Spark to a Flame: $pread Art Show

Show Install & Curators Statement

Spark to a Flame is an art show celebrating and commemorating the artists and impact of $pread Magazine, a publication by and for people in the sex industry and allies. These illustrations, photos and videos aim to do one thing which $pread was noted for: give platform to the complex voices of an incredibly diverse marginalized community.

20150216_171603The art in this show is a scratch on the surface of visual art made by and for sex workers. It is not meant to be indicative of a genre. The majority of this art is past and current work from artists who contributed to $pread Magazine, and a few others whose work relates to the politicized and personal voice $pread cultivated.

Curating Spark to a Flame came from an interest to showcase the visual aspects of $pread Magazine. As done in generating the content of the magazine, I asked widely, “Who is a sex worker artist everyone should know about?” Reaching out among artists, community organizers, and workers led to visual, video, performance, and community art. Within the confines of a gallery we can showcase two-dimensional art; so video art stills are mixed with high-art prints and illustration to give a fuller representation of the work collected.

Spark to a Flame is not representative of sex workers as a totality; I’m not quite sure what collection could do that. The seven-year-long quarterly publication run of $pread comes as close as anything might by sheer fact of persistence, volume and diversity of viewpoint, content, geography, individuals, and communities. That said, there is no art show or publication broad and big enough to be exactly as diverse as the community of people who fall under the broad [red] umbrella of sex workers. Further, there are few facts to shed light on exactly who the totality of that community is. For an industry globally and historically recognized to exist yet to be so covered in stereotyping and secrecy is to comment on the community by lack. $pread aimed to fill in some of this missing data.

Spark to a Flame does not have some artists for pertinent material reasons: one woman of color artist felt the risk of association with sex workers was too much for her to bear; another male transgender artist was too busy hustling. Opening the question of who has the capacity to create cultural work directs us to consider critical questions about access, intersectional oppression, and dominant narratives. In viewing any collection, including this one, I ask you to consider who might not be in the room and why – and then to apply the weight and difficulty of participation to your appreciation of the art and work you are experiencing.

20150216_172614We are incredibly grateful to the artists: Morgan Page, Xandra Ibarra/Chica Boom, The Incredible Edible Akynos, and Ofelia del Corazón for video art, and for the visual art by Fly Orr, Molly Crabapple, Hawk Kinkaid and Cristy C. Road. Magazine covers, contributed illustrations, ephemera and a few interiors are also included in this show. Thanks as well to Dixon Place and the LMCC for material support.

$pread: The Best of the Magazine that Illuminated the Sex Industry and Started a Media Revolution, edited by Rachel Aimee, Eliyanna Kaiser, and Audacia Ray || More at: