March 1, 2017 – Christina Knight

Assistant Professor of Visual Studies, Haverford College
“A Family Affair: Jacolby Satterwhite’s Queer Utopics”

Jacolby Satterwhite is an artist known for creating virtual worlds that feature avatars of himself voguing within densely rendered neon landscapes. Imagery for those landscapes derives from thousands of drawings of utilitarian objects that the artist’s mother made during his childhood in the hopes of striking it rich on the Home Shopping Network. Satterwhite’s virtual performances are as utopic as they are queer: his animated avatars makes manifest his desire to occupy a world as multiple and far-reaching as his sense of self.  However, in this paper I argue that this queer utopics begins with Satterwhite’s mother: operating within the dual restraints of mental illness and a capitalist imaginary, her drawings center possibility on the notion of utilitarian design. By reading Satterwhite’s virtual worlds through his mother’s drawings, I investigate a similar strategy of “making do to make new,” or reworking the mundane in the service of the marvelous.