Third Space DFW Is Making Room for Queer Expression

The queer collective Third Space DFWEXPAND
The queer collective Third Space DFW
Antonio Mercado
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The queer collective Third Space DFW wants to enhance LGBTQ voices, artistically and unapologetically, by developing a “queernormative” space.

The Fort Worth art group, founded in 2019, has two exhibitions coming up this month: the virtual Once a Day Swallow a Small Sun, premiering Dec. 10 on thirdspacedfw.com, and an in-person show, Kwik N Ez, set to run from Dec. 18 to Jan. 16, 2021. Their focus? Expanding the concept of artistry that focuses on queer identity in North Texas. In the past, the collective has hosted a "Q Brunch” fundraiser event that supported local queer artists and “Artgaggle,” where they renovated an entire home to create a bright, colorful, queer safe space and art gallery.

Two of Third Space’s founding members, Antonio Mercado and Kim Phan Nguyen, have known each other since high school, using their spare time to test out their creative expression, being the “weird art kids” and watching art house movies.

With Third Space DFW, Mercado and Phan Nguyen use their talents to enhance their brand. Mercado largely focuses on community outreach, partnering with local nonprofits and LGBTQ organizations in North Texas.

Phan Nguyen, a graduate student from the University of North Texas who's worked for the Dallas Museum of Art, uses her creative and professional knowledge to create artistic visuals for the group's promotion and galleries. 

Together with members Norma Gonzalez, Brad Westerman, Sindy Mata and Christopher Najera — and an additional group of local artists — Once a Day Swallow a Big Sun examines the spectrum of mental and physical health in the queer community.

One of the artists featured, Sean McGuire, focuses on the messages of queer people who are reluctant to speak out to those closest to them. McGuire receives their messages anonymously and wears the notes on a jacket.

Kwik N Ez, still in development, will be a physical exhibition that will explore sexual promiscuity in the LGBTQ community. Mercado notes that the show will have an otherworldy vibe and pay homage to homoerotic magazines and vintage art.

Their perspective may be unconventional, but that is merely who they are as artists, Phan Nguyen says.

“There is a grittiness to art. We’re kind of being vulnerable in a way,” Phan Nguyen says. “I think people would appreciate that. I think people would appreciate the grime coming out.”

For Mercado, Third Space DFW’s intersectional queer art is for his community. He doesn’t worry what others from the outside think.

“I’m doing my art for gay people, for queer people,” Mercado says. “That’s who my audience is.”

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