art exhibitions

Fragment of wallpapered drywall, with hole in the center that reveals curlicued strips of colored paper inside.

Cut Up Cut Out

I have a soft spot for paper. While my hand was injured, I kept sane by sewing papers together with a sewing machine, and this show at Bellevue Art Museum, about all the ways you never thought to use cut paper, really spoke to me. I’ve been thinking about how to expand my paintings as

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Book cover for McGurk Mysteries, with 70s style cover art.

McGurk Mysteries

At my art opening the other night, I engaged in a rather mind-blowing conversation. While I was chatting with a visitor, he idly looked at my business card holder on the countertop, and kind of brushed his index finger along my name. Half to himself, he said he hadn’t heard that name since he was

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Terra cotta general, with emblematic hat and uniform, looks proudly into distance.

Terra Cotta Warriors

Picturing this exhibition of 8,000 clay statues, I imagined tabletop action figures, as far as the eye could see. Toy “army men” fashioned for grown-up royalty. But what was I thinking – royalty gets the royal treatment, after all – this army, whose purpose was to guard China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, during the

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Visitors studying paintings at art show.

Artist Donates 10% of Sales to OneOrlando Fund

On Capitol Hill, the acknowledged center of queer culture in Seattle, the Pulse Nightclub murders in Orlando on June 12 exacted a special toll. Most of Seattle’s gay clubs are located here, and rainbow flags and crosswalks dot the landscape, visually knitting together disparate businesses and corners of the neighborhood. Seattle’s generally liberal vibe may

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A smiling Maura McGurk holds certificate in front of blue ribbon-winning painting.

Maura McGurk Wins People’s Choice Award at City Hall Exhibition

The Federal Way City Council awarded painter Maura McGurk the People’s Choice Award at their council meeting Tuesday night, in recognition of her mixed media painting, Mia, Siena, Stripes. The work is part of the Arts Alive exhibition currently on view at City Hall. McGurk said that her main inspiration for the painting came from

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365 Days of Art: December 27 – NYC Mayor Doesn’t Understand Gorky’s Work

December 27, 1935 At the opening for a group exhibition that features one of Arshile Gorky’s sketches, for his airport mural, New York City Mayor Fiorella La Guardia meets Gorky, views his work, and tells a reporter: I am conservative in my art, as I am a progressive in my politics. That’s why I perhaps

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365 Days of Art: December 25 – Cornell Prefers His Exhibitions to Fall on Christmas

December 25 This is one of the most important dates on the calendar for Joseph Cornell, because he is born the day before, on December 24. His associations with happy childhood memories lead him to try to arrange all of his exhibitions to coincide with his birthday, and therefore, most of them fall on Christmas

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NYC landscape and architecture depicted from different viewpoints, including absurdist details like a large toilet on top of a column, with female figure, body parts in trash can and a dress on a hanger.

365 Days of Art: November 16 – Frida Writes a Letter from US, AIDS Exhibition Opens (Under Duress) After Grant Partially Restored

November 16, 1933 Frida writes a letter to her friend Isabel Campos that she is “dreaming about my return to Mexico:” New York is very pretty and I feel better here than in Detroit, but in spite of this I am longing for Mexico…Yesterday we had snow for the first time…there will be nothing to

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Organically abstract geometric shapes, some of which appear to have eyes, seem to cavort with more geometric shapes and lines.

365 Days of Art: November 10 – Frida and Diego Arrive in SF, NY Times Reports on Nazi Looting, Gorky Exhibits at the Whitney, Hockney Faxes an Artwork

November 10, 1930 Frida and Diego arrive in San Francisco, where he has mural commissions to work on. November 10, 1943 The New York Times reports “Unique Collection of Art Treasures Taken Away by Germans in Italy,” referring to the trucks carrying artwork for Goring’s birthday party. November 10, 1936 Arshile Gorky’s painting Organization is

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Framed by abstract sculpture, Peggy Guggenheim and Jackson Pollock stand in front of one of his paintings.

