Contributing an important piece to ComplexCon’s discourse about the past, present, and future of pop culture, Queer Kicks invites viewers to explore the connection of identity, self-expression, and the love of sneakers viewed from the queer perspective. Curated by San Francisco-based Schlomer Haus Gallery and presented by Hijinx Arts, this group exhibition uses sneaker culture as a microcosm to explore the effects of personal identity on style and pop culture as a whole.

In Queer Kicks, twelve artists from across the LGBTQIA spectrum bring their views into the greater discussion of arts and culture, and who/what moves the needle between popular and unpopular, offering a more holistic picture of the world.

Queer Kicks
Artwork by Nonamey for Complex Con 2023

With the simple prompt to look at sneakerhead culture through a Queer lens, each artist was given the freedom to explore the subject in their own way. Abel Rodriguez, Carlos Rodriguez, Daniel Clurman, Devynn Barnes, Geep, Goku Mcafee, Hunter Harvey, Michael Thế Khôi Trần, Nonamey, Samuel Richardson, Taylor Nicholson, and Thomas Pilnik contribute paintings, ceramics, and sculpture installations that challenge style and identity within a culture that has traditionally been dominated by heteronormative narratives. Each piece is a new work created specifically for the ComplexCon fanbase.

Schlomer Haus explains, “Sneakers have long been more than just shoes – they are canvases for self-expression and reflections of our individuality. In an era where personal style and self-identity play crucial roles in our everyday lives, sneakers – now considered an essential accessory of modern life – have evolved from just footwear into symbols of empowerment, community, and artistic expression.”

The exhibition asks viewers to look beyond the surface of fashion, style, design and music to examine the complexities of what it means to be queer. Just as sneaker culture celebrates individuality and creativity, so too does the LGBTQIA community fight for self-expression and identity, pushing boundaries, and embracing diversity in a world that often demands conformity.

Discussing the upcoming show, Schlomer Haus gallerist and owner Steffan Schlarb looks forward to the exploration of Queer joy. “People get obsessed with sneakers and it’s something that they take a lot of pleasure in, both collecting and showing off their collections. This is an exciting opportunity to celebrate sneaker culture as something Queer people can claim and take joy in.”

Queer Kicks highlights the desire to be seen, inspire, and empower LGBTQIA sneakerheads, with an exploration of art, identity, sneakers, and queerness on view November 18 – November 19, 2023 at ComplexCon.

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