Slugs Are Queer Icons – Jax Stienstra

Slugs Are Queer Icons – Jax Stienstra

Slugs Are Queer Icons – Jax Stienstra

As a queer, non-binary artist I have always connected with things some people find “odd or eccentric.” One of the things I have always connected myself with is slugs and snails. As a child and teenager, I would hunt for them and keep them as pets (releasing them the same day).

There was something about them that fascinated me and still does to this day. In my first four years at university, I realized that the topics I was making art about were not fulfilling me, so I decided to try something different. I made wax slugs to be poured into bronze. I spent all of my free time at the university making my 48 bronze slugs. I have always thrown myself into art-making but it was different this time… It was all I was thinking about. At first, I did not know why I wanted to make slugs, but I just kept making them.

When I researched them more my concept around them started to form. I studied the anatomy of slugs, researched their habitats, what they eat, how they reproduce, different species of slugs and how they have been viewed in an art-historical sense. While doing research I found out that most slugs are dimorphic hermaphrodites which means they have both male and female genitalia, some species of slugs can reproduce asexually. Once I found that most slugs don’t have a set gender or sex, I needed to incorporate queer identities because they do not fit into the binary of male or female. In Dutch still, life paintings from the 17th-century slugs and snails are symbolized as memento mori symbols, to remind the viewer about the inevitability of death. I was exploring a relationship between slugs art historical context and current western views of the gender binary and sexuality. Slugs to me are a contemporary symbol for memento mori of society’s binary thinking of sexuality and gender.

Bio:

Jax Stienstra (they/them) is a non-binary artist from Cochrane Alberta. The mediums they work with are, acrylic paint, clay, resin, drawing materials and bronze. They have had their artwork exhibited in the niche gallery, the University of Lethbridge and at the Landmarks exhibition of 2019. Jax has worked as the designer for The Meliorist, the student publication at the University of Lethbridge. They own a small business, CuteButDeadlyCo selling their art and various crafts.

Series:Gallery Exhibition

Date:April 16, 2022  -  June 4, 2022

Location:Casa - Project Space

Cover of the Fall 2022 Casa Program Guide in brick orange with and illustration of pumpkins, leaves and a chickadee.

Casa Program Guide

The Casa Program Guide is produced three times a year; Winter, Spring/Summer and Fall. Inside the guide find listings for the upcoming class and workshop schedule, upcoming exhibitions at The Gallery, information about artists in residence and seasonal events in the building. Program guides are free. Pick-up guides at Casa or at facilities throughout the city.