Queer desire's orientations and learning in higher education fine art

Vicky Gunn*

Glasgow School of Art, UK

This paper explores the mechanisms of LGBTQI+ desire that intersect with fine art disciplinary learning. Sara Ahmed's Queer Phenomenology provides a theoretical scaffold for this work, particularly her reflection that orientations involve different ways of registering the proximity of objects and others. In so doing, sexual orientations might shape not just how we inhabit space, but how we apprehend this world of shared inhabitance (Ahmed, 2006, 3). I posit that the desires which determine self-placing within the LGBTQI+ rubric orient learning towards and/or away from disciplinary objects of engagement. They effect this through: accentuated tensions between two colliding aspects of a students' singularity (firstly, sexuality-centred states of being in which productive erotic desires reside and secondly, an individual student's creative will); sense making of the related desires; and the interaction of all of this with dominant disciplinary cultural manifestations in creative visual arts higher education. To investigate this premise, the work of queer/queering visual artists is introduced to the higher educational student learning research canon as a valuable source of understanding of what it means 'to be' in sexual orientation. In light of the work of queer artists, the discussion recognizes that tactics used by queer student artists and the cultural registers that they access and create can usefully be identified as a queer anatomy of agency that deserves fuller investigation. Specifically, it demonstrates how an analysis of queer artists' work offers a unique way of interrogating LGBTQI+ student learning experiences in fine art.

Keywords:Queer art, higher education, LGBTQI+ students


Queer art visually and relationally unfolds desire's alterity. It reveals other sexual and asexual hidden nows in the fabric of normal's present. It ensures public space is not left neutral or abstract. As fierce pussy noted in a 2009 interview, their queer art takes queerness out of the 'abstract' and enacts a queer conversation out in public (reprint: Getsy, 2016, 223). It also generates spaces of reparation, recognition, and preferable futurism (O'Rourke, 2012). In this queer art makes both anti-utopian, post-futural queer (Edelman, 2004) and queer optimism co-exist (Snediker, 2009). Indeed, queer art is not quite the same as LGBTQI+ art and this tells us something about how queer desire is experienced as an anarchy of disruption. When interviewed for the arts magazine, Homoculture, Chasen Igleheart, a queer performance artist, captured this thus: "I am queer because imaginary rules can't categorize or constrict me." (Igleheart & Perry, 2015, p. 11). Queer art cuts through conventions that exist as much in the LGBTQI+ communities (such as the continued privileging of certain voices, tropes, and bodies) as in broader normative ones. In so doing it generates visual practices that undermine any attempt to stabilize or sterilize sexuality's intersectional fluidity.

The multiple localities of queer from the creativity of queer artists

Arguably, queer and queering artists manifest visually the what of queer erotic orientations, signifying the promissary 'multiple localities of queer', which are dependent on no single referent or canon, though they are often associated with particular theorists (O'Rourke, 2012, p. 103; Muño, 2009). In so doing they manifest queer erotics as a dwelling or inhabiting of social space, rather than as a particular identity category. In this they revisit and disrupt expressions of meaning-making that have emerged around sexual orientation. I take as my starting place, three qualitatively identifiable ways of understanding the what of sexual orientation. These ways of understanding have all been the subject of queer artists and they capture the intersections of lived experience, theoretical approaches to LGBTQI+ bodies, and creative practice: Performativity: For Judith Butler, gender-based identities and the desires located within them are non-inherent to the body, in as much as that whilst having no prototype, certain characteristics and desires become naturalized through a cycle of reiteration of the norms ascribed to identity categories (Butler, 1990; Ruffalo, 2011). Reception of this philosophically-predicated idea has led to a dominant discourse of the fluid rather than stable orientation of one's desire as being an emancipator from heterosexual/ homosexual sexual binaries (Cohler & Hammack, 2007).

Yet, what queer art reminds us is that Butler's adoption as a provider of a coherent position on gender and desire needs to be questioned in the light of the two following categories of experience: Firstly, material literalism: Commonly part of a lived experience intersecting with particular religious faiths where embodiment is tied up with concepts of sin or moral error, but also assumed to be the dominant experience of some from the Trans+ community. Secondly, incorporeality: This dimension expresses how the phenomenon of the perceiving Self and its associated desires is in some way inherent. It does this without falling back on either biological determinism or the categories of gendered experience linked directly to Freudian sexology or post-Lacanian scholarship. Written works connected to this represent the notion of authentic subjectivities and it is particularly associated with discursive attribution (Munt, 1997; Halberstam, 1998; Ahmed, 2006; Ruffalo, 2011; Carter & Gunn, 2017). Thus, for some in the Trans+ community, rather than the body determining gender identity, a complex interaction of an individual's internal sense of self and corporeality (not a form of over simplified inherency) transcends the material self, which in turn requires creative resignification of assumptions about body-dimorphism (Zimman, 2014).

