Out/Loud: Queer Storytelling

July 7, 2023 |

Wyatt Nestor-Pasicznyk, Minotaur Brooch series, 2021. Left to right: Self Saved, My Body is a Maze, Self Made, Euphoric. Champlevé enamel on gold plated copper, spring steel, Approx. 3½ x 2½ in. each. Photo by the artist.
Wyatt Nestor-Pasicznyk, Minotaur Brooch series, 2021. Left to right: Self Saved, My Body is a Maze, Self Made, Euphoric. Champlevé enamel on gold plated copper, spring steel, Approx. 3½ x 2½ in. each. Photo by the artist.
Jackie Andrews

Jackie Andrews

Jackie Andrews is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and arts administrator based in rural Maryland. They currently work as a grant writer and development professional for several artists and arts nonprofits across the United States. (@jackiegemcreative)


Out/Loud investigates shared visual language in the queer community through the lens of adornment. The artists in this series are multidisciplinary and varied, exploring queerness, gender, and identity and interpreting adornment broadly through surface embellishments, color palettes, and engaging the body through installations, sculpture, and wearable objects and costuming. Each installment will explore a singular aspect or theme of queer aesthetics. The resulting works are celebratory, exuberant, defiant, and inquisitive—they pose questions about the politics of bodies and how we express ourselves; they disregard rules and examine the privilege, complexity, and danger that comes with visibility; and they imagine queer futures.


As I was drafting this installment of Out/Loud, the Respect for Marriage Act was signed into law on December 13, 2022. The landmark legislation provides nationwide federal protection for same-sex and interracial couples and ensures that no future Supreme Court rulings can remove the crucial civil rights it affords. This historic and monumental victory for the queer community—for many—comes as a relief following the catastrophic overturn of Roe v. Wade on June 24.

Beyond the initial influx of celebratory news articles and political reporting—and the personal joy and relief I felt—what struck me most as I scrolled through my Instagram feed was not the sense of celebration from queer friends, loved ones, acquaintances, and community forums; those, I expected. What most inspired me was the sense of resolute dedication I found in the community response: the countless assertions that this legislation merely reaffirmed their pride in, commitment to, and love for their identities and relationships. It supported what they already knew—that their queer families are sacred.

The queer communities are worlds defined by chosen family and community care; they are boundlessly resilient, undeterred by hardship, defiant and endlessly imaginative. Queer history is built on the stories of those who have shaped the movement—activists, creators, and community leaders whose work to build a world that reflects them continues to this day. Queerness invites that kind of reinvention and re-envisioning; it also invites stewardship and storytelling for future generations.

The artists in this installment are some of those storytellers and worldbuilders—each with powerful, transformative visions.

Margo Csipő’s practice is a marriage of adornment and illustration, drawing inspiration from narrative-based art forms, including animation, graphic novels, and Eastern European folktales (a reference to Csipő’s Hungarian heritage). Csipő (she/they) often works with mother of pearl, which—taking cues from scrimshaw bone carving—provides a blank page for them to explore, invent, and carve the stories they want to share with others. She describes her narrative interests in her artist statement: “I craft tales that seek the answers to questions that the culture I grew up in failed to supply me with. My tales are tools of self-discovery and affirmation.”1 Csipő cites “the voids between these anecdotes”—the stories left out of the mainstream societal narratives—as a fascination of hers and inspiration for her work.

Margo Csipő, Know Yourself at Every Age, 2021. Sterling silver, mother of pearl, acrylic rod, silk thread, pigmented ink, wax, lacquer, 4 x 16 x ½ in. Photo: Elliot Keeley

The narrative focus of Csipő’s work, combined with their signature vibrant color palette and delicate line quality results in pieces that feel distinctly inviting. Assembled with a system of carefully constructed silver settings, each carved illustration has its own frame, mirroring the sequential narrative structure of a graphic novel. In works like A Hook and an Eye and Know Yourself at Every Age, Csipő’s illustrations often feel quietly contemplative, focused with a softened gaze on small, human moments—like fastening an item of clothing or plucking a dandelion from the grass—that are often seemingly metaphorical. In some instances, the euphemistic nature of the visual imagery is counterbalanced by a powerfully direct title; such is the case with Sapphic Voyeur, a cleverly constructed brooch that acts as a queer take on a pocket image viewer. The work is approachable, yet intimate.

