Class Acts: Tucker Pierce

Tucker Pierce, a cofounder of Westminster Press (center), screen-prints in Bixby Hall. Photo by Stan Strembicki.

Westminster Press cofounder highlights art from marginalized communities

Posted by Liam Otten May 8, 2015

 

This story is part of WUSTL's Class Acts series, which recognizes graduating students who are changing the world through research, service, and innovation.

As an artist, senior Tucker Pierce explores the intentional construction of identity and what happens when it encounters the surrounding world. As cofounder of Westminster Press, Pierce is hoping to create both metaphoric and literal space for artists from marginalized communities. Pierce is graduating with a BFA in Art, with a concentration in printmaking as well as a minor in Spanish.

Your background is in painting and printmaking, but your thesis project is more photo-based. Can you describe the series?

It's called Untitled (Too Real is this Feeling of Make-Believe), which is a Dolly Parton quote. Basically I was dressing up in drag, going out into public, and documenting it. The project was really about border crossing—about crossing physically from the private to pubic sphere and stepping outside society's expectations of gender expression.

You describe your work in terms of camp, but the resulting images feel quite sincere, even melancholy. Is that a contradiction?

There's a difference between camp and kitsch. Camp is about earnestly exploring this metaphor of life-as-theater. It's about being completely invested but then failing ever so slightly. If you're not doing that, it just becomes kitsch.

You founded Westminster Press with Nicholas Curry last year and are currently raising funds, via Kickstarter, for a permanent gallery space. How did the press get started?

We do these sort of cheeky, provocative prints and posters that deal with queer sexuality and marginalized identities. And when we started taking them to local art fairs and other events, we found real interest. There was a market, but not a marketplace.

The work we're doing with Westminster Press is different from the work I make for my personal practice. But politically, I think the work is aligned. In both cases, the idea is to take something from the margins and bring it into the center.