Hypothetically, as multiple-localities these categories of experience can co-exist within the terrain of the individual body, with one being more dominant than others in the face of specific cultural norms. Additionally, these categories of meaning-making are the 'objects' from which accentuated affect emerges. As such they can be considered in terms of Ahmed's objects which circulate as social goods, intimately associated with affect, be that happiness or otherwise (Ahmed, 2011). As imaginary objects, they seem stable, yet are immaterial and over-loaded with assumptions and fantasies, which intimately interact with the ways culture is materialised. This approach challenges generalizing assumptions regarding sexuality and its relationship to gender dimorphism regarding LGBTQI+ groups, which tend to start from an oppositional binary of either the colocation of sex and gender or the dislocation of sex and gender, but either way get stuck on male/female dichotomies.

Queer art's anatomy of agency

Queer art visually embodies, then, a possible model which demonstrates that sexuality is as much about the way affects are accentuated from within erotic orientations in relation to matter, as it is about the recognition to be gained from identity-belonging. In production of such a model, artists deploy a range of visual tactics which challenge and potentially undermine visual regimes that communicate through repeating the habits of power, particularly ones which reinforce oversimplifying yet tenacious sex and gender, nature and nurture binaries. At this juncture it is useful to note that the range of tactics deployed can be found to have parallels in the literature on LGBTQI+ student experience. I have referred to these strategies elsewhere as the queer anatomy of agency (Gunn, 2015). In short, these strategies include forms of transgression; making invisibility familiar without making particular visibilities stable; reclamation and reappropriation of shame and spectacle; social facilitation, strategic pragmatics around the Self; mischievousness; changing temporality (outlined in more depth in Table 1).

Table 1 Outlining Queer Art's Anatomy of Agency

Strategy Tactics used Indicative references
Transgression: Defiance and defiant presence that undoes normative forms and assumptions in fine art and is achieved through:

Punkiness that unsettles gender assumptions and their association with sexuality, such as in the work of Juergen Teller and Kristen McMenamy.


Shinkle, 2013.


Subversion & radical questioning and the associated altering of dominant definitions of desire, for example, from the pleasure of consummation (and its hetero/homonormative assumptions) to the enjoyment of contradiction or through unfurling configurations of pleasure beyond phallogocentrism.


Sullivan, 2003; Bowen, 2016; MacCormack, 2013, 226

Heresy or creating and investing in new ways of understanding which are explicitly prohibited by those in power, seen in the animated works of the feminist postcolonialist animator, Chitra Ganesh's works, for example.



Ganesh, 2016

Grappling with 'improper' objects. Latimer, 2016
Fugitive knowledge and fugitive citations


Grace & Wells, 2004; Guy, 2016
Discursive attribution (beyond essential/constructed binary) to overcome 'hegemonic material literalism' Zimman, 2014
Making invisibility familiar without making particular visibilities stable Making social absences visible through performing visibility (such as in Del LaGrace Volcanoe's collaborative photographic project, Visibly Intersex 2011-2017). Connected with this tactic is destabalizing normative archives through a conscious act of ownership, eg deliberately placing queer monuments in otherwise normative social spaces such as cemeteries. See particularly Patricia Cronin's 2003, Monument to a Marriage installed in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx NY. Lord & Maya, 2013
Exposing territories and conventions of normativity (as in the works of the queer artists involved in the Shades of Noir (2016) Decoding Masculinity project, Ebun Sodipo, Sabeh Choudrey, Othello De'Souza Hartley). Shades of Noir, 2016
Demonstrating resistance through recognition which at the same time resists identity-fication, as in the film artwork, Opaque, by Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz. Guy, 2016
Reclamation and reappropriation Sexuality shame (in a variety of cultural guises) Munt, 2007; Halperin & Traub, 2009; Moore, 2004.
Spectacle, carnivalising and hypertheatricality, especially trans-camp as spectacle, but recognizing the difficulties of intersectionality with this too. Papenburg, 2013; Mayo, 2014; Ings, 2015:
Social facilitation Peace-keeping and truce generation. Keenan, 2014; Bettinger, 2007.
Strategic pragmatics around the Self Dormancy not latency

a) Self-enforced hibernation

b) Compartmentalisation

McAllister, 2016.
Passing Rankin, 2006
Mischievousness Humour, especially invention, playfulness, performance, parody. Munt, 2007; Sullivan, 2003
Irreverence, as demonstrated through the figurative painting of Dale Lewis Lewis, 2017
Changing temporality Making temporary and not so temporary queer geographies Luzia, 2013

Why might this be relevant to queer student learning in fine art?

