We had the good fortune of connecting with Sidney Chuckas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sidney, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
“Leave your issues at the door” is a statement made often within creative spaces and is a phrase that can be extremely harmful to others, especially if those other bodies have been historically marginalized or victims of violence. The progress of Art, and other creative fields, relies heavily on the lived experiences of others and their personal relationships with concepts, communities, and physical spaces. So when we ask someone at the beginning of a creative process to be “issue free”, we are essentially asking them to completely sacrifice their own identity and artistry while simultaneously minimizing the experiences that most likely fuel what they do and who they are. Practices that include this type of exclusive language promote the continuous erasure of certain bodies, such as people of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ identities. I would predict that a long-term consequence of continuing to use language like this would be that the creative world becomes stagnant and monotonous, where “top-funded” artists (who disproportionately are white and/or cis-male) continue to minimize, appropriate, and erase the experiences and perspectives of others, violently pushing our society further from inclusion and equity. Furthermore, this type of exclusive language help to remove one of the most essential aspects that make the creative world so vibrant and accessible to people of all identities: the diversity of thought, experiences, and opinion. Instead of asking artists to “leave their issues at the door”, we as a creative community should be open to conversation and encourage ourselves and the artists we work with to acknowledge life’s challenges and learn to cope in ways that are productive and healthy to ourselves and the communities we participate in. Although we should never project our traumas onto others, we must provide the space to heal.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I create and educate through my art practices which span many fields including dance, architecture, music, fine art, and technology. As a black, queer man from Evanston, IL my life experiences training as a concert dancer for the past 16 years in mostly white spaces, has led me to dive deep, introspectively, into finding my own sense of identity, my passion for innovation, and my drive to be an activist for social change and sustainability. And this “soul-searching” and constant research is really what drives my art forward. With an educational background in both Architecture and Dance, I have hopes to become the creative director of an artistic creative firm with a mission to restore, amplify, and preserve the voices and narratives of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ creatives as well as provide safe spaces for international creativity, collaboration, and innovation. I truly cannot imagine my life without art, the many people who have so graciously given their time and energy to me, and the supportive community I am privileged to be a part of in Evanston and here in Los Angeles.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite things to do is explore new neighborhoods so sometimes I will just pick a neighborhood I have yet to spend lots of time in, do some research on the area and its history, and then simply go be an observer. I also love architecture and the outdoors so I would most likely take them to some of my favorite parks, buildings, and places with sweeping views of the cityscape such as the Hollyhock House, The Universal City Overlook, Griffith Observatory, and Runyon Canyon. Additionally, I love fashion, the fine arts, and design so a walk down Melrose Avenue, a visit to LACMA and the Broad Museum, a moment in the thrift stores in Silver Lake and Echo Park, and a stroll around the Art District would also be on the list for sure. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to my mothers who have sacrificed more than I could ever describe or understand so that I could be the person I wanted to be and do the things I wanted to do. I would not be the artist or human I am today without their graciousness, their love, and their continuous support. I you are reading this moms, I love you both to the stars and beyond!
Facebook: Sidney Chuckas
Photos by Erin Bates, Sidney Chuckas, Mary Mallaney, Taylor Upsahl, and Colton Woods