Una Novotny, BFF Intern, written after an interview with Dana Jeck and Kaissa Inzunza
Art has historically been known to push the boundaries of societal norms, and has represented the changes that we make as a society to better ourselves and our understanding of others. However, in order for those changes to occur, we must continuously be critical of how things are working, and create spaces that allow voices to be heard that may otherwise go unnoticed.
This May, Omaha artists Kaissa Inzunza and Dana Jeck traveled for the second year in a row to the weekend long skate competition “Wheels of Fortune” in Washington. The event started 9 years ago, and as their website states, “is the longest running and largest skateboard showcase featuring female-identified (cisgender or trans), trans, and gender non-conforming athletes from around the world.”
As both artists are also skaters who identify as queer females, they were inspired by the immense amount of love and support that came from everyone in attendance, and the fact that a space exists to allow for the combination of their multiple passions, as well as providing a large platform for all of them to be shown, which may not be as available in other places.
Their experience last year led to six portraits, which portrayed 2017’s finalists and incorporate the distinct styles of both artists. They were drafted and finished over the course of two months while traveling throughout the West Coast on their way to Wheels of Fortune, and were displayed over the weekend, where they were seen not only by many of those finalists that returned in 2018, but by so many others that had been inspired by them as well. This portrait series will be shown along with Kaissa's independent work at Hugo's Gallery on July 27th.
Until recently, most professional skateboarders were male, and most representations of skating in mass media and pop culture stereotyped skateboarders as such. This event has grown in popularity, and many of the finalists they had seen only a year ago in 2017 are now sponsored by major brands, helping to break the stigma that all serious skaters are straight males.
This increased visibility has inspired many non-male identifying people to feel comfortable enough to enter
the skate community. Kaissa and Dana have brought this back to Omaha, and share the positivity and inclusivity
with our community. They have personally inspired me
as well as many others to be a part of Girl’s Skate Night,
which provides an area for people of all ages who may
feel excluded in other areas to develop their skills in an accepting and non judgemental environment.
As an intern with Benson First Friday, I have come to understand more deeply how important it is for communities to support their creatives, especially those whose work may not be accepted into other areas, whether it be because of the content, bias against the artist, or simply because they cannot afford to have it displayed elsewhere.
With this accessibility as well as inspiration from Dana, Kaissa, and so many others in the community that are working to create inclusive spaces, I am curating a show highlighting the work as well as the experiences of trans, queer, or non-gender conforming people, in which Kaissa’s independent paintings will be featured. The topic the show will mainly explore is how sex, sensuality, and self image is seen by those whose bodies or sexualities are not represented in the media or in society as a whole. Through learning from and understanding others we continue to grow the community into a place where everyone is encouraged to express every aspect of themselves.
If you are a visual, written, or performance artist and are interested in being a part of this upcoming September show, submit work to www.bensonfirstfriday.com/showcase.html
Our Newsroom editors are current interns of BFF - most are students at UNO.