MoMA Creates ‘Safe Space’ for LGBTQ Teens and Allies

The program will provide teens with a safe space to nurture their interests in art-making or history.

Participants in OAS taking in works at MoMA. Photo Courtesy Kaitlyn Stubbs.

In a move symbolizing solidarity with and support of the LGBTQ community, New York City’s Museum of Modern Art has implemented Open Art Space (OAS), billed as “a free drop-in program for LGBTQ Teens and their Allies.”

“Make Art. Meet People. Explore Ideas. Be Yourself,” reads the museum’s OAS webpage. Organized as a weekly meeting for LGBTQ high school students, the program is designed to provide teens with a safe space to nurture their interests in art-making or art history.

Though each session is run by facilitator and artist Mark Joshua Epstein, the intention is to keep the program loose, ultimately allowing for the students’ interests to be the driving force.

“Participants work together to discover the untold and alternative histories of modern and contemporary art,” the site says in its description.

OAS also includes guided walks of MoMA’s galleries, talks, and lectures by artists (including one with Robert Gober), and the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded young people. One such project included “Gay Jungle Galaxy Prom,” an LGBTQ prom-themed photo shoot.

“Teens wanted at least a taste of a prom they couldn’t have in their own schools, where they could bring whomever they wanted, dress however they wanted, and explore whatever gender roles felt right to them at that moment,” Epstein wrote of the event on the MoMA and MoMA PS1 blog.

OAS also provides free snacks and MetroCards, and does not require advance registration, making it incredibly accessible to anyone who might wish to participate.

“Open Art Space’s role is to offer space for teens to explore their own identities as well as the opportunity to operate within a community,” Epstein elaborated on the program in a conversation with The Huffington Post.

“We endeavor to create a space where LGBTQ teens feel heard, supported, and recognized and we hope they can take that feeling of support with them through their daily lives,” Epstein concluded.

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