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It's all about the missing bits

Mon 14 Jun 2010 In: Community View at NDHA

Kestin Stweart Kestin Stewart can't even remember when he first started drawing, but he can remember having a callus on his finger from his fascination with 'creating something on a flat piece of paper' when he was aged just seven. The Auckland community worker and artist's exhibition, It's All About The Missing Bits, opens at Kamo on K' Rd this Friday night. The title of the exhibition stems from the combined factors of Stewart being FTM transgender and the artworks being a collection of the many life drawings he's created over the past few years while studying animation – and learning to understand human anatomy and how the body moves. "I've always loved drawing people. To me it was fascinating seeing all different types of people and different body shapes. I guess being a trans person – seeing what I don't have and what they do," he laughs. Stewart says in a lot of his pieces there are parts missing, where he has only drawn half of the body, or no face, or no legs. "It's the rare one that is a full figure," he says. It's his first exhibition, brought about by pressure from friends who were amazed at his substantial portfolio and demanded he show his work. However, like most artists he is his own biggest critic and is modest in his expectations: "If people like it they like it," he candidly states. "If people like the way I look at things and the way I draw it, then they get something from that. I mean, art's different for everyone. I can draw something and someone will have a completely different interpretation of it. So it's really up to the individual to get what they get out of it." "But you know - I am a bit nervous." Stewart says while many of the pieces are straightforward life drawings, there are more personal pieces he is still working on in the lead-up to Friday's opening. The work chiefly features chalk pastels, his favourite medium, as well as pencil and charcoal. "What I love about chalk pastel is there is a lot you can do with it. You can make it almost look like watercolours, you can have it very clean and crisp, you can work on top of it again and again ... and I like colours." One of Stewart's truest loves is animation, as he revels in being able to bring his pictures to life. His goals in the field have been momentarily usurped by his newer love for working in the community, something he discovered as he was studying and eventually tutoring, while also coming out and transitioning. Stewart has been working extensively with Rainbow Youth as a board member and facilitator. He has recently joined the GenderBridge Board, a move which has been lauded as an injection of youth. "Working in that community field with youth has become a bigger passion of mine and has kind of overwritten my artistic passion, to an extent. I still have the same ultimate goal in terms of wanting to create animated films and television shows with queer content." He would like to create something in the realms of Disney crime-fighter cartoon Kim Possible. "And it would have a queer character in it that was not a big deal. Because I would have loved, at that age, the age of ten or so, to watch a cartoon and there be a representation of me – that's not a big deal." Stewart also does a lot of artwork for the community, in promotional event posters for example. He is available for commissions – and says he can draw in just about any style. Pieces from Stewart's exhibition will be on sale at a range prices, starting at just $20. Loren Boothby, Kamo owner, says the bar is an open space for queer artists and anyone who wants to show their work simply needs to get in touch. It's All About The Missing Bits opens on 7pm Friday at 382 K' Rd, Auckland.     Jacqui Stanford - 14th June 2010

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Monday, 14th June 2010 - 8:09am

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