Frankie Toan

In Residence: January 11 – March 4, 2016

Social Practice: Identity, Genderqueer/Transgender

Frankie Toan holds a BFA in Craft and Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. He views his craft as the political platform from which to create, employing repetitive, often labor intensive processes that have roots in traditional metalsmithing. Toan is in the process of incorporating new materials and techniques to help move past the static object, promoting movement and interaction with the viewer. Although much of his earlier work employed intricate constructions in metals and steel, the work he is creating at PlatteForum has shifted to textiles and soft sculptures – still employing complex building processes.

Much of Toan’s work is drawn from a constant desire to access, affect or create community. With this in mind, his aim is to maintain a critical lens on the complexities, complications, and intersections of communities. Queerness is a large part of his work, aesthetically, materially, and conceptually. As a genderqueer/transgender artist, navigating this identity (and others) is a constant process for Toan. The often messy ways that identities and bodies converge is a constant undercurrent. Thus far, this desire for connection has manifested in a series of interactive sculptures. His goal is for participants to interact with each other through the sculpture, thus creating some kind of unexpected connection. Each of the pieces are created through the repetition of small structural cells, compounding on each other to ‘grow’ scaffolding systems. These systems then restrict or facilitate touch.

While in residence at PlatteForum Toan will design projects and installations that are made by many hands, and ultimately reflecting the individuals and communities that make them. This process would expand the existing interactive qualities in his current pieces. During this time he will also work with a group of youth during Learning Lab sessions framed around personal experiences in order to express individual voices in the work. Toan recently completed a year-long residency at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.

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