzel Carousel smelled of aged wood and popcorn. There was a snare drum that played by itself. I don't remember the horses or the glamor, but I do remember the wonder I felt each time the carousel whipped past the organ and that miraculous snare drum played.
In my 20's I was introduced to the Prospect Park Carousel. I heard the organ playing and followed the music. I sat down on a bench and watched as the horses rushed past with their tongues hanging out. Joyful tears poured from my eyes.
Since then, I have designed carousel inspired stages for music festivals, painted galloping horse murals with communities in Greece and Italy and wheat pasted carousel ponies on Brooklyn water towers. These gay gallopers are small acts of queer love, childhood joy and celebration of the ridiculous.
Frieze (25 x 60 in) by Jon Corbino, N.A. (1905-1964) © Lee Corbino/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY. www.joncorbino.org
HOW ARE THEY MADE?
Each horse is sculpted from clay. Newspaper is carefully laid on top of a clay mould in a technique taught to me by Paper Mache masters in Jacmel, Haiti and Peter Schumann from The Bread and Puppet Theater. After the paper cast dries, it is cut from the mould, often resulting in two to three separate pieces. These pieces are glued together, a neck is added and the entire head gets another layer of paper mache. After this dries it is covered in plaster. The plaster is then sanded, details are added and sanded again. Everything is sealed with gesso. Stainless steel mirror balls are placed in the eyes, and then she is ready to be painted. I use heavy body acrylic paint finished with a high gloss sealer. Harnesses are fabricated from refuse materials collected at Materials for the Arts and adorned with trim and costume jewelry. From start to finish each gay gallopers take about 40-90 hours to complete.