Kansas Artist Joseph Keehn, II will display his original artworks at the Miller Nichols Library this summer.
Keehn’s artworks is based on third spaces, places where people spend their “third-most” amount of time. Work and home are often the first two spaces. Grounded in performance and queer culture, Keehn examines the notions of place, asking how public areas such as bars, libraries and parks act as third, shared spaces for his gay community.
Audio recordings, displayed as children’s board books, of queer discussions in bars in the greater Kansas City area are motion activated by patrons walking by in the stacks of the Miller Nichols Library. An original score of Heartland Men’s Chorus members’ voices inspired by the once “cruising loop” of Liberty Memorial Park, plays as patrons walk out of the second floor elevator. While listening to the audio mash-up, patrons are invited to share their stories by responding to the prompt “I realized ‘it’ mattered when…” These responses are added to a book that is also on view.
Keehn’s investigation of third places has its underpinnings from a previous site-specific project, “An Otherwise Hopeless Evening,” that revealed a history of queer culture that has been silenced in the Greater Kansas City region. Continuing to foster existing relationships and develop new ones in the LGBTQIA community with support from the Heartland Men’s Chorus, Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America and the gay performing community, “A Mystic Bond of Brotherhood Makes All Men One” further advances the queer art movement in the Kansas City region.
Each installation of “A Mystic Bond of Brotherhood Makes All Men One” is site-specific, responding to each participating library’s community and mirroring the complexity and metamorphosis of the journey from the homophile experience of the 1940s to the lesbian, gay, genderqueer, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, ally and asexual one today.
A closing reception/meet the artist event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Aug. 27 in Miller Nichols Library Room 202 A. This reception is free and open to the public.
Keehn is an artist, curator, and writer, born and raised in Topeka, Kansas. His conceptually driven projects have combined text, images, videos and performances to address issues of conventional norms, history and power structures. Keehn’s projects are often temporal and site-specific, residing in an intentional place for a particular reason.
Support for this work is provided by a Rocket Grants project award, a program of the Charlotte Street Foundation, and the University of Kansas Spencer Museum of Art. Funding is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. For more information about this event, contact