365 Days of Art: November 9 – Pollock’s First Solo Show Opens, John Meets Yoko at Gallery, Emma Thompson’s Journey Opens in NYC

November 9, 1943 Jackson Pollock’s first solo show opens at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery. He has not yet painted the dripping works for which he’ll be most famous. November 9, 1966 John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at her art opening at Indica Gallery in London. The work above impresses Lennon; after climbing

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365 Days of Art: November 6 – NEA Withdraws Grant for AIDS Exhibition

November 6, 1989 The New York Times reports that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has cancelled a grant for a show about AIDS, called Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing. The withdrawal of funds reportedly stems from an essay in the catalogue that criticizes two members of Congress and a cardinal of the Catholic church, for their

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Pollock stands on a large canvas unrolled in a field, among paint cans, crouching and concentrating, holding a paintbrush.

365 Days of Art: November 5 – Pollock Moves to Long Island, Obama Portrait Joins NYC Exhibition After Presidential Election

November 5, 1945 Jackson Pollock moves from New York City to Long Island, to a farmhouse in Springs. This is a shocking move at the time, since NYC is the center of the art world. The yard and barn where he keeps his studio become the backdrops for some of the most iconic Pollock moments:

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Ellen DeGeneres, posing in clown makeup, photographed by Annie Liebowitz.

365 Days of Art: October 30 – Hide/Seek Opens

October 30, 2010 Hide/Seek, the first major museum exhibition to explore themes of sexual identity in portraiture, opens at the National Portrait Gallery. More than 100 works of varying media by artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Jasper Johns, Annie Liebowitz, and Andy Warhol, are on display. The show not only explores the contributions of LGBTQ artists,

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Smiling Diego and Frida sign paperwork in front of witness.

365 Days of Art: October 24 – Frida Writes a Letter About Diego’s Affair, Bacon’s Love Commits Suicide

October 24, 1934 Frida writes to her pal and confidante, Dr. Eloesser: I have suffered so much in three months that it is going to be difficult for me to feel completely well soon but I have done everything I can to forget what happened between Diego and me [referring to his affair with her

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Bearded Vincent at easel, lovingly painting sunflowers outside.

365 Days of Art: October 23 – Gauguin Moves in with Vincent; Art Exhibition Takes on Chicago Mayor’s Brutality

October 23, 1888 Paul Gauguin arrives in Arles to live with Vincent van Gogh in the Yellow House. This is something Vincent has wanted for some time, but his dreams of an art community dissipate as he and Gauguin repeatedly clash. By the end of the fall, Gauguin moves out and Vincent infamously cuts off

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Stark shadows delineate the curving architecture of the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, against a crisp sky.

365 Days of Art: October 21 – Delacroix Writes to Brother About Patriotism, Guggenheim Museum Opens, Warhol Invites Self to Party at Leather Bar

October 21, 1830 Eugene Delacroix, who has been working on Liberty Leading the People, writes to his brother: My bad mood is vanishing thanks to hard work. I’ve embarked on a modern subject — a barricade. And if I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her.” October 21, 1959 The Solomon

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Man in toga, surrounded by lions, sits on stone slab in a patch of sunlight in a large room with no other sign of comfort.

365 Days of Art: October 19 – Henry Ossawa Tanner Wins French Art Award

October 19, 1900 Henry Ossawa Tanner, a Black painter who moved to France to escape American racial prejudice, wins the silver medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris for his painting Daniel in the Lions Den. He is one of Thomas Eakins’ all-time favorite students from their days at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine

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365 Days of Art: October 15 – Fascist Propaganda Discusses Artworks, Lee Krasner Has First Solo Show

October 15, 1943 Radio Rome provides this bit of Fascist propaganda: The first ships left Sicily for London today with precious works of art, some of which will go to the British Museum and some to private collections.” The idea is to create suspicion surrounding Americans interested in artworks (i.e., the Museum and Fine Arts

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365 Days of Art: September 27 – Munch Museum Celebrates Return of Damaged Paintings

September 27, 2006 Munch’s The Scream and Madonna go on view in a special five-day exhibition to celebrate their return to the Munch Museum–damages and all–after being stolen by masked gunmen two years earlier. Before conservation begins, 5,500 people view the damaged paintings.

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Ink sketches of birds flying, at three different angles.

365 Days of Art: September 22 – Leonardo Studies Birds, Michelangelo Seeks Payment, Artists Reject Pop Art Newcomer, Search Leads to Nazi Loot

September 22, 1507 Leonardo makes studies of birds in flight. September 22, 1510 Exactly halfway through painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo departs Florence, where he’d taken a break to visit his family, for Bologna to confront Pope Julius II about not being paid according to his contract. The two already have a long history

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Poster advertises the American Negro Exposition.

365 Days of Art: July 4 – American Negro Exposition Opens with Juried Art Show

July 4, 1940 The American Negro Exposition, with a national juried art exhibition, opens in Chicago and commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dioramas featuring highlights of 7,000 years of African and American history grace the Chicago Colisseum hallway. Murals reflect accomplishments by African Americans over the past 75 years. All but one

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Expressive, abstract painting by Willem de Kooning.

365 Days of Art: July 1 – De Kooning Begins Teaching, Lennon’s 1st Exhibition Opens, and A Crowd Protests Mapplethorpe’s Cancellation

July 1, 1948 Willem de Kooning begins teaching at Black Mountain College, an experimental art college near Asheville, North Carolina. Famous colleagues include Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham. July 1, 1968 John Lennon’s first art exhibition, with Yoko Ono, entitled You are Here, opens in London. July 1, 1989 On the

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Yayoi Kusama's dozens of phallus-shaped, polka-dotted sculptures on ground, reflected in multiple mirrors and repeated again and again.

365 Days of Art: June 27 – 15th Anniversary Exhibition Closes at Yokohama Museum of Art

June 27, 2004 The exhibition And or Versus: Adventures in Images, which is the 15th anniversary exhibition of the opening of the contemporary/modern Yokohama Museum of Art in Yokohama, Japan, closes. It features work by artists as varied as Salvador Dali, Richard Long, Yayoi Kusama, and Andy Warhol. The image above is from Kusama’s solo

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Several suitcases are placed near each other; one is opened to reveal it's packed with blocks of cheese.

365 Days of Art: June 11 – Dieter Roth Exhibition Receives Humorous Review

June 11, 1970 Dieter Roth’s first US exhibition receives a tongue-in-cheek review in the International Herald Tribune, which says that the gallery owner “will sell it to anyone with $21,000 and a bad cold.” The reason for the bad cold is that the exhibition stinks. Literally stinks. Inspired by an artist whose work Roth thinks

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A painting of a stylized goldfish against a dark background, by Paul Klee.

365 Days of Art: May 30 – Three Exhibitions Close at MoMA

May 30, 1937 Three exhibitions close at MoMA: Twelve Modern Paintings, featuring Paul Klee, Joan Miro, and Jean Arp, Prehistoric Rock Pictures, and a Cezanne show. Director Alfred Barr made comparisons between all three and saw the Modern and Prehistoric shows as companion pieces, sharing elements like primitive figures, scratched surfaces, and distorted scale and

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A painting of a picnic lunch in the forest, with men in suits and a nude woman.

365 Days of Art: May 15 – The Salon des Refusés Opens to the Public

May 15, 1863 The Salon des Refusés (literally, The Exhibition of Rejects), an exhibition of artwork rejected by the annual Paris Salon exhibition, opens to visitors. The exhibition is organized by Napoleon III to quiet his more vocal critics, and probably to prove to the public that they should have trusted the judgment of the

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A painting of a picnic lunch in the forest, with men in suits and a nude woman.

365 Days of Art: April 28 – Napoleon Issues Press Release About Planned Art Exhibition

April 28, 1863 Emperor Napoleon III issues a press release, regarding the planned Salon des Refusés (literally, Exhibition of the Rejected Ones): An exhibition will open on 15 May…Artists have until 7 May to withdraw their works…After this date works that have not been withdrawn will be placed on show. Here’s the backstory: This statement,

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Reclining Frida Kahlo is surrounded by people; some are excited, most seem concerned; a self-portrait is visible on the wall

