My Self-Portrait Twinkies talk about gay street life in the late 60s. Style was a grab bag of anything in the culture that someone can pull together into significant form. It's based on individual elements from life pulled together into greater unity. Fashion/style works for people searching for their own manifestation of themselves. It happens in a way that is totally mysterious to the streets. We see this with Marsha P. Johnson and Agosto Machado for example. Inspiration comes from everywhere with a unique quality that is all theirs. I was very young when I started making these sculptures, a teenager when I was first in NY. I had just got my first apartment ($35 a month) and finally had privacy, and I was able to express myself.
About these works:
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt has spent the last forty years breaking rules and tearing down barriers. His glittering mixed-media constructions speak directly to the kinds of experiences and issues most people prefer not to talk about at dinner parties – sex, class and religion. Born and raised in the multi-ethnic Catholic enclaves of Elizabeth and Linden, New Jersey, Lanigan-Schmidt’s work reveals a subtly articulated gay and working-class consciousness as well as an encyclopedic understanding of theological, philosophical and aesthetic ideas/ideals. His audacious mixed-media constructions and installations, stapled and taped from all manner of found material and glittering oddments, have given form to his experiences in the New York City environments of the Lower East Side and Hell’s Kitchen. He has been a pioneer both in his use of reflective and alternative materials (plastic, Mylar, colored foils, chenille stems, household staples) and in his unique confluence of aesthetics, religious and secular thought. His art celebrates gay sensibility and history not simply through the lens of homoeroticism, but through the more complex path of materiality and process. Lanigan-Schmidt’s works continue to explore the relationship between “high” and “low” culture. Drawing on the kinds of “collectible” souvenirs so often marketed to working and middle-class families (e.g. aspirational clothing, commemorative plates, figurines, decorative kitchen accessories and the like), these glittering and entirely non-functional objects are replete with images drawn from Hollywood movies, theological texts, commercial kitsch and personal mementos. These self-portaits are standing on linoleum tile he ripped up from of his New York City apartment. In the center are photographs he took in photo booths, which he collaged over to outfit himself in elaborate dresses and gowns to express themes of gender fluidity long before there was a term for it.