Artist Devan Shimoyama Puts Glitter All Over Toxic Masculinity

March 18, 2019

When Devan Shimoyama was creating Sit Still, a self-portrait in his game-changing Devan Shimoyama: Cry, Baby exhibition at The Andy Warhol Museum, he drew upon his first experiences as a young, queer Black kid in a barbershop. The piece depicts his body, adorned with feathers, a beard of glitter, tears of jewels, and a straight razor approaching his cheek — with a customary assortment of products in the background. “I remember being uncomfortable, shifting a little bit, and getting reprimanded and told to sit still. I got upset and started crying,” the 29-year-old artist shares. “[The work] put me back into that situation, ruminating on that moment, and thinking about how it reinforced these notions of masculinity and disassociation from emotion and sensitivity.”

The painting is just one of many in the Pittsburgh-based visual artist’s debut solo museum exhibition, but it perfectly encapsulates the complicated relationship that some Black queer men have with masculinity — and the Black community’s construction of it. In fact, the Black barbershop section (as Shimoyama refers to it) was born from a conversation he had with two of his close friends: “We all empathized with each other about the experience of having to re-enter the closet in those spaces to really get a good haircut,” Shimoyama says. “What’s also really difficult is that, in Black barbershops, there’s a certain type of masculinity that’s typically performed … It can be homophobic and misogynistic.”

Read more at Out Magazine