Queer In(n)

132 3Arts supporters
$17,276 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on May 14, 2021
    • 346% contributed

I am fundraising to launch the first phase of Queer In(n)—a curated, generative online gallery inspired by interviews with Chicago LGBTQIA+ and/or gender and sexually diverse youth/elders and their advocates. As a theater artist, much of my career has been devoted to writing, devising, and performing interview-based documentary theater. Several years ago, collaborators and I conducted 60 interviews that reflected the intersectional diversity of LGBTQIA+ communities. We endeavored to make a play, The Loneliness Project (TLP), which culminated in a devised workshop performance in 2018. We hoped TLP would bring intergenerational voices and artists together to explore historical and current issues impacting queer communities. Since that workshop, I’ve yearned to revive the project and reconnect with the interview subjects. Enter 2020: unprecedented social isolation and the undeniable call for social justice. Live performance ceased. Simultaneously, artists were out of work and demanding change. But restrictions often birth innovation. I was roused to wander into new territory and envision creation beyond theater. What if these interviews could inspire artists working in different mediums, spark inventive forms and create paid work for them? Enter Queer In(n). In phase one, we will commission three multidisciplinary Chicago queer artists and ask them each to creatively interpret one assigned project interview and make a new work based upon it, within their respective medium. These new creations will be presented as online installations on the Queer In(n) website, which aims to center and celebrate the histories, revolutions, and joys of queer lives. Your early investment in this project will create space for togetherness that honors both our history and our future, even when we are apart.

About This Project

Queer In(n) takes its name from twin inspirations:

First, it is an artistic digital refuge, not unlike an inn, where one can travel to a new place and stay awhile to find respite, connection, joy, and inspiration. Each subsequent return offers familiar comforts, with the potential to experience new “rooms.” At Queer In(n), all guests are welcome, but this project is intentional in its efforts to create home specifically for queer humans, storytellers, and artists. It’s a place to feel less alone and to see reflections of self in the radical revolutions and artistic excellence of queer contributions. Queer artists and activists have changed the zeitgeist from the beginning.

Second, it’s a site of non-violent resistance, taking its example from sit-ins and similar forms of occupied protest that call attention to the need for social and political systemic change through art. Queer In(n) will take all necessary steps to ensure an ethical framework for art making at all levels of engagement and collaboration.

I plan to work with collaborators Caitlin Kane, Al Evangelista, Reed Motz, and producing partner Adithi Chandrashekar to commission queer Chicago artists—muralists, composers, photographers, animators, actors, choreographers, and more—and pair each of them with an interviewee from The Loneliness Project. I am thrilled to announce our first pairing: the brilliant multidisciplinary artist Sam Kirk will make a wheat paste portrait of elder activist and bar owner Marge Summit.

Each artist in the project will propose a new work based on the selected interview and our team will curate and co-produce each segment from beginning to end—connecting artist/interviewee, collecting research, structuring revisions, documenting process, and shaping the final installment with an editor. Additionally, I will interview each artist before, during and after creation, and re-interview the subject whose words and life inspired the content and form.

This is an ambitious project. Down the line, I envision an expansive digital platform with monthly installments of new pieces and a commitment to long-term sustainability. But right now, we need an injection of support to get my dream off the ground. Donations to this campaign will support phase one, including: paying artists, interviewees, and the production team; funding costs of documentary equipment; and sourcing a web development team to construct our website. I am presently recruiting artists, brainstorming artist+interviewee pairings, and developing design ideas for this platform. My hope is to have a prototype of the website by December 2021.

My ethic is increasingly about love and visibility, and the art I explore and make with others is not separate from my activism—creating and performing work that celebrates the innumerable identities of gender and queerness and championing the historically underrepresented. This is my heart-song and my panacea—making art with, for, and by queer people. Art is essential to life, and all artists are essential workers! Your contribution is an investment in this belief, and your contribution is deeply appreciated.

