I Don't go to
Going through the artistic process is sometimes the very thing that unveils the project.
we've been building this together + individually, since the beginning, we didn't know what it was until NOW.
this is the story
Andy B | O. Snap!
jenn freeman | po'chop
Hell bent on creating a repertoire that sparked conversations regarding notions of gender, sexual prowess, and race, Jenn Freeman made her debut as burlesque artist Po’Chop in 2010. With over a decade of dance training including studying at Columbia College Chicago, Po'Chop uses elements of dance, storytelling, and striptease to create performances that are described by Chicago critics as "...the most provocative symbol of might onstage...It was as if Po'Chop had captured lightning in a bottle and the bottle was herself." Since Po's debut she has seared across many US stages. From New Orleans and New York, where she performed at the Brooklyn Museum in Brown Girls Burlesque’s Bodyspeak to St. Louis and Minneapolis. Though any opportunity to perform is met with an indescribable ferocity, Po' relishes and considers being a Jeezy Juke Joint board member and creating + performing, Black As Eye Wanna Be (last seen as apart of Steppenwolf's LookOut series) career highlights. Po’Chop was a participant in the 2016 RDDI Chicago Dance Lab, and a recent CO-Mission resident at Chicago's Links Hall.
Po’Chop is the meat so, sweet even vegetarians want to take a bite!
Andy Bellomo (AKA “Andy B”) is a queer female visual artist, public mural artist, teacher and performer. She is founder and owner of Street Glass Productions, a company that creates large-scale public murals within Chicago and across the country. Specializing in hand-cut glass, she has worked on over 40 murals in the city of Chicago, and has been teaching mural arts to teens for over 10 years. As a full-time artist, she divides her time between creating large-scale murals, educating youth, doing commissioned glasswork and performing as a drag king (Her drag name is: O. Snap!). On any given day, you can find her slicing up glass, designing artwork, or at a show or performance in support of fellow queer artists. Her newest collaboration is the creation of a queer, women-led mural art collective, including visual artists from multiple disciplines. Together, they have pitched the first-ever large-scale mural project depicting the history of LGBTQ people in Chicago. Andy has a strong belief in collaboration and the cross-promotion of fellow artists and queer community members. She is a dynamic member of the arts and LGBTQ community and a strong activist and advocate for social change and human rights.
Gallery of Andy's Work. Double click to enlarge.
Selections from po'chop's body of work
i grew up in the church. a swarming community of love and safety. my family are practicing christians. my mother is a preacher's wife. i am a thirty-two year old, black, queer artist. when i was 18 i told my family as much. and that single act shattered the mirage of christianity's unconditional love. my artistic practice was born in a church. paper fans shushing wild children. moans. swaying torsos. i would dance between the aisles or at the bottom of the pulpit. to this day i still take a moment before performing to speak to the ancestors (then i called them god). despite the shifting of my beliefs my plea hasn't changed. let them see less of me and more of you.
since the entrance of po'chop. i have been exploring spirituality in my work as a means to heal. allowing myself to muster the madness to a create a holy world where my black queer body is safe. where queer folks can worship whatever/whomever. a space to process. confront. the ugliness that is often times hurled at us between scared wall.s. a space to re-imagine faith.
It was through attending church that I was first introduced to stained glass. I would sit in pews gazing at the colored light as it passed through the windows filling the room. it was within these same color tinted walls that I first heard homosexuality condemned and though church became something I feared, years later I found myself working with stained glass as means to talk about my queer experience. I have left the church behind and the glass has become my savior.
Excerpt from Dynamite
Lost in the World
Home | Here
andy reflects on church
Jenn reflects on church
2011: Andy enrolls in a burlesque class led by Po'Chop. The two meet and instantly because "sisters" + collaborators
2014: Black As Eye Wanna Be
Po'Chop: Created + Performed
Andy: Performed + Props
2016: Produced Queer Line together.
2014: For Women By Women
Andy Showed Art
together, we have been creating safe spaces for queer folks to be seen and our stories to be heard. we have been creating art that ignites conversations regarding love, divorce, black + queer identity, family rejection, mental illness and more. our work is vulnerable and allows space for marginalized individuals to be celebrated.
All of the experiences we've shared over the past 6 years. Building skills, nurturing relationships, deepening our artistic practices have been leading us to this project.
I Don't go to
I Don't Go to Church Anymore is an interdiscplinary exhibition that merges the artistic practices of stained glass artist Andy Bellomo and performance|burlesque artist Po'Chop.
Together we aim to examine notions of faith, worship and spirituality through our queer lens. Our intentions are to create a space that encourages queer folk to reflect on our past, present, and future relationship with spirituality.
My process for building the performance element of I Don't Go to Church Anymore will be grounded in my Lorde. In the work of Audre Lorde. It is through her writing. her life. her ideology that I found the freedom to rethink and examine my relationship with spirituality. A Litany to Surival is recited as prayer every time I step into a space to create. I will explore the notion of the holy spirit through improvisation while exploring movements that are often associated with "praise dancing". I will also listen and move to audio of her work. Throughout this process I will be asking myself" How can I connect with her spirit through movement? What does praise look like worshiping a black woman as god, as my personal savior?"
My process for building the “church structure” will encompass research, story gathering and then rebuilding these memories into glass. I will begin with documenting memories from my early experiences in church and the significant connection that I developed with stained glass. Next, I’ll gather stories of other LGBTQ community members about their personal experiences in church, past and present. In addition, I’ll explore what has been written about the history of our LGBTQ community and its connection and disconnection to church. Where did we gather, congregate when deemed unwelcome in churches and religious spaces? As I look for answers and gather stories, I will begin to work out the design for the structure. During this process, my goal will be to begin to form visual elements that can be used in building a full glass structure that encompasses these stories. It will be built to hold the creation and performance of Jenn Freeman and her reflection and connection to the Lordes work.
jenn | po'chop's process
i began this process of exploring movement and the holy spirit
during the shooting of 'Holy'. Check out the video. Andy's work is also featured.
Who is I Don't Go to Church Anymore For?
This project is intended for those who struggle to reconcile their identity with the church for LGBTQA individuals who grew up in families rooted in religion; for those who identify as LGBTQA and seek healing from the trauma of being cast away. I Don't Go to Church Anymore is intended as a space for those who wish to redefine notions of faith, love, and community, and for anyone who is connected to spirituality in a non-traditional sense. It is also for our allies, who want to support this work as a way of fighting for equality.
What is the desired outcome/impact of your project?
Our intention is to incite conversations regarding faith and the sometimes unspoken trauma the LGBTQA community experiences. This project aims to provide tools for folks to heal and process through art. We aim to create a safe space for folks to connect with others who share similar stories.