In focusing on such minute, ephemeral aspects of human experience, Csipő manages to strike a balance between universality and specificity, honoring the queer experience, both for themselves and others. “The reality I write is not one of strife,” she asserts, “and my narratives can reach resolutions of unity, closeness, and tenderness—affirmations of my own reality.”

The commitment to celebration and visibility of complex queer identities is shared by Wyatt Nestor-Pasicznyk (he/him), a metalsmith with a technical focus in enameling. Nestor-Pasicznyk’s work is influenced by the aesthetics of the rural American wilderness, American Western imagery, and folk art, and his agricultural and equestrian upbringing in a rural, small town inspires much of the visual language of his work. And though his body of work is wide ranging, the belt buckle is a recurrent form—one with a wealth of gender stereotypes and cultural implications that Nestor-Pasicznyk reckons with powerfully. Examples include Day Rider, Touch Up, and Fever Dream. In his artist statement, he describes the appeal of the belt buckle as both a format and a conceptual jumping off point in that he creates “characterizations of narration in a form of body adornment so often masculinized and tied to rural identity and normativity…. As a queer and trans masculine person who is often assumed to be cisgender, the interaction of my own body in a comfortable yet unprecedented atmosphere comes into play.”2

Beyond the implications of the adornment forms themselves, Nestor-Pasicznyk further unpacks gender stereotypes and expressions in the imagery he creates and the stories they tell, demonstrating their applicability “to fit a different narrative that pertains to transgender people as both makers and artists.” By reimagining these narratives, it is Nestor-Pasicznyk’s intention to bring more recognition and visibility to rural queer communities and to the complexities of their members.

Wyatt Nestor-Pasicznyk, Minotaur Brooch series, 2021. Left to right: Self Saved, My Body is a Maze, Self Made, Euphoric. Champlevé enamel on gold plated copper, spring steel, Approx. 3½ x 2½ in. each. Photo by the artist.

When translated into meticulously detailed enameled scenes and characters in his signature illustrative style, the idiosyncrasies of Nestor-Pasicznyk’s varied visual interests read as both richly layered and cohesive. Combining aspects of Western imagery with depictions of mythical creatures, Nestor-Pasicznyk ascribes a sense of folkloric mythology to the experience of being a trans or gender-nonconforming person in a culture that is historically inhospitable to diversity of gender expression. In pieces like their Minotaur Brooch series, including Self Saved, My Body is a Maze, Self Made, and Euphoric, Nestor-Pasicznyk manages to create clever visual metaphors and imagery hybridizations that are intriguing and simultaneously whimsical yet profound. Nestor-Pasicznyk invites viewers to embrace being “self-made”—to reimagine our own histories and identities, and envision a future that reflects our true selves.

For Sol Diaz, that future is Indigenous. The jeweler behind the brand Soelia and a cofounder of Queer Metalsmiths, Diaz (they/them) describes the primary inspirations behind their work: “Indigenous futurism, which envisions what my Mayan ancestors from Honduras would wear in a future where colonialism never took place; and spirals, which reflect the different cycles/states within my inner being.”3

Often taking form as kinetic headpieces, amulets, and talismanic adornments, Diaz’s work presents a dynamic balance of two central visual concepts: traditional handcraft and science fiction. Diaz endeavors to create jewelry pieces that combine function with “an energetic connection to nature during sacred ceremonies.”4
The resulting works, such as Ancestral Vision, Futurism Mask, feel elegantly reverent, yet playful.


Sol Diaz, Ancestral Vision, Futurism Mask, 2021. Sterling silver, Dimensions variable, Photo by the artist.

