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From Bad to Beautiful

Queer sculptor Damon Thomas creates art in the face of adversity.

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Damon Thomas’ Dreaming

LGBTQ themes are abundant in a Museum District art exhibit opening Saturday, September 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. at The Jung Center.

Continuing through September 29, the exhibit, entitled Ancestors, will feature mixed-media sculptures by Houston’s enormously talented LGBTQ artist Damon Thomas.

Kissing Clowns, a duo of identical busts leaning toward one another with their lips nearly touching, was inspired by a homophobic remark Thomas overheard in a theater while watching Bohemian Rhapsody earlier this year.

During the scene where Freddie Mercury receives his first kiss from a man, an older woman sitting behind Thomas shouted, “Yuck!” However, later in the movie, as Mercury was clowning around onstage, the woman put her homophobia on hold and laughed along with everyone else.

Damon Thomas

“I had decided that if the woman made another homophobic comment, I was going to suggest that she not attend movies with gay characters in the future,” the normally soft-spoken Thomas explains. “She remained quiet, but the episode made me think about how some [people think] it’s OK for LGBTQ characters to be clowns, as long as we don’t display our full humanity—especially our sexuality.”

Thomas decided to turn that negative into something positive by creating Kissing Clowns. Because the clowns are identical, the art can also be seen as a statement about self-love—something he believes the LGBTQ community needs to embrace.

Another of Thomas’ sculptures on display is Dreaming (above). Here, 3-D images hover above a sleeping figure, with kite strings anchoring the images to the individual. Viewers will find the piece both soothing and haunting at the same time.

“Some of the works in this show are a direct result of my years in Jungian analysis,” Thomas explains, “analysis that helped transform my life and lead me to art. Dreams are important in Jungian therapy. A dream is a meaningful symbol if you honor and listen to it, and spend some time thinking about what it means.

“This sculpture is one of my ways of interpreting the images and ideas that ‘float’ above our heads and our consciousness as we sleep,“ Thomas concludes.

While not all of Thomas’ sculptures involve LGBTQ issues, they all explore the emotional and psychological range of the human condition—a theme present in Thomas’ work for more than a decade.

All the pieces displayed at The Jung Center will be available for purchase.

To see more of Thomas’ work, go to damonthomasart.com.

What: Art exhibition by LGBTQ artist Damon Thomas
When: Sept. 7 through 27, with opening reception Sept. 7, 5–8 p.m.
Where: The Jung Center, 5200 Montrose Blvd.

This article appears in the September 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Kim Hogstrom

Kim Hogstrom is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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