365 Days of Art: April 13 – Ordered on Bed Rest, Frida Attends Her Solo Exhibition in Four Poster Bed

April 13, 1953 Advised by her doctors that she is too ill to attend the opening reception of her first solo show in Mexico, and that she needs to rest, Frida Kahlo transports her bed to the gallery and attends from there. She greets visitors from her four poster bed, situated in the middle of

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365 Days of Art: April 7 – Mapplethorpe Exhibition Opens, Leading to Obscenity Charges

April 7, 1990 An exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, entitled The Perfect Moment, opens at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center; within hours, the Center and its director, Dennis Barrie, are indicted on obscenity charges. I saw this exhibition when it traveled to the University Art Museum in Berkeley, CA. It was stunning, and at times shocking

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Organic abstract shapes, including circles and stripes, overlaps each other.

365 Days of Art: March 28 – Rothko Exhibits Multiform Paintings

March 28, 1949 Mark Rothko exhibits his so-called multiform paintings at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Though not as well-known or well-loved as his iconic three-threshhold paintings, they are by far my favorites. I wrote a paper once that theorized that they were inspired by Rothko’s love of opera, with the composition representing the stage, and

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Loose, surrealist painting by Arshile Gorky.

365 Days of Art: March 6 – Gallery Forgets to Mail Invites So Almost No One Attends Gorky’s Opening

March 6, 1945 The exhibition Arshile Gorky opens at the Julien Levy Gallery, featuring paintings created during the previous year, including How My Mother’s Embroidered Apron Unfolds in My Life. André Breton, who helped Gorky title the paintings, writes a glowing foreword for the catalogue. Here’s the kicker: because Levy had forgotten to mail out

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Impressionist painting of trees casting linear shadows across a path.

365 Days of Art: March 5 – Pissarro Complains to Manet, and Gorky Undergoes a Colostomy

There are two events today worth writing about. The first gives an inside look at the Impressionists, who are often thought of as a unit, rather than individuals with competing agendas. The second…I just feel bad for Arshile Gorky. He had a hard time. March 5, 1886 Camille Pissarro writes a passionate, desperate letter to

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Quiet, poignant abstract painting by Gorky.

365 Days of Art: March 1 – Plane Crashes; Arshile Gorky Artwork Destroyed

March 1, 1962 American Airlines Flight 1 crashes in Jamaica Bay, Queens about two minutes after takeoff. Ninety five people and fifteen abstract works by Arshile Gorky are aboard, all en route to Los Angeles. All crew and passengers are killed. The artwork, on its way to an exhibition is LA, is destroyed. This is

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Colorful and spiritual, Redon's painting features objects that resemble butterflies and sea anemones.

365 Days of Art: February 18 – Art Collector Buys Six Odilon Redon Works

February 18, 1909 Six works by Odilon Redon were sold to art collector Lillie Bliss at the Armory Show in New York. The works (Silence, Roger and Angelica, Le Petit Prelat, Druidesse, Pegasus and Le Jour) are mostly black and white prints or charcoal drawings from his early period. The painting above is more typical

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Joseph Cornell kneels down to speak to young children about his artwork.

365 Days of Art: February 11 – Joseph Cornell Holds Children’s Only Art Exhibition

February 11, 1972 Joseph Cornell holds a Children’s Only art exhibition, which opens at Cooper Union in New York City. Brownies and Cherry Coke were served instead of wine and cheese (Cornell actually had a huge sweet tooth; that might have been for him as much as for the kids). The art was hung three

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Sculpture of a bison with sharp, raised spine and easygoing attitude, walking toward viewer

365 Days of Art: February 5 – Ice Age Art (No Artifacts!) Exhibited at British Museum

February 5, 2013 Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind opened at the British Museum. The exhibition presented artwork (not archaeological artifacts) between 10,000 and 40,000 years old, created during the last Ice Age. The distinction between art and artifacts represented humans’ arrival at complex thought, as illustrated by an embrace of abstraction, symbolism,

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An autochrome photo portrait.

365 Days of Art: January 30 – Special Five-Day Photo Exhibition Closes to Keep Works from Fading

January 30, 2011 A special five-day exhibition of never-before-exhibited autochrome photographs, using low-oxygen enclosures to keep them from fading, closes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some background: what are autochromes? They’re photos made from a process that was developed in the early 20th century, transparent color images on glass that must be viewed either

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A long-horned animal skull and a white flower float over a desert landscape in a Georgia O'Keeffe painting.

