Stormé at Stonewall, a large installation (5 ft x 20 ft) composed of 14 collaged light boxes of various sizes and a four channel oscillator which makes the light boxes flicker, was commissioned by The Brooklyn Museum for the exhibition Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall. The exhibition opened on May 3, 2019 and closes December 8th, 2019.

The Stonewall Tavern in New York City’s West Village is frequently positioned as the primary site that sparked modern gay liberation. Gay, lesbian, transgender and queer people that patronized the bar were often besieged with police raids, and on a summer night in 1969, they fought back against police. Stonewall still serves as a queer bar and as a place to gather for protests, vigils, and rallies.

The light boxes illuminate analog collages that highlight Stormé DeLarverie who was alleged to have been a critical instigator in the Stonewall Uprising. DeLarverie was a legendary mixed-race butch lesbian drag king from Louisiana, who is often erased from mainstream accounts of the rebellion. Though DeLarverie’s role in the rebellion was pivotal, her role in queer and trans liberation extended far beyond Stonewall; she was a staple of The Jewel Box revue, often performing at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, was a bouncer at the landmark lesbian bars Henrietta Hudson and The Cubbyhole, and mentored young queer people until her death at the age of 93.

The light boxes transform wildly differing New York Times accounts of the Stonewall Riots into original prose, which is juxtaposed with images from DeLarverie’s performances and life, as well as queered architectural environs from the West Village. Stormé at Stonewall presents a poetic and visual document that acknowledges DeLarvarie’s (in)visibility while honoring her remarkable legacy.

Installation Images: Jonathan Dorado
Details: LJ Roberts