© 2018 Contemporary Art Toledo  |  425 Jefferson, Suite 906 ,  Toledo, Ohio  43604

419-441-4025  info@CAtoledo.org


June 15 - August 5, 2018


Colton Clifford

Sarah Fischer

Robert Fitzgerald

Troy Hoffman

John Paul Morabito

Stephen Owczarzak

Rowan Renee

Zachariah Szabo

David Wojnarowicz


Contemporary Art Toledo is honored to present Pretty Queer, an exhibition of works created by nine artists who actively explore issues of identity, politics, history, and kitsch.  Through thoughtful marks, materials, color, and form, these artists celebrate, interrogate, and challenge heteronormative perspectives of contemporary life.  


Pretty Queer recognizes the important role and space that queer individuals inhabit in our culture while also offering a platform for artists to engage the public. 


This exhibition coincides with national Pride Month, an annual celebration marking the Stonewall riots of 1969, a watershed moment in LGBTQ rights in the U.S.


about the artists


Colton Clifford explores the objectification and the fetishization of the gay male body by deconstructing the heteronormative and reconstructing a “fantasized domestic landscape where the taboos of queer culture can find euphoria.” Born in Houston, Texas in 1991, Clifford was brought up in the deep south but raised by a mother and father of the north. He graduated in 2015 with his BFA in Photography from Sam Houston State University and, in 2018, received his MFA in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Michigan.


Sarah Fischer (pronouns: they/them/their) is an artist-ornithologist whose work incorporates ecological research to broadly explore under-representation and gender identity. Their prints and drawings have been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Sarah has a BFA in printmaking and a BS in biology from Ball State University, and they are currently a graduate student at the University of Toledo studying the annual life cycle of the Gray Vireo (Vireo vicinior), a migratory southwestern songbird.  


Robert Fitzgerald poses questions that intend to both challenge and explore the continuous ways in which we define masculinity. Born in Connecticut, Robert Fitzgerald holds degrees in Urban Planning from Cornell University and Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art. From 2004 to 2006, he worked in HIV outreach and care with the U.S. Peace Corps in Kenya and later in arts education for Baltimore City Schools. He is a 2018 MFA graduate from the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan where he served as the school’s first Paul D. Coverdell RPCV Fellow.

Troy Hoffman’s work centers around queer theory, gender identity and queer community — both its possibilities and challenges. Born in farm country Ohio, Hoffman is a former Boy Scout, altar server, and Golden Glove recipient.  Troy holds a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Based in Detroit, his work has been shown in Berlin, Chicago, Kansas City, and County Clare, Ireland.   


John Paul Morabito re-locates queerness within the cosmology of Italian Catholicism and through the orthodoxy of the loom. The Chicago-based artist and educator merges contemporary art with hand weaving. He has exhibited extensively internationally and domestically, including Document, Chicago, Illinois; Material Art Fair, Mexico City, Mexico; Design Miami/Basel, Basel, Switzerland; Dorksy Gallery Curatorial Projects, Long Island City, New York; The Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, Asheville, North Carolina;  Collections include the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, Montreal, Canada. He holds a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Morabito is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Fiber and Material Studies and Weaving Area Coordinator at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Stephen Owczarzak’s (pronouns: they/them/their) recent work revolves around concepts relating to identity, inevitability, and the excavation of self. Based in northwest Ohio, having received their BFA from the University of Toledo in 3D Studies, Stephen creates objects to evoke the body and explore the individual therein.


Rowan Renee (pronouns: they/them/there) is a genderqueer artist whose work explores violence at the intersections of homophobia and misogyny. Renee has received awards from The Aaron Siskind Foundation, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation, and The Anchorage Museum of Art. Previous solo exhibitions include Z at Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation (2015) and Bodies of Wood (2017) at The Aperture Foundation. They have received fellowships from The Jerome Foundation, the McColl Center for Visual Art and the Ossian Arts Fellowship at the Jain Family Institute. They have been profiled on NPR, in The New York Times, VICE, Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, American Photo Magazine, and Guernica, among many other publications. They are currently living between Brooklyn, New York and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Zachariah Szabo uses photography and sculpture to examine personal identity, loss, reference and subculture. As a native of the Midwest (Richfield, Ohio) and a former competitive figure skater as well as dancer, he uses visual cues from the early 1980s and mid-1990s to compose images and installations, often provoking thoughts of nostalgia and memory. Szabo received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2013. He currently works and resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


David Wojnarowicz’s art investigates the benefits and challenges of acknowledging one’s differences from heteronormative realities. By injecting signs of otherness into appropriations of what he calls “the pre-invented world,” the artist deploys a “queer’s X-ray vision” to shift the terms of engagement that “control diversity and silence it,” in the words of Lucy Lippard. Born in 1954, in Red Bank, New Jersey, Wojnarowicz moved to Manhattan, attending the High School of Music and Art. Earning no more than a GED, he proved a consummate auto-didact and prolific creative agent who died prematurely, at the age of 37, of AIDS-related illnesses. Wojnoarowicz is the subject of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York beginning July, 2018.