New York-based artist Earth Ængel is an international artist and curator whose work not only challenges traditional notions of gender and sexuality but also serves as a powerful reflection on how capitalism affects consumption and production. Their pieces depart from their own non-binary trans experience in a heterocentric capitalistic society. Earth Ængel’s creations embody a fantastical queer ecology, offering a unique lens through which to explore human existence and societal values that are not normative and yet necessary to create lasting positive change for the planet, reflecting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Consumption and Production.
Earth Ængel’s art is a profound exploration of queer perspectives in response to a capitalistic existence. As humanity grapples with the possibility of collective surrender to capitalism and human extinction, they create a final homage to the natural human condition by abandoning capitalist ideologies. Rather than attempting to shame these values, the artist tames, ingests, and processes items that are products of large capitalistic productions, ultimately transforming them into an archive of predetermined aesthetics—an afterlife for the remnants of capitalism.
The artist lays out their process as a lecturer in workshops like Meltdown of Aesthetics at the Tyler Glass Program. Here, participants are encouraged to explore their contemporary technique of melting down materials and aesthetics in a thoughtful practice. They begin by incorporating non-traditional or found materials that resonate with the individual participant’s practices and symbolize a collective effort to challenge established norms that art can only be made with traditional supplies found in art stores.
Ængel’s approach to material use involves a deep examination of their roots in white supremacist hetero-centric values within a capitalist society. Hence, the artist employs heat-related practices, utilizing glass, metal, and body wax as transformative tools for found materials. Through these mediums, the artist channels the queer flexibility and sheer honesty of the earth, aiming to regenerate and initiate dramatically different cycles for these objects. In Ængel’s hands, readily available consumerist objects are transformed and recycled into forces that are friendlier to both queer people and Mother Nature.
Take, for example, their mainly glass sculpture titled Medium Spicy Moat Regeneration. Here, Ængel, in collaboration with Sasha Fishman explores the impact of the Sassoon Family, one of the wealthiest families in the East, on globalization and the supply chain. The use of diverse materials, such as star anise, shells, and moonstones, creates a visually stunning narrative. They gather these materials by exchanging studio residues with their collaborators and melting them together. This process allows the artist to question the hierarchies of perceived value systems within the industrialized complex, all while processing personal narratives that are tied to the theme at hand.
Collaboration is also a key part of their process. Partnering primarily with other queer artists, Earth Ængel explores how queerness builds, grows, communicates, and interacts with art. The absence of queerness in everyday life becomes a source of abandonment, belonging, struggles, anger, healing, and new ideas of being that they channel into their process. Ængel envisions queerness as a bottomless well of opportunity, growth, and discovery—a force running parallel to and skimming the surface of another world.
As a guest curator at the Gallery Below Grand in New York City, Earth Ængel spearheads the upcoming group show titled Kenophobic Pantomimes. This exhibition aims to push queer visibility into heterocentric colonial spaces of capitalism unapologetically. Kenophobia, the fear of wide-open spaces, serves as a poignant metaphor for countering the fearful aesthetics of violent and industrialized modernism present in contemporary art.
Earth Ængel’s oeuvre transcends traditional boundaries, inviting viewers to reconsider societal norms, question the foundations of capitalism, and explore the richness of queer aesthetics. By channelling the wildness of the earth and engaging in collaborative practices, Ængel becomes a trailblazer in the realm of contemporary art, embodying the principles of gender fluidity and responsible consumption and production. Through each creation, Earth Ængel encourages a reevaluation of established systems, inviting society to change and striving to constantly better itself.