By reflecting on multiple localities of queer as a model from which to consider the emergence of learning in a given cultural context (such as a discipline like fine art), it is possible to infer how the experience of Self (at least in terms of sexuality) potentially can have a profound impact on the relationship of sexual orientation to disciplinary matter. If this model is theoretically sufficient for now, it emphasizes that states of being are not exclusive to one identity centric dimension but rather represent a delicate ecosystem of aspects of who we are that balance and rebalance over the life course, the balance being charged and reset by the inhabitance of desires erotic (and non-erotic). Though an 'imagined truth', multiple localities of queer are a useful heuristic for grasping how the mutualizing of desire and creative will might affect the way queer fine art's students reside or dwell in learning spaces. In acknowledging these different lived experiences, we may need to address states of being in which responses from erotic orientations play a considerable role and which emanate from the body through social, material, and immaterial relationships. This in turn will hopefully provide a more sophisticated engagement with sexuality than has been enabled through the hitherto dominant oppositional binary underneath the discourse of heteronormativity.

Moreover, the strategies used by queer artists clarify the embodied nature of learning as creatively responding out of erotics' affects to the objects that compose culture and what might, therefore, be considered agentic sexuality in learning. Recognizing that the three elements of erotic orientation outlined above influence leaning towards/ away from learning responses in the face of particular metanarratives and other socio-cultural manifestations which lead to particular visually creative strategies, is a way to reconsider queer disciplinary learning in fine art. The three elements as multiple localities arguably determine what is accentuated in the experience of receiving a discipline's matter both positive and negative. How students who subjectively favour any one of the three outlined categories of understanding of their sexual selves in the face of abrasive assumptions emanating from the collision with the two others is an origination point of creativity. As such, queer agency is materialized from this genesis. A key insight from the work of queer artists is the option that students who produce queer art whilst learning the 'discipline' of fine art could be said to reflect the authentic, immediate insistency of their desiring selves in a manner that dislocates normative visual perceptions and almost ubiquitous forms of aesthetics in wider society. Queer art students see queerly. In so doing, they challenge constrained fields of vision, ie ones which harness established abstraction and conceptual meaning to what is perceived through sight, and create new ones (Shapiro, 2003, p. 201; Heyes et al., 2016, p. 142). Queer visual tactics from multiple localities of queer as a way of understanding the generation of learning in fine art is thus worthy of attention.

Conceptualizing Fine Art as a Discipline Materialized

Fine Art as a discipline of higher education is an imagined social entity constituted through disciplinary cultural manifestations (Gunn, 2014). Key to these are formal and informal practices, cultural forms, and moral order themes and how they balance or contradict one another in student encounters with them (Gunn, 2014). As well as those disciplinary cultural manifestations associated more generally with learning, subjectivities, and inter-subjectivities in university, fine art education brings a specific mix of its own: firstly, the phenomena of singularity (erotic and creative will); secondly, the interaction of singularity with visuality; thirdly, the impact of incorporating and reconstituting the limits of aesthetics as fuzzily defined within visual arts educational contexts through subjective abrasions (particularly in relation to assessment and feedback mechanisms). Circulating throughout the discipline's pedagogical structures, these play a significant role in subjectivities and intersubjectivities of visual arts' students, their peers and staff, within and outwith the studio, yet this mix tends to be overlooked in the literature on student learning. All three are experienced together as a whole but are separated here for ease of analysis.

Singularity and Creative Will

The creative arts particularly have appropriated and transformed Freudian and Lacanian psycho-sexual analysis into heuristic devices centred on both the role of the imagination and the singularity of the Self. These devices offer critical insights into how sexuality oriented subjectivities might operate to charge what we do and why we do it (Watson, 2008; Ruti, 2012; Williams, 2013). I adapt here Mari Ruti's useful reminder of the Lacanian description of human subjectivity as entailing a constant negotiation of three registers of being: the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real (Ruti, 2012: 1). The Real can also be described as singularity. In this context, singularity is that which intrudes into our students lives as an unruly vortex of super-abundant vitality (referred to by Lacan as jouissance) and which breaches the registers of being associated with our integration into symbolic orders and our imaginary sense of Self (Ruti, 2012). This singularity is where rebellious-to-social-norm energies reside (Ruti, 2012). Such energies should not be limited to sexuality and I posit here that these energies also include what I refer to as creative will. Nonetheless, sexual desires are often one of the most powerful manifestations of singularity (consider, for example, their co-existing capacities of incoherence and powerful specificity as noted by Jordy Jones in the discussion of Loren Cameron's Transhomosex Texts artwork, 2007, 9).

