Rachel Slakter

BFA in Art & Design

My thesis project is an immersive installation consisting of two different studios, an interactive photo set titled, “The Wall of Faces” and a separate photo gallery titled, “Drag Photography Gallery.” Both works are inspired by the vibrance and diversity found in contemporary drag culture and share aesthetic inspiration from the 1960s and 1970s bold and colorful interior design trends. I exercised fine art and photo art direction skills in the making of my drag illustration adorned photo set and displayed my photography work with various queens based throughout Michigan in my drag photography gallery. Through this interactive installation, people are invited to get their photo taken in the photo-set wearing various drag costumes and wigs I made over the past three years. Viewers would leave the studio space with the feeling of joy and a better understanding of the vibrance and diversity found in contemporary drag culture.

Miniatures of my thesis installation: Studio #1, “Wall of Faces” and Studio #2, “Drag Photography Gallery”

Studio 1: “Wall of Faces” features an interactive photo set where people could have their photo taken by me. The walls of the photo set are covered with my drag illustrations of diverse, vibrant, avant-garde, and colorful contemporary drag looks. These drawings would have been large, hanging over 10 feet of purple painted horizontal wall space and 5 square feet of purple floor space. Each drawing would have been scanned and resized then printed and hung in custom made circular chartreuse and lime green frames. The frames on the ground would have been made from green foam core for people to stand on while taking their photo. Visitors would have been photographed on the set wearing costumes and wigs that I made over the past three years that would be hanging on a clothing rack between the two studios.

Studio 2: “Drag Photography Gallery” features my documentary work photographing drag queens throughout Michigan as well as drag photos from my performance piece, “Mannequeens.” Unfortunately many of my long term photography projects were suspended so I only featured two series in this mock-up.

Drag illustrations for my “Wall of Faces.” Pen, ink, and markers. The black and white drawings would have been completed in full color for the final installation.

Images for the walls of my “Drag Photography Gallery” Studio #2.

This selection of photos is from a photo series that illustrates the lives of contemporary drag artists of various gender and sexual identities throughout Michigan. Walls 1 & 3 have images from my documentary photography series on Tyler Hall who goes by the drag name Perry Dox and lives in Flint, MI. My time documenting Tyler was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19. I also intended on completing another documentary photography series on a queen named Nova who is present in a few of the photos of Tyler.

Selected images from my documentary photography series on Tyler Hall aka Perry Dox.

Images for the walls of my “Drag Photography Gallery” Studio #2.

Wall 2 features photos from my performance piece “Mannequeens.” This video piece starred three queens, Daya-Bee-Dee, Ariana Grindr, and Caffeyne Luv going for a girls night out to the club performing in costumes Imade for each of them. The costumes the three queens wore on this kaleidoscopic and colorful night would have been available for viewers of my thesis project to try on and have their photo taken in at the “Wall of Faces” photo set in Studio #1. The queens in these images inspired many of my drag illustrations. Meeting them was one of the best experiences of my college career and telling their stories and realities through documentary photography was a privilege and honor I wish I had more time to do justice.

Selected stills from “Mannequeens” performance piece, December 6th, 2019.