A Safe Place for Art and Empathy

Hosting Visual Conversations

Through August 31
The Hive, St. Pete
Details here

Hive Pottery St. Pete is a studio that has created a safe place for uncomfortable conversations focused on transgender youth. This includes a safe place for opposing views, too.

Forbidden Fruit is a 13-piece art exhibit at The Hive. It was director Heather Tinnaro’s brainchild. As a mom with an LGBTIQA+ child in the Florida educational system, she feels that education is under attack.

“It’s being dismantled piece by piece,” Tinnaro says. “Those are solely my feelings on it, and I wanted to give the community an opportunity to share their feelings on it. Not only on education as it’s happening, but on their own educations and what the meaning of that was to them. And on either side. I know that it can be super divisive.

“We represent artists of all genders, preferences and ages. Keeping our curatorial doors open to everyone is part of our mission. This show was not intended to be a show about trans-ness, but about education and its place in our lives.

“Though the work that we were offered does relate a good deal to the trans experience, our hope was that people of many different experiences would share them with us. And they did. One artist is a cisgendered septuagenarian. Her piece speaks to her own life as a learning process. Another spoke about classical values in education.

“We are so gratified to be allowed to support our incredibly diverse community through shows like this.”

Urine for a Treat by Mad Weber

A piece that quickly draws your attention after walking through the doorway is Urine for a Treat, a ceramic urinal made from giant nails. Studio manager Emmett Freeman says this piece is the work of Mad Weber. Many perceptions can come from this artwork.

“This piece evokes the struggle a trans man feels when they enter a men’s restroom,” Freeman says. “I don’t have the writing or voice from Mad at this point to know exactly their points on it. But I’m feeling that piece is the experience about not being welcomed in a certain bathroom. It’s like a violent urinal. A ceramic object that we find only in a binary stall.

“There’s probably a thousand ways you could look at [this artwork], depending on where you come from,” Freeman says. “I think that’s the power of art.”

Safety concerns were expressed by Tinnaro for LGBTIQA+ students. “They are hazed, teased and given grief over their sexuality,” Tinnaro says. “But still, they go to school every day knowing that they could be hazed even by teachers. And they have no recourse.

“High school has never felt like a great place to be. Now it’s unsafe.”

Tinnaro and Freeman hope The Hive can be a safe place for people with all views to get together and discuss – at least visually – where they feel education is serving and not serving children and adults.

“The Hive is a safe place for all different walks of life,” Freeman says. “That’s what we try really hard to facilitate here. Especially our community and culture — with the exhibitions we run and the things we represent like Forbidden Fruit.”

photo by Skyla Luckey

Tinnaro says it’s important to know that The Hive’s not just a safe place for people they agree with. They have members who are incredibly passionate about both ends of the spectrum. But the thing they demand is respect for everybody.

“If you want to come in here wearing your DeSantis hat, you’re allowed to do that,” Tinnaro says. “You do have to know there’s going to be some conversation about it. Someone will challenge you on it, but they’re allowed to do that. And if you want to challenge them on your beliefs as well, you can – as long as the conversation stays respectful and you are both compassionate with each other.

“That is what I think is the linchpin with us here at The Hive. It’s being compassionate with everyone who walks through the door.”

Knowledge is the fruit of the tree of life, Tinnaro says. This is what inspired the show’s name. She’s not a Bible person but believes it’s good to be familiar with it so you can respond with words of compassion from the book instead of hate. Especially when the Bible is being thrown at you.

“There really is a lot of comfort and kindness in the Bible that is invisible to most people nowadays,” she says. “We do have one member who is a lovely, dedicated Christian person and I am always really heartened when they decide to pipe up with their Christianity. It reminds me that there is kindness there.”

Hot Dog by Trinity Oribio

Visual artists featured in the show include August Adams, Bao Minh, Dakota Parkinson, Daryn Bauer, Jeb Katsiopsis, John Murdock, Kathleen Rumpf, Lauren Harris, Mad Weber, Nela Lamb, T. Taylor, Trinity Oribio and Vanessa Cunto.

You can find a schedule of upcoming pottery classes and workshops for teens and adults at thehivestpete.com/classes.



photo by Skyla Luckey

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