In honor of Pride Month, we’re celebrating artists from the Portland LGBTQ+ community and their stories of self-expression. Photos by Ben Sellon.
Tattooed across artist Pace Taylor’s (they/them) fingers are the words “take care,” each letter deeply etched on a different finger. They doesn’t explain the meaning directly, but through their art that depicts tenderness, queer bodies and intimacy, it’s clear that the act of making art is a form of care and emotional exploration. We caught up with Pace to hear about how their work creates a safe and affirming visual space for queer people and their experiences, and the moments where they feel the most proud to show up.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your projects that you want the world to know about!
PACE: I’m a non-binary, trans artist who is emotionally preoccupied with tenderness (and who it is afforded to). Through depictions of queer bodies and intimacy, I invite my viewers to be interrupted and to consider who they are with someone else’s language; to be held.
I feel wildly grateful that I participated in a few shows and sold a number of my pieces right before the pandemic hit my area, so right now I’m trying to be gentle with myself and my lack of creative inspiration while trying to use my skills and platform to give back to folks in my community. The most I’ve really been doing are these daily drawings that I’m selling on a sliding scale and donating half of the sales to Portland’s Covid-19 Mutual Aid Network fundraiser. I’ll also be in a show (probably virtually!) this June at Third Room Project alongside another non-binary artist, Francis Dot, and another group show in May at Tips on Failing that will likely be virtual as well.
What does Pride mean to you?
PACE: My relationship with the concept of Pride has evolved a lot over the years, and hopefully will continue to as our society’s understanding of queerness changes. Right now, Pride feels a lot like compassion. It feels a lot like mutual aid and listening. It also feels like humility and action. There are a lot of movements being bolstered by an influx of potential allies just waking up to injustices like class inequality or racial inequality due to the distress this pandemic is putting on people. As a white, middle-class queer person, I am most proud when I can show up for the people most affected by an unjust society.
In what ways are you active in the Portland LGBTQ+ community? What inspired you to do this?
PACE: The main way I’m active in the Portland LGBTQ+ community is through art-making and sharing. My work is for queer people and it’s about queer experiences, but I think anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality can connect to the sense of intimacy and nostalgia I cultivate in my drawings. Ultimately, my hope is that I’m creating a safe and affirming visual space for people to re-contextualize themselves.
I also participate in a number of fundraising and educational efforts that I’m privileged enough to be able to donate my art and time to.
Pace wears the Original Universal in Rainbow Pride.
In what ways has the community impacted you?
PACE: I’ve learned a lot about sharing. Whether it’s sharing information or resources or joy or intimacy, there’s a really easy exchange that happens.
What is something you wish others could learn from the community?
PACE: Well, I believe to be queer is to question. To question how you relate to yourself or to others, and I hope that others can learn a bit about self-reflection from this community of thoughtful people who are actively engaging with what it means to be human.
Teva is celebrating Pride with a contribution to It Gets Better Project, an organization that connects LGBTQ+ youth with older mentors. If you could tell one thing to your younger self, what would it be?
PACE: Embrace uncertainty. Not being sure about something is uncomfortable! It’s awful! But it can also lead to the most beautiful and affirming moments of growth. You might not be sure how you identify (whether it’s your gender or sexuality or so many other things!), but that’s okay because the best part is figuring out who you are and how you prefer to move through the world. I still don’t really know! And that’s okay.