Ethan J Lausen; Self Reflecting, Loving Yourself Can Be So Difficult; 2020; Etching, aquatint, & chine-collé.
Ethan J Lauesen’s body of work focuses on the cultural aspects of gender and LGBTQIA+ identity and how they are perceived in communities, specifically interior Alaska. The work they produce is more intimate as a response to cultural perceptions of themselves, inter-sectional issues of race, gender, and sexuality and as a result the prints, paintings, and drawings created represent a personal narrative documenting cultural change. Lauesen earned their BFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. They are a recipient of the Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award and were the CIRI Foundation visual artist-in-residence at the Anchorage Museum.
The topics of intersectionality, community, and identity acceptance are core themes of Lauesen’s work. The work directly references the emotions associated with identity and the experiences of doubt, otherwise a lack of acceptance. To achieve this effect, they often incorporate figurative distortions, adding disconcerting elements into the figures, obscuring facial features, creating repetition of specific anatomical features as well as the entire figure itself. The premise behind the figurative distortions is to create an effect of emotional transference that alludes to the experience of identity rejection. There is emphasis on a strong sense of place and the activities, routines, and culture that is associated with the city and rural scapes, places that tend to resonate with their conscience and memory. Essentially the work is an autobiographical, visual narrative that compiles day-to-day experiences through intersectional context from relationships, community interaction, to identity acceptance and development.
The moment I found my voice through my work, I began to strive for imagery with an intimate narrative that would have an impact within my communities.
—Ethan J Lauesen (Denaakk’e Koyukon Athabaskan, Ahtna Athabaskan, Tlingit [Sukteeneidi – Raven Dog Salmon Clan])
Lauesen’s LIFT project, For Your Comfort, will develop a body of works around identity and perception, focusing on their experiences as a visibly queer, Alaskan Native. The project will draw attention to discrimination faced by LGBTQIA2+ Indigenous people in public spaces. The work will reference the tension and uneasiness that visibly queer, Indigenous people face daily by compositing figurative distortions with places that resonate with their memories, experiences, and dreams. The collection of intaglio prints will be exhibited at galleries in Anchorage and Fairbanks. The exhibitions will be accompanied by an artist talk detailing the technical processes and conceptual development of the work.