With settings in patinated and polished silver, Diaz gives materials like abalone, baroque pearl, and Swarovski crystal a mystical, even otherworldly quality. As seen in pieces like Insight, Foresight, Third Eye Necklace and Vision Ring, third eyes and other mystic, protective symbols are recurrent forms in Diaz’s work. Across formats, their jewelry invites possibility—the possibilities of an open mind, an expansive vision, or even a portal into the future Diaz imagines.

Sol Diaz, Vision Ring, 2021. Sterling silver, abalone, Photo by the artist.

The possibilities of futurism also abound in the work of Qil Jones (they/them), a self-described “facecrafter” and the visionary behind BLACKMARZIAN. For Jones, BLACKMARZIAN is defined by four core concepts: “processing Black myths of dreaming, glitching, worldbuilding, and liberating.”5

The distinctive facial adornments of BLACKMARZIAN’s Ti AMENDMENT Collection are some of Jones’s most compelling works; each “reinitializes the symbolic headcrest format with pure titanium components.” The headcrests are modeled after Afro combs, held in place via zigzag tines. In works like Pennybandit Face, the precision and intricacy of Jones’s designs trace the topography of the face so seamlessly they almost appear tattooed on.

For Jones, the wearer’s face is far from a blank canvas: “A face is a tool…. It can be used to create myth and live in it too,” Jones explains in their artist statement. “With this understanding, I retool faces with useful aspects of metal. I leave it to (you) to make it purposeful. I leave it to (you) to make it personal.”6

Qil Jones, pennybandit face, 2022. Aluminum, copper penny, nylon paracord, aluminum rivets, 127 x 65 x 60 mm. Photo (left): DeeDee @deedeebebad; Photo (right) by the artist.


Qil Jones, blackspore headcrest, 2021. Titanium, copper, obsidian, aluminum rivets, 105 x 41 x 28 mm. Photo: Arely Marisol Peña @arelymarisolpena.

Crafted using a combination of digital illustrations and CNC-milled sheet metal, and hand-finished with occasional stone settings, the digital-to-hand fabrication of BLACKMARZIAN designs acts as a conduit for Jones’s conceptual interests. The digital-handcraft hybridization of Jones’s process is a clever extension of their recent studio explorations in folklore and Afropresentism (an emerging genre that explores an Afrofuturist lived reality).7

Creating work with varied approaches and mediums, Csipő, Nestor-Pasicznyk, Diaz, and Jones give us comfort and courage with their work. They remind us to appreciate small moments of beauty and resilience. They encourage us to be stewards of our heritage, and to celebrate and care for our communities. They invite us into portals to unknown worlds and new dimensions, and give us the tools to build the futures we imagine. With their guidance, we realize: we each can be storytellers and worldbuilders, too.



1. [All Margo Csipő quotes from artist statement, https://margocsipo.com/about.]

2. [All Wyatt Nestor-Pasicznyk quotes from artist statement, https://www.wyattnp.com/blog.]

3. [Sol Diaz profile, Queer Metalsmiths, https://www.queermetalsmiths.com/sol-diaz-portfolio.]

4. [Sol Diaz, “How Soelia Was Born,” https://soelianyc.com/pages/how-soelia-was-born.]

5. [“FAQ,” BLACKMARZIAN, https://blackmarzian.com/faq.]

6. [“About,” BLACKMARZIAN, https://blackmarzian.com/about.]

7. [“Afropresentism” as an emerging ideology within Afrofuturism. The term is attributed to Yale scholar Neema Githere, a self-described “artist and guerrilla theorist based in the #digitaldiaspora.” Githere coins the term as “a digital genre fusing archival, fine art, documentary practices on and through new media, in the expression of an Afrofuturist lived reality.” Tobi Onabolu, Afropresentism: Black Presence in the Diaspora (2018), https://tobionabolu.com/afropresentism-1; Neema Githere, https://www.findingneema.online. ]

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