List of original collaborators and contributors of The Loneliness Project:
SK Kerastas*
Bonnie Metzgar
About Face Theatre
Biz Wells
Patrick Andrews
Benjamin Sprunger
Caitlin Kane*
Reed Motz*
Al Evangelista*
Judson Rose
Andrew Volkoff
Chloe Johnston
Abigail Boucher

* Heartfelt thanks to SK, specifically, for their original idea to create a play about intergenerational loneliness and for writing and receiving the first grant (NEA) that produced the interviews and our first workshops. I also want to thank Caitlin, Reed, and Al for their years of hard work, talents, and dedication to telling these stories.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $10
    A personalized thank you on social media ($10.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $25
    Above, plus a handwritten thank you from the creative team ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above, plus your name honored on the project website ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above, plus access to a curated "Queer In(n)" playlist (15 songs we choose to go along with each installation and what it inspires) ($100.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Above, plus a digital download of the first "Queer In(n)" installation artwork ($175.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Above, plus a behind-the-scenes, 'sneak peek' directors cut video of the making of a new creative installation of artist/interview pairs ($300.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $750
    Above, plus a private digital 1-hour Q&A with creators (first 20 donations at this level also receive an original signed print by artist Sam Kirk, our first "Queer In(n)" contributor) ($0.00 is tax deductible.)

Kelli Simpkins

Merrill Lynch Awardee

Kelli Simpkins (she/they) is a theater, film, and television artist whose career has spanned thirty years. They are dedicated to telling stories often excluded from the mainstream that focus on class, queerness, disenfranchisement, and ‘the other.’ They are a company …

View Kelli Simpkins's profile
  • Update 1: Live tomorrow on OUT CHICAGO talking more about Queer In(n)! And enormous thanks to our donors thus far!
    Posted on April 10, 2021


    1. I will be talking live about Queer In(n) tomorrow 4/11 at 11:40 am, with my friend Scott Duff on OUT CHICAGO!  You can tune in on WCPT 820AM, stream on wcpt820.com, or watch on Facebook Live. (Either the OUT CHICAGO OR WCPT page).  Just wanted folx to know if you want to hear more about the project!  I am so happy and grateful that Scott asked me to talk with him about the campaign, its inception and its future.  Tune in if you are able!  

    2.  We are almost two weeks out from our launch date and I am completely floored and in awe!  We reached our intial goal in two days and we are now more than halfway to our stretch goal of $15,000, with a month still to go.  I do not have the words to express the depth of my appreciation for your generosity, kindness and support of our project!  Your contributions and belief in Queer In(n) have moved us enormously and have given us the confidence to dream with even more ambition!  We will be announcing more pairings soon and Sam Kirk will start working on her portrait of Marge in the next few months. Please know how grateful we are and how meaningful your support is-- we were incredibly excited about the work prior to this campaign but now and because of you, we simply cannot wait to begin and share Queer In(n)'s evolution with you.  Heartfelt thanks!!!


    Update 2: IMMENSE THANKS
    Posted on May 19, 2021


    Our campaign ended last Friday and I wanted to share an update of gratitude! We surpassed our stretch goal of $15,000 and raised $17, 276 and it is all because of your generosity and kindness! We are in total shock and awe!  There are no words to express how full our hearts are or how deep our appreciation is to each of our contributors!  You have made this dream real and you have given us enormous hope in its future. 

    I have said this to many of you: we often think of donations as merely transactional, physical money given to something or someone charitably.  But in sharing this campaign, I have learned how much contributions extend beyond the physical and become incredibly emotional-- in addition to the monetary donation, each gift is a cheer from the sidelines, a supportive hand up, a message to keep going.  It was so heart warming and deeply moving and I am so grateful to all of you for your gifts!  I simply cannot wait to share Queer In(n)'s evolution with you.  We are indebted to each one of you and we will continue to think of you as we build the In(n)!

    A final note of thanks to 3Arts, who gifted the first third of the $5000 we raised and participated in every step of this campaign: for your investment in Chicago artists, your monumental generosity and your belief that art is necessary to life and artists should be valued and championed.  Thank you!  Queer In(n) is possible through 3AP and their astonishing support. 

    A few udates:

    1. We started the first in a series of interviews with our first pairing: Sam Kirk and Marge Summit. Sam is going to start her initial round of portrait making in the coming weeks.  We will be doing a studio visit in mid-June to interview Sam and get some footage mid-process. And we will interview Marge again in early June.

    2. We are thrilled to announce that the portrait Sam ultimately makes of Marge will be hung in a bar in Andersonville, THE CALL, which is Marge's favorite bar.  She and her wife, Janan, got married and had their wedding reception at The Call. Since Marge owned the gay bar His 'n Hers for numerous years, it feels perfect that the portrait of this queer activist will hang in her favorite queer bar. 










    Update 3: UNVEILING
    Posted on July 08, 2021


    Queer In(n) logo

    We are very excited to invite you to our first Queer In(n) unveiling! 

    July 21st at THE CALL 1547 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue

    6-7pm—for those of you in the Chicago area, please join us in person!

