AN INTERVIEW WITH SYLVIE PIQUET, STEAMBOAT CREATES
THIS AUGUST, STEAMBOAT CREATES will be hosting its first ever Queer + Out in Routt art exhibit, showcasing self-expression and self-empowerment from the LGBTQIA2S+ community and their allies at the Depot Art Center. Through the years, the Depot Art Center has been home to nationally and internationally known artists, social impact exhibits, community member shows and more. The building has served as a home for the arts since 1972 and is currently the home base for Steamboat Creates, Steamboat Springs’ certified Creative District. Art with Altitude recently talked to Sylvie Piquet, about Steamboat Creates, Pivot Point and their upcoming exhibit.
AWA: How does Steamboat Creates serve the Routt County community?
SYLVIE: Steamboat Creates is celebrating 50 years as the foundational organization for arts in the Depot Art Center—this place has a rich history of welcoming a diversity of creatives and community members into its doors. Fifty years ago, a group of passionate community members decided the town needed a place where artists could share their work, so they restored the Depot turning it into a home for artists and creatives. We fill the building with a weekly Writer’s Group, free jam sessions/open mic nights, artists at all levels of their careers (we even have a free artist membership for those wanting to test the artistic waters), free and year-round First Friday Artwalks, and scholarships programs such as Pivot Point and Young at Art camps (to name just a few of our programs!).
AWA: Where did the idea for a Queer Art Exhibit stem from?
SYLVIE: Steamboat Creates’ Pivot Point: Creative Tools for Personal Empowerment is an expressive arts program that combines mental health-informed practices and creative workshops for a different demographic or theme each year. 2021 Pivot Point was focused on the LGBTQIA2S+ local community and their allies. This was the result of the invisibility of this sector of our community and need for tangible support for self-expression and connection. Through Pivot Point, Steamboat Creates provided creative workshops and became part of the fabric of the LGBTQIA+ community, supporting Yampa Valley Pride’s first celebration.
AWA: Why do think an exhibit dedicated to queer art is needed in our community?
SYLVIE: Visibility provides protection and, ultimately, increased empowerment. Providing a platform for a queer-centric art show allows for that visibility to an otherwise marginalized and silenced group in Routt County. Too often it is difficult to express complicated emotions and experiences through words. Art provides an approachable vehicle to self-expression, learning and connection.
AWA: Can you speak a little about Pivot Point and some revelations that came out of this year’s program?
SYLVIE: We learned that there are disparate groups within the queer community as well as a lot of LGBTQIA2S+ individuals and youth who feel isolated. We are deeply grateful to the Moniker Founda
who believed in the focus demographic of LGBTQIA2S+ for 2021 Pivot Point and supported the program, making scholarships for participants a reality. Overall, we learned that there is more robust support for LGBTQIA2S+ individuals in our community than it appears on the surface. Visibility of this support is essential for the mental health of our community as well as its vibrancy.
AWA: Tell us about the Allies United Creative Gatherings for the LGBTQIA2S+ community and allies
SYLVIE: As an extension of 2021 Pivot Point and in partnership with Yampa Valley Pride, Allies United is continuing monthly creative gatherings where all are welcome! LGBTQIA2S+, allies and families are encouraged to come for creation and connection. This is an informal opportunity for meeting community members, sharing resources and getting artsy together. All ages welcome (guardians must accompany those under 12 years old). Donations are accepted at the door.
AWA: What are the biggest challenges for the LGBTQIA2S+ community in rural areas? Or, are there any?
SYLVIE: One of the biggest challenges Routt County faces is the invisibility and lack of apparent gender and sexuality diversity. The GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) teacher said that students felt like they would need to leave Steamboat after high school graduation because they couldn’t imagine expressing themselves fully, finding a job and having a family here. That is heartbreaking because we are losing talent and beautiful fibers of our community because they are different and feel excluded from the greater community. Routt County can make this a truly welcoming place—not tolerant, but accepting—by visibly supporting the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Ask questions respectfully, be curious, introduce yourself with your preferred pronouns, ask about someone’s partner rather than assuming it is a wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend.
ELEVATE THE ARTS:
Submit your artwork for the “Queer + Out in Routt” art show at the Depot Art Center this August, 2022 and/or join the group of volunteers who run the Allies United Creative Gatherings; join the Pivot Point task force; join the Yampa Valley Pride committee; attend the annual Pride celebration in Steamboat on June 25th. Email [email protected] with questions and interest.