Beautifully painted American landscapes set the stage for artist Cobi Moules’ personal narrative relating to his queer and transgender identity in a free, public exhibition entitled “Bois Just Wanna Have Fun,” on display in the Samek Art Museum‘s Downtown Gallery, 416 Market Street, Lewisburg, Dec. 10 through March 8. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Moules grew up in rural California, enveloped by the expansive western landscape by his family’s strict religious teachings. He found an outlet in art; painting pictures on his grandmother’s porch. In art school, Moules encountered the Hudson River Valley school of painting whose depictions of an omnipotent and sublime natural world seemed to echo his family’s religious beliefs.
The grand landscapes and romantic style of the Hudson River Valley school became part of an early American narrative of natural purity and limitless expansion. Moules chose this painting tradition as a backdrop to tell his own story as a queer and trans individual. His paintings invoke this tradition as a foil, substituting exalted certainty with nuanced questions.
Hudson River Valley painters often depicted tiny figures in a vast landscape to visually underscore the overwhelming majesty of nature. Moules’ spirited figures — duplicate versions of the artist — occupy and overrun his “limitless” landscapes. These bois (a bit of genderqueer slang) replace solemn spirituality with playful mischievousness.