A queer eye for art

Each Chapman art student’s experiences, hometown, race, or sexual orientation influences the artwork they create.

Andy Macasil is a 31-year-old senior studio art major. He has brought diversity and controversy into the Chapman art department as a gay artist.

“I wanted controversy, I wanted something that would make the viewer uncomfortable, that would be thought provoking,” Macasil said. “I’ve always liked a bit of drama.”

The theme of his junior show was sexuality, focusing on the softer, more intimate side of gay love and sex. His paintings depict the tender, graceful moments two men in love can share. He understood that showing this work would create controversy.

In grade school, Macasil was known as the “best drawer” in his classes. He always wanted to doodle on napkins and color-in the kids’ menus in restaurants. There were opportunities for him to expand his creative interests, but he was his own worst enemy.

“Even from a young age, I was simultaneously afraid of success and failure,” Macasil said. “I was scared that I wouldn’t be good enough, but the expectations that would come with success also scared me.”

Macasil took his first art class, to be around a boy he had a crush on and had artwork up for one of their school’s shows. He thought he could impress this boy with his own artwork. That plan did not work out, but it sparked Macsil’s interest in art.

After taking his first art class, Macasil won first prize in a competition for a black and white painting showing his potential as an artist.

Following high school, Macasil continued to develop his artistic abilities through commercial work and taking classes at California State University, Long Beach. At 29 he decided to come to Chapman University because of the financial aid opportunities offered to him to seriously pursue art.

He showed his first series of paintings in the Guggenheim last year for his junior show. This was the first “collection” Macasil had done. Though he has always gravitated towards realism by recreating realistic scenes in art, and painting people, this was the first time he created work specifically to have unity.

“I think I like realism because when I realized I could make something look life-like, I wanted to keep pushing myself to see just how life-like I could make it,” Macasil said. “When it comes to painting, I like the sense of true creation, of illusion and deception, and putting an unbelievable lie onto paper.”

Macasil is now working towards his senior exhibition and says that the theme will be similar to that of his previous show, incorporating aspects of self-identity.

He will also show his work at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. His solo exhibition will take place in the spring, though there has yet to be a set date, and will be curated by Chapman’s art professor, Lia Halloran.

“Lia Halloran has introduced me as a ‘fantastic queer artist’,” says Macasil. “And while the ‘fantastic’ part is great, being recognized as a ‘queer’ artist was a validating moment for me.”

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