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Art event explores the queerness of nature

Minnesota Environmental Justice Table staff at work in community (Photo courtesy of MEJT)

The Minnesota Environmental Justice Table is presenting “Unleashing Our Nature,” a collaging workshop hosted by Nell Pierce. The event uses collage to explore queer and indigenous identity in nature.

Communications Coordinator Charles Frempong-Longdon says the inspiration for the event came in part from his own experience with environmental poetry, where he recognized that BIPOC communities’ outlook on nature differed from their white counterparts.

“Indigenous cultures all across the world really talk about nature as this thing that is inherently attached to us. Like, there's a relationship and a togetherness there. And a connection and an identity that has formed between each other, that's reciprocal,” said Frempong-Longdon. “White people tend to write about nature as this feminine thing that we, as human beings, have the power to control and save. It's not our responsibility to save nature. It's our responsibility to save ourselves.”

Frempong-Longdon says nature is inherently queer. He says the categorization of masculine and feminine amongst all living things is rooted in white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity. As a result, Frempong-Longdon says it has restricted our sense of self in relation to nature.

“I grew up in a city environment. And so when it came to understanding nature, a big part of it was formulating this self reflective question of like, what does it mean to manifest your culture in physical space as a way of defining what environmental justice is. Because oftentimes, when I was younger, it was pitched to me as the forest and the woods and the lakes and stuff like that. Which it is, but it's also so much more. I think the binaries that we try to place on identity are also placed in nature as a way of restricting and creating parameters on it. We're hoping to uncouple that.”

The event takes place today, June 24, from 4pm-6pm at Public Functionary in the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis. Admission is free.


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