Creative will is an insistence that drives a student artist to return to certain forms, representations, media over and over again, each time trying a different angle and each time, converting their desires, obsessions, imagination into a productive material or immaterial artefact. The mutualizing of this will with erotic singularity is perfectly summed by Vince Aletti, reflecting on his time as a student artist: "I wasn't consciously queering the space, but as my rooms filled up with images of men, I realized I was queering the pictures. It didn't matter who made them or with what intentions. Now that they were mine, they became expressions of my desire, my obsession, my imagination. They may not be gay, but they'd become queer." (Aletti, 2015, p. 27). It is 'in love' with the creative process as much as the product and is, to use Pilcher's phrase when he discusses the work of Tomoko Kashiki, single-minded in its dedication (Pilcher, 2017, p. 144).

I construct here an initial hypothesis around the currently under-determined phenomena of erotic singularity and creative will singularity and recognize that as such, my observation warrants critique. Nonetheless, I think the notion of singularity as a locality for both queer desires and creative will in fine art students is a useful way of accessing something that is perhaps an 'inherence' of being (See Ahmed, 2006; Jagodzinski, 2002), lived out by some of our LGBTQI+ students as they progress with their studio work. I hypothesize that when two aspects of a students' singularity (Ruti, 2012) collide: sexuality-centered states of being in which productive erotic desires reside (Grosz, 2010) and creative will, this amplifies how they experience meta-narratives and objects which circulate as norms within disciplinary cultural manifestations. This point of accentuation thus emerges as the location for engagement and alienation and this has a phenomenologically identifiable different flavour depending on the students experience of the multiple localities of queer. When students' sexuality and creative will as mutualized states of being, particularly their sense of them, comes into play with apparently negating, abrasive or contradictory mechanisms and meta-narratives within disciplinary cultural manifestations, this affects how and what they learn. This can occur in both a specific instant and/or be accumulative. It can evoke shame and/or excitement. It is visceral and disquietening. It may also drive how emerging queer artists deploy visually typical, normative, and/or queer cultural references of their present in a disruptive or apparently dissonant manner.

Visuality: being visible whilst visualizing

One of the joys of working in an Art School, particularly one which provides on-campus, residential studios for its undergraduates, is being able to watch artworks emerge over a given year of study. This act of 'being able to watch', however, is itself evidence of how visuality operates in fine art students' learning. In effect, fine art studios in such a context are an oligopticon, peer-based and relational, where mutual oversight happens in a time-limited frame and where academics and practitioners visit to give feedback and make assessments (adapted from Armstrong, 2015; Otto, 2008). Privacy in such a setting is, thus, complicated. These complexities are made even more so by the sense that relational aesthetics at a peer level are a fluid constant in a context of circulating ambiguity and uncertainty (Bourriard, 1998; Orr and Shreeve, 2018). Visuality is heightened in terms of an expectation of seeing. It is also a haptic regime that tends to be rooted in the sensual rather than a necessarily intellectual gaze (Beugnet, 2013, 181). This cannot but invite intimacies and exclusions, especially where intrusion on the normatively private is experienced.

Into this already powerful experiential amalgam comes an additional dimension, materiality. I refer here to the ways in which simultaneous making, understanding of Self, and autonomy of action originates and feeds both alienation and creativity (Ingold, 2013). Materiality thus plays a part in learning as affective dynamics emerge in the engagement with images, smells, textures, shapes and sounds (Papenburg & Zarzycka, 2013, 1). In terms of this understanding of materiality, the clearest phenomenon relevant to this paper relates to the queer-theory-haptic-making combination in studio. What happens when practice is enriched by theory in the studio depends on both the recognitions of Self experienced through it and the critical abrasions evoked by it. Embodiment debates in the critical studies elements of the curriculum (Rintoul, 2017) and haptic aspects of making come together with the debris of historically based cultures as part of our meaning-making. Students responses to this are constitutive of fields of vision, imagination, and creative production. In this observation, I am not trying to over-claim the outcome of this as a pedagogic practice in terms of a consistently high quality of reflective practice on the part of our students. Other disciplinary mechanisms appear to influence these outcomes both positively and negatively (Belluigi, 2017). I am, however, suggesting that the making of the private (sexual desires) public within the studio impacts on the student's experience of learning visual practices through their body and accentuates the affect that runs alongside this. This in turn makes queer theory both something that emerges through their art practice and an existing intellectual canon of influence. To qualify this somewhat, it is noticeable for some LGBTQI+ students that, in this space, "declaration is integral to the authenticity of work" (Ings, 2015: 73). In this sense, the Self is inescapable in their creative practice, which in turn increases the prospects of the multiple localities of queer's abrasions with forms of normativity.