365 Days of Art: January 21 – First Georgia O’Keeffe Retrospective Opens at the Art Institute of Chicago

January 21, 1943 The exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe Paintings 1915-1941 opens at the Art Institute of Chicago. It is O’Keeffe’s first museum retrospective. By the way, January 21 is a slow day in art history. Thank God for Georgia O’Keeffe at my favorite museum, or I would’ve been stuck talking about Jeff Koons today. Yecccch.

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President Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and others stand underneath the Mona Lisa, on special loan in the United States.

365 Days of Art – January 8: Mona Lisa, on Loan, Unveiled in US

January 8, 1963 The Mona Lisa, on loan from the Louvre, is unveiled at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in a star-studded opening reception. The exhibition was made possible almost entirely due to the efforts of Jackie Kennedy, the First Lady. The Kennedys, and especially Jackie, brought a well-known love of art

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Maura McGurk Featured in “At the Edge” Magazine

The premier issue of At the Edge magazine, an independent art publication which focuses on emerging artists in New York City, features artist Maura McGurk and her crusade against gay bullying. The article discusses McGurk’s July 2011 solo exhibition, entitled Lavender Menace: Paintings by Maura McGurk in Response to Gay Bullying. The paintings in the

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The Puzzle Pieces Were a Hit!

If you read my earlier post which explained the story behind the puzzle pieces, you know that I considered this an experimental piece…after all, I don’t usually make interactive pieces or installations. The idea was to create something visually interesting (as always), something that would advance the cause of drawing attention to–and stopping–gay bullying, and

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Lavender Menace Opening

The opening reception of Lavender Menace: Paintings by Maura McGurk in Response to Gay Bullying was a success! I was honored to have so many people in attendance; despite monsoon-like conditions, the gallery was full of steady foot traffic all night. Among the first visitors were mentors and mentees of True Colors, a non-profit organization

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The Abraham Lincoln Situation: Goodbye Abe, We’ll Miss You

The two alternative Abraham Lincoln exhibitions–Enabled and The Lincoln Orphans–were the best of the Lincoln shows in Norwich during the month of May. They proved it again this past weekend, as a joyful and fun-loving spirit fueled the closing reception for the shows. The trio of Elanah Sherman, Dan Topalis, and Grippo organized, managed, and

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The Abraham Lincoln Saga: Abe Resurfaces in Norwich at Opening Receptions!

A spirit of camaraderie and light-hearted fun prevailed at the openings of Enabled: The Lincoln Portrait Show that Tells Artists: Do What You Want! and The Lincoln Orphans Exhibit: Giving a Home to the Excluded Portraits! in Norwich, CT on First Friday. Elanah Sherman, organizer of both shows, personally escorted groups between the floating receptions.

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A line of artists march down a city sidewalk, each while carrying their large portrait of Abraham Lincoln

Maura McGurk Blog Featured in The New London Day

Maura McGurk’s blog regarding the Lincoln portrait contest sponsored by the Slater Museum is quoted extensively in The New London Day. The Day reveals the backlash among the contest entrants, the artistic community, and citizens of Norwich, CT regarding so-called “unethical” practices in the portrait judging. Lincoln artists cry foul, by Claire Bessette, The Day

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Museum Reneges on Promise to Exhibit All Lincoln Portraits–What Would Honest Abe Say?

This Abraham Lincoln portrait, painted by Norwich, CT local son John Denison Crocker, was ripped from its frame in City Hall in 1994. The Slater Museum and the City of Norwich sponsored a contest with a purchase prize for the best copy of the original portrait. Although I’m normally an abstract painter, I thought it

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Maura McGurk’s First Solo Show: Pride and Prejudice, An Exhibition on Gay Bullying

Maura McGurk’s first solo exhibition will feature paintings created in response to gay bullying. McGurk began this body of work in fall of 2010, on the heels of several suicides by teenaged boys who had been bullied by classmates. These suicides were well-publicized due to their sheer number and proximity in time: five suicides in

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