May 2015 collaboration with John Parot at the LGBTQ Center in Long Beach, CA.
For the exhibition Open Secret, the artists Steven Frost and John Parot present a body of sculptures, textiles, and paintings that celebrate the open secrets of days past and look to the closet, a place of strange magic. Frost engages with the life of Liberace creating sequin-soaked sculptures and paintings inspired by designs from his Palm Springs home. Parot imagines the view from inside and outside the closet with his Eyes Open series. Constructing flamboyant fabric eyes and confrontational fabric patterns. Their choice of shiny and bright costume materials shows us the social contract that allowed “open secrets”, a society that enforced its own standards but at the same time wanted to see an alternative more glamorous world.
What has the closet become in a modern context? For many, it’s a threat or an underhanded accusation of cowardice thrown at politicians and actors. “To be in the closet” or on the “down low” is marked by shame, and those that leave the closet are celebrated as brave. However historically the closet was a place where public figures like Liberace could signify their queerness without admitting to it. There was a social contract, until the 1990’s, that as long as people didn’t acknowledge their queerness with words and ask for equal standing under the law, they could live without prosecution. This is what has been called an “open secret.”