This is important if we accept that higher education continues to operate structurally, sentimentally, and symbolically from implied sexual privacy and associated totalizing assumptions about heterosexuality (heteronormativity) (Harris & Gray, 2014; Rowe, 2012; Epstein et al., 2003). Put simply, such spaces amplify difference and reassert cultural hierarchies in which binaries regarding the orientations of desire are located (Epstein et al., 2003; Harris & Gray, 2014). The recipe of desires, self-engagement in art production, and exposure to theory can profoundly reveal this. Indeed, from erotically charged imagination queer creativity can result as a student makes the intimate out of inanimate and animate objects. This can produce erotic spaces of pleasure within fine art where a person could not otherwise initially belong. Social containments of sensuality, however, also become illuminated, with non-normative heterosexual desire often being placed in a category of 'questionable other', to be viewed publically with suspicion (if not derision) (Young, 2012; Loutzenheiser & McIntosh, 2004). This othering simultaneously perpetuates binaried thinking and effectively avoids legitimizing the positive role of diverse desire as presented through the multiple localities of queer and their resultant pleasures in how learning occurs (Allen, 2009; Allen, 2014). One of the challenges of heteronormativity for LGBTQI+ students is that their lives are subordinated to a model of consensus living that may seem ever more abstracted from their lived experience as understood through the multiple localities of queer outlined above. The impact of this on the Self's construction of a personal hermeneutic approach is one of affective intensity. These are pivotal points of orientations away from study, where the potential of the multiple localities of queer as states-of-being function to counter the dominant socio-cultural discourse.

In this way, heteronormativity translates possible connections within the educational space into repeated gestures of exclusion which produce alienation (Loutzenheiser & McIntosh, 2004; Mayo, 2014; Epstein, et al., 2003; Ellis, 2009; Valentine & Wood, 2009; Ripley et al., 2012; Woodford, et al., 2013; Keenan, 2014; Bradbury, et al., 2016). For example, the affect heightening processes of becoming and being, when frequently perceived as deviant from the norm, intensify certain types of shame and low self-worth, making persistence an intensified emotional labour (Scourfield, et al, 2008; Blumenfeld, et al., 2016). We must not ignore this. In some students, this will lead to disengagement, self-exclusion, and far worse. However, it is also the case that as LGBTQI+ art students become explicitly aware of their own Othering through its emergence in studio, they use the resultant sense of alienation to respond to their experience with creative action. It is, therefore, a mistake solely to conceptualize alienation and agency as exclusive of each other in higher education learning (Mackenzie, 2013). The paradox of alienation is that it can be expressed as agency both through personal rejection and as intellectual transformation. If there's one insight to be drawn from the learning of creative practitioners, it is that alienation charged with erotic desire can animate. Thus, the discordances that direct withdrawal and apathy can also facilitate the individual to act autonomously, even in a position of structural vulnerability. In fine art students, it can also be expressed through ways of thinking, making and doing reformation from a place of ontological disquiet.

For some students, then, these embodied encounters provide opportunities to make a new sense of what at first feels discordant – a construction of a personally meaningful appropriative yet disruptive reading of an object, situation, or meta-narrative otherwise assumed within heteronormativity to be universal or taken for granted. This is a genesis for originality through embodied learning, epistemological agency in alienation, where the question marks generated by apparent frictions in the discipline's curriculum or the dissonances amplified by meta-narratives that jar become owned by the individual student in a conscious act. This is in no way to justify othering, prejudice, or maintaining structural and individual discrimination, but it is attempting to raise the possibility that queer agency is a valuable characteristic of learning worthy of far more interrogation than it has had to date. Arguably, this agency potentially transforms social and epistemological norms articulated within fine art as well as institutional atmospheres. The desires and pleasures associated with LGBTQI+ orientation may illuminate aspects of how we learn and, in that learning, change subject-based interpretative stances.