    We will unveil the very first artwork for the very first installation that will open the Queer In(n) website!

    Artist Sam Kirk has made a stunning 5X6 wheat paste portrait of interviewee Marge Summit, which will be on display at The Call on July 21st.  Since Marge was a queer bar owner for years and was married at The Call,  her favorite bar in town now, we thought it would be the perfect LGBTQ spot to showcase a work inspired by this activist icon.  We will toast Marge and Sam at this time and since your contributions and support made this first installation a reality, we would love for you to join us at the unveiling!

    And if you can't make it, know that it will be hanging in The Call for the near future- so you can go and support a local LGBTQ bar and see the portrait in person! 

    If you have any questions, please email me: kelli.simpkins7@gmail.com

    Update 4: Unveiling reminder
    Posted on July 19, 2021



    We hope you'll join us for the unveiling of Queer In(n)'s very first installation: a portrait of queer activist and elder Marge Summit created by the incomparable Sam Kirk. Your support of Queer In(n) has been so instrumental in kickstarting this dream and making this work. It would mean the world to us to see you at The Call in Andersonville, this Wednesday, July 21, any time from 6-7 p.m.!


    Posted on July 26, 2021


    Mama Gloria Allen

    As we begin the editing process for our first and now completed Installation #1 with Sam Kirk and Marge Summit (the inaugural unveiling was sublime and we are so grateful to Sam for her brilliant art and to Marge for her story and all the interviews they both did)-- we are thrilled to begin Installation #2!  We are beyond excited to announce that our second interviewee will be Mama Gloria Allen.  She is an elder trailblazer in Chicago's transgender community, who is also an activist, leader, teacher and icon!  She is the subject of a recent documentary film called "Mama Gloria" and a play called "Charm," based on the Charm School she ran for LGBTQ+ kids at The Center on Halsted.  We are equally excited to announce the team who will be creating an operatic aria based on her interview/story.  That team includes librettist, Marquese Carter, composer and musician Matthew Recio and vocalist Jalissa Spell. Individual interviews with the artists and with Mama will begin in August. Marquese will finish the libretto in September, then Matthew will compose and edit the aria with Marquese and begin rehearsing with Jalissa this fall.  The aria will be unveiled in November!  We will interview Mama and the artistic team at the unveiling.  Immense thanks to everyone who donated to make this work possible!  We cannot wait to share it very soon!

    Update 6: Queer In(n) Instagram
    Posted on September 02, 2021


    We have a new Instagram and we would love all of our donors to follow us!

    Our Instagram address is: @queer_inn

    As the official Queer In(n) website will likely not be ready until early 2022, our Instagram @queer_inn is where we will start showcasing the work, snippets of interviews, introductions to the artists we are commissioning and the interviewees whose stories are being interpreted.  It is also where we will be posting any teasers or upcoming events!  The first commissioned portrait of Marge Summit by artist Sam Kirk is on our Instagram, as are the bios of our first installation team and photos of our second team.

    IF you know anyone else you might appreciate the work we are doing, please pass along our info.

    Thanks again to everyone one of you who have made these first installations possible!

    Update 7: Join us for Queer In(n)'s Installation No.2
    Posted on November 21, 2021
     Queer In(n) Invitation


    Join Queer In(n) Nov. 27th at 6:30 p.m. at The Call for the unveiling of Installation No. 2

    Dear Friends,

    Adithi and I are so grateful for the support you have shown and given to Queer In(n) and we would love to thank you in person during our unveiling of Installation No. 2: An Aria Honoring Trans Icon Mama Gloria Allen.  We'd love for you to join us next Saturday, November 27 for a live performance of the 15-minute aria celebrating Mama Gloria's life, with a reception with Gloria and the artists to follow, and experience the true and meaningful impact of your investment in Queer In(n).

    For those of you who live outside of Chicago and/or cannot make it on the 27th, please know this aria will live on our website in the future. Prior to the performance and reception at The Call (1547 W. Bryn Mawr at 6:30 p.m.), Valhalla Media will capture the aria for our future home, queeninn.com. Mama Gloria will hear the aria for the first time, and we will bring our artists and honored elder together for an interview—the final intergenerational piece of the installation. (The theater, unfortunately, cannot allow an audience at this time, hence our performance and reception afterward at The Call.)

    We remain so grateful for your friendship, patronage, and encouragement. We hope to see you next Saturday at 6:30 p.m!


    Kelli + Adithi

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Adithi Chandrashekar

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Don Baiocchi

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make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council