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  • Iridian Gallery 1407 Sherwood Avenue Richmond, VA 23220 United States (map)

OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, January 11, 7-9 PM

The internet opened a floodgate of data that illuminated the history of queer peoples more than ever before. The movement of this community from of the local gay bar into an online world, spawned deeper understandings around sexuality and gender. Recent legislation has created the beginnings of broad-based censorship across the web that threaten this evolutionary queer resource sharing. It is in this context that Avery Shaffer uses ancient glass traditions, digital photography, and his virtual avatar Abel Valerie to explore ever evolving perceptions of queer identity. Over the past five years Shaffer has created work searching for our mythic truths and working with the sacred traditions of glass to derive permanence. It is through our sempiternal memory that we see ourselves and understand lasting value.

Transparency and the male form through historical art, religious context and social media is the heart of his research. He creates virtual windows with vitreous enamels that allow alter ego online guises to peer out. In his studio practice, he employs ancient craft techniques of stained glass filtered through modern modes of communication to create a new iconography. Art can tackle the taboo and make it holy. The stained glass makers of old worked to capture the glory of the divine, and he works to capture the glory of the homo in his natural habitat, establishing a new empowering mythology.

Avery Shaffer, an artist, designer, and instructor working in glass and social media, received his BFA from East Carolina University with a concentration in painting. His glass studio, Ellenburg and Shaffer creates nationally prominent commercial work. Shaffer is also an instructor at The Chrysler Museum Glass Studio in Norfolk, VA. In his personal exploration, Shaffer uses large, wall-mounted glass pieces to explore gay identity and the male form. Using his online persona, Abel Valerie, he has created a body of work including the warehouse party/shows of *Who is Abel Valerie* and *Starseed*, which have taken the virtually interactive component into real time.