Incorporating and reconstituting the limits of aesthetics in (visual) creativity

In the context of this discussion, aesthetics is defined as a manifested process of judgement and appreciation intrinsically linked with affect. As such aesthetics as used here emphasises the cultural formation of the senses (Papenburg & Zarzycka, 2013, 3). In experience, aesthetic affects are "moments of intensity, a reaction in/on the body at the level of matter" (O'Sullivan, 2001, p. 126). In the context of students, therefore, aesthetic responses are embodiments of emotions tempered through increasingly skilled pattern, schema, and sign recognition. This views the incorporation and reconstitution of aesthetics as happening on the level of daily experiences in which affective responses become increasingly filtered but not necessarily less intense as specialisation is developed regarding certain patterns, schema, and signs. Those patterns, schema, and signs we then judge as something we do or do not prefer. This is expressed in relationship with objects and ideas and the way we see them and, ideally, they develop both subtly and profoundly over the period of an undergraduate fine art degree. This does not mean that there are only visual aesthetics – rather 'the way we see' as used here is shorthand for to be aware of through the senses. In the aesthetic moment, feeling and calculation seem in unity (See, Prinz, 2011, p.72), amplifying an orientation towards or away from the patterns, schema, signs we encounter. This point accepts that aesthetic valuation has an affective foundation.

Queer aesthetics abrasions: feedback and assessment processes

Queer artists have shown how reclaiming abjection, disgust, shame, pleasure challenges normative fields of vision. Whatever is behind how we define, judge, evaluate concepts such as beauty, ugliness and their associations with aesthetics, certain definitions, judgements and evaluations become acknowledged more broadly and valued hierarchically within a given community over individual differences. The power given to hierarchically defined norms of aesthetics and who can see them within a group is at the heart of concerns about the ideologies embedded in aesthetics (O'Sullivan, 2001, p. 126). It should also be at the heart of a visual arts education and the assessment processes on which it depends. After all, it is in this process where personal aesthetics constituted by students explicitly meet what they at times experience as seemingly restrictive fields of vision. Indeed, as queer student artists challenge what they perceive to be heteronormatively constituted fields of vision, especially if they intuit an underlying morality, creative risk is accentuated.


Queer artists situate themselves in relation to history, objects, others, and ideas differently, producing and curating visual interruptions which challenge the dominating gaze be it gender stereotypical, overly simplifying sexual categories, or influential racialized morphologies that assume universalism (this reflection builds on Berger, et al., 1972). In their work, queer artists manifest the queer desire lines that defy any dependence on over simplifications of LGBTQI+ erotic desire. Acknowledging this, it is possible to suggest that erotic desire's orientations, then, may play a role in generating LGBTQI+ learning in fine art. This is especially observable in terms of the relationships between who the students are in the light of the fine art they create and co-create, who they are becoming and have become as they navigate these processes through undergraduate progression, and how they opt to learn in the discipline from these places of dwelling in themselves. How we orient to the phenomenon we encounter in these processes from an embodied place requires more robust interrogation if we are to apprehend the ecology of student learning. The impressions LGBTQI+ fine art students form through their desires, how these impressions exert themselves to increase proximity or distance and resultant engagement and production, and the what of queer artistry that materializes out of them is worthy of our attention.

I have argued for the importance of queer and its relationship to student learning in fine art. The mutualizing of erotic and creative will as aspects of singularity could be used as an epistemological framework for comprehending the generation of queer defiance and deviation in higher education learning. In so doing, what our research and teaching practices could focus on is the anatomy of agency, in which we welcome the disruptive claims queer student artists make on our pasts, nows, and our futures. Queer desires challenge instrumental, disembodied norms about how fine art students acquire and creatively construct knowledge. Desires (erotic and/or creative), as a key component of Self, human relations, and identity development, may affect what our students opt to learn, how they opt to learn it, and what they are prepared to make conscious in their learning (Bracher, 2002; Carter and Gunn, 2017). Nonetheless, how sexuality mutualized with creative will orients fine art students' disciplinary learning in higher education contexts is still too invisible to be familiar.


  1. The nature of queer art is one of constant flux, however, four excellent starting places to become familiar with queer art are: Lord & Maya, 2013; Rogers, 2007; Pilcher, 2017; Lorenz, 2012.


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*Email: v.gunn@gsa.ac.uk

ISSN: ISSN 2398-5836

Copyright (c) 2018 Vicky Gunn