Artists explore the meaning of home through the lens of queer and trans domesticity in New York

Group exhibition ‘Dreaming of Home’, at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, uses a seminal Catherine Opie photograph as a springboard to explore the meaning of home today

painting of man on bed reading to children, from New York exhibition exploring the meaning of home
Nicole Eisenman
(Image credit: Nicole Eisenman)

What is home – a concept, a physical space, a person, a feeling? It is a question preoccupying artists in New York, who consider the meaning of home through the lens of queer and trans domesticity in a new group exhibition ‘Dreaming of Home’ at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art.

The show takes Catherine Opie’s seminal 1993 photograph Self-Portrait/Cutting (below) as its central reference, marking its 30th anniversary in an exploration of the ways artists are carving out space for themselves. ‘Home can mean so many things – stability and safety, domesticity, family, connection with others, with yourself,’ says curator Gemma Rolls-Bentley. ‘Catherine Opie's artwork, which sparked the idea for the exhibition, depicts a pretty traditional view of “home”. The image of a house cut into her back is drawn in a childlike manner, suggesting that “home” is something we are all seeking and aspiring to but society's expected version of “home” can be very limited. For queer people, the dream of home can be painful, hardwon and […] can challenge society's expectations of what home should mean or look like.’

‘Dreaming of Home’ at at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art


Catherine Opie, Self-Portrait/Cutting, 1993

(Image credit: © Catherine Opie, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul)

Artists including Clifford Prince King, Jenna Gribbon, Sola Olulode, Cajsa von Zeipel, Nicole Eisenman, Christina Quarles, Shadi Al-Atallah, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Chiffon Thomas, Rene Matić and Leilah Babiyre explore the contrast between the safety of home and the unpredictability of the outside world in a juxtaposition of media and forms.

‘I selected the artists based on the various perspectives they bring to the idea of home,’ Rolls-Bentley adds. ‘Whether their work is about self, family, migration, domesticity, it all comes together to offer a thoughtful and hopeful exploration of queer home and belonging.’ 


Installation view, ‘Dreaming of Home’ 7 September 2023 – 7 January 2024

(Image credit: Photo: (c) Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, 2023. Photo: Object Studies.)

Photographs and videos from Whiskey Chow and Charmaine Poh uncover the human rights restrictions facing LGBTQIA+ people, while a raw palpability is expressed in Ro Robertson and Sarah Francis’ sculptures, which compare the narrative between queer bodies and the sustaining nature of the land. For Kudzanai-Violet Hwami and Chiffon Thomas, the skewed perceptions of childhood offer an insight into the limitations of memory on experience.

new york exhibiton

Laurence Philomene, COA, 2022. Installation view, ‘Dreaming of Home’ 7 September 2023 – 7 January 2024

(Image credit: Laurence Philomene)

‘The artists in “Dreaming of Home” magnificently reflect and respond to what every human fundamentally desires and needs for their wellbeing – to belong, to be loved, and to feel safe,’ says executive director of Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, Alyssa Nitchun. ‘The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art has been a home and a haven for LGBTQIA + folks for more than 50 years. At a time in the world that is deeply alarming and increasingly violent for queer and trans people, “Dreaming of Home” continues our mission of radical affirmation, imagination and joy.’ 

Rolls-Bentley agrees: ‘I'm truly excited for visitors to feel a sense of meaningful connection, to find space to reflect on their individual experiences and shared experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community and, most of all, to experience feelings of belonging and homecoming.’ 

‘Dreaming of Home’ is at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art until 7 January 2024


Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Android Venus, 2023

(Image credit: © Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Photo: